I wish I read more.
I think this a few times a week as I try to balance all the aspects of my life. I love reading and probably fall above average for my reading time, but still… I wish I read more.
Turns out, I’m not not alone. According to this article, Reading More is one of the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions made by well-wishers. Whether we want to read more for professional or personal reasons, somehow we seem to be falling short of our desire.
How do we fix that?
Well, I have seven tips to increase your reading consumption without overwhelming your schedule.
Despite what movies and tv show you, for most people, reading is not about “getting lost” in a book. As an avid reader myself, I can’t sit for longer than 45 minutes to an hour before feeling like I need to go do something else. I have a friend who maxes out at 20 minutes – and that’s okay. We have this perception of reading that you have to have a good chunk of time with a blanket and your favorite hot beverage. And then magically you’ll slip into Wonderland, forgetting about all space and time. Wrong. It’s not like that for most people. Don’t get me wrong – a great book can be engrossing. But just like watching tv, listening to podcasts, or playing a quick game on your phone, reading can be done in bite-sized pieces and greet you wherever you are in your day. So instead of thinking of reading as “the event”, consider cracking a book between daily events.
Go Book Surfing
I recently read an article about a man whole reads 100 books a year (1-0-0 books per year!) His trick to reading more is to have multiple books going at one time. Sound annoying? It did to me too until he put it all into perspective for me. He recommended treating reading like Netflix or Hulu. Read what you’re in the mood for. Sometimes you want lighthearted. Sometimes you want drama. Sometimes you want insight. And those “sometimes” can happen any time of the day. Allow yourself to follow your desires and not force yourself into a specific mood. Reduce the expectation of linear reading and go book surfing.
Read Before You Scroll
If you pick up your phone multiple times a day to do mindless scrolling, get into the habit of opening a reading app (or cracking a book) for 5 minutes first. Commuting? Start with your book first. At the dentist office? Start with your book. Waiting to pick up kids? Start with a book. And make the commitment small and manageable – like reading for 5 minutes or 5 pages.
If you’re adamant that you want to set aside a chunk of time everyday to read, then schedule it in! When I worked in a traditional office environment, I read for 30 minutes over my lunch, which had the triple effect of ensuring I had lunch, getting me away from my desk, and taking a few moments to read. Now, that 30 minutes happens during lunch and/or right as I get into bed.
Read What the Kids are Reading
This tip is for everyone – even if you don’t have kids.
First, if you do have kids, match their school reading list. Not only will you get in a few easy-to-read books, but you will have more meaningful conversations about their schoolwork. If you have a bookworm, read their leisure books too! You’ll gain insight into their interests and can facilitate deeper dialogue around key topics – and be you will be super up to date on pop culture!
Whether you do or don’t have kids, this is an excellent way to read books you may have missed in school or revisit ones you loved (or hated!) A few years ago, I read To Kill a Mockingbird, The Giver, and A Wrinkle In Time, because they never made their way into my curriculum or I simply didn’t remember anything about the books. Plus, they were incredibly fast reads so I got the quick gratification of marking them off my Goodreads list!
Digital and audio books are two ways to ensure you always have a book with you and delivers the book in a way that you prefer. Also, using tracking apps like Goodreads allows you to create annual goals, share reviews, see what your friends are reading, and create reading lists, making reading part of your digital and social environment.
Read What You’re Drawn To
Finally and most importantly, you’re never going to read what you hate. Find a book genre you enjoy. Follow an online book club for recommendations. Read whatever you want. No one said you have to read the latest self-improvement book or biography if you just aren’t into it. There are billions of books out there. Read what you want.
Slowly but surely, you’ll start to read more as you build habits that make time for reading. Remember, the art of creating a habit means keeping it simple. Start with one of these tips at a time and see where it takes you.
Also, if you’d like to see what I’m reading, follow me on Instagram at @jenlawrenceco. I’m frequently bouncing between genres and sharing my thoughts on different books.