I find myself motivated by a challenge. I am a competitive person so challenges (even if I’m the only one participating) move me to actual tackle the things that I’ve been interested in doing. Whether the challenge is to not buy new clothing for a month or reading every month, I like chasing the feeling of completing that last step to finish a challenge. All that being said, last year I started using Goodreads seriously and challenged myself to read 12 books in 2019. And I did, which only encouraged me to read more in 2020. Seeing how comfortably I finished 12 books, I decided to push myself in the new year and try to read twice as many books.
But I understand reading isn’t for everyone. Or maybe you’re like me and every time you finish a book, you find yourself adding three more to the pile of books you want to read. Either way, I’ve written down the tips and tricks that have encouraged me to read more this year and hopefully long term.
First up: read what you wanna read. Now, this may sound obvious, but in case you haven’t heard, you should enjoy what you’re reading. If you’re like my dad and you find large tomes on the life of dead American generals interesting, read that. If you wanna read YA books, but you’re scared you’re too old – do it! If you finally want to admit that reading Great Expectations wasn’t fun in high school for a reason – ditch it! Unless you’re reading for school, what you pick up in your free time should be enjoyable.
And there’s no shame in what you’re reading. It’s okay to not read classics all the time. Sometimes you want to pick up a graphic novel or a childhood favorite. And you should! Those are fun too. (And yes, I’m saying this as much for myself as for anyone else.)
If you’re a busy person and sitting down to read isn’t always the best for your schedule, audiobooks have really improved in the last few years. No longer do you have to pull out the twelve disk set – now, you can listen on your phone. Apps like Libro.fm make listening to audiobooks easy, and if you don’t want to spend money, I know my library system has started to provide audiobooks through their Overdrive site. I’ve started listening to books while I play games on my phone or while I’m scrolling Pinterest and it allows me to fit in books that I might otherwise not get the chance to read. Listening to an murder mystery book while you’re taking a late night stroll isn’t recommended…
Maybe audiobooks aren’t for you, but you don’t really have space in your purse for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’ve found that renting E-Books from my library gives me access to books on my phone (or Kindle if I ever remember to charge it) and I can read on my lunch break. E-books are just generally more convenient – reading a chapter on the train or while waiting for your doctor’s appointment is a lot more productive than scrolling Instagram or trying to beat that level of Candy Crush or 1010!.
Speaking of doctor’s appointments, I’ve found myself enjoying books of essays recently because they allow me to read a short burst and not have to worry about forgetting the characters or getting confused by the plot. (My most recent reads were Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom and Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay.) Alternatives with the same benefits are books of poetry or short story collections. Lots of little stories are just as valid as one long story.
I’ve learned that I enjoy books best when I sit down and just devour them, dedicating an afternoon to reading and nothing else. I understand that not everyone has that ability, but the next time you sit down to binge watch The Office or Friends (again… [I will fight anyone who says these shows were worth watching to begin with]), maybe reading that book you bought back in the day might be just as entertaining. I get it, television binges are easier, but sometimes turning off Netflix for the day can come with some benefits. I’ll let you know the next time I follow my own advice on that one.