How to Read More This Year

Katie Breen
Friday, January 25, 2019
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Following my post listing all of the books I read in 2018, I was surprised to get a *ton* of messages from people asking for advice on how to make time for reading. And these questions got me to thinking! I know for sure that I don't have ~loads~ more free time than your average person (cough, cough, grad school - and before that I was working full-time like err'body else). I usually sleep 9-10 hours per night. And I waste plenty of time on Instagram like the rest of us. I'm not special. But I think what it comes down to is prioritization, and a little bit o’ strategy.

 So, in response to all of your messages, and at the high risk of sounding pretentious, here are my recommendations on how to make more time for reading this year - or at least what works for me. I'd love to hear about your way of doin’ thangs!

When?

I make time for reading at the following times (and no, not every single day or every single time):

·     I read before bed. My Kindle is always either on my nightstand or in my day bag, so that I can…

·     Read throughout the day when I otherwise would be bored scrolling through Instagram or compulsively checking email

·     I read on planes (you always have to power down large electronic devices for takeoff anyway, so if you just read instead then you don’t need to change a thing!)

·     I read instead of watching TV or movies. (Basically, my main theory is that I read more than other people because I spend less time doing the alternatives that we usually fill in for reading - tv, movies, social media, etc.)

·     I read on the bus or subway from my Kindle or the Kindle app for iPhone (more on that later).  Sometimes the bus makes me nauseous or space is just too crowded, but I do it when I'm in the mood. Same goes for long car rides.

·     I read in waiting rooms, in long lines, while getting pedicures, while getting my hair done (LOL these last two items...they happen infrequently, but when they do, I am prepared), when I'm waiting for the doctor/dentist to come in the exam room, while getting my car serviced...basically any time I have to wait for more than a few minutes.

·     I read when I’m bored or when I want to turn off my mind. I often have a hard time finding a show I can get into, or even picking out one show/movie when there are a million options before me on Netflix. So it's just easier to get in bed with a book, and I am usually more entertained and engaged by a book than I would be by one of the alternatives.

·     I read when I’m out at restaurants by myself, partially because I have no shame. I will go to a restaurant and ask for a table for one or a seat at the bar (yeah, even during busy periods), and I will sit and eat by myself while reading. I similarly read while having my coffee in coffee shops.

·     Driving/walking down the street/cleaning/doing dishes/walking your dog/doing laundry/staring into space/at the gym: this is where audiobooks come in. I’m not a big audiobook person (I think I only listened to ~2 last year), mainly because I always find the readers' voices too flat and my mind ends up drifting elsewhere (podcasts are my jam though...obvi). But if you like audiobooks, you can listen to books at almost any time. And you can get almost any book worth reading on Audible these days (more on that later too).

·    I’m not gonna advocate for or against it, but I’m pretty sure toilet reading is like a total thing. I’ve not *never* done it. I’m a bit too germaphobic to store magazines or books near the toilet (and honestly it kinda freaks me out when I see them in other people’s houses…like how LONG are you sitting there for and are you eating enough fiber!?) but if it’s your thing…an easy, achievable resolution could just be that you read every time you take a poo. Just wash your hands, please.

 

How?

1. THE PUBLIC LIBRARY!

I’m not made of money, and I couldn’t possibly read as much if I had to shell out ~$12-18 every time I wanted to read a book. You probably already know how to use your local public library for physical books, but what you might not know is that most public libraries these days let you rent e-books and audiobooks too! You never even have to leave the house!

Go to the website or branch of your local library and figure out how to get in on this wonderful, publicly funded action! On my library’s site, you can browse titles, make wishlists, place holds, and more. When the book is checked out, I just click a button and it’s delivered to the device of my choice. Voila! I love it.

If for whatever reason your library doesn’t have the book you want, or the waitlist for a book is too long, you could always of course just buy the book. If you’re not sold yet on e-books but you are still cost-conscious, it’s worth noting that e-books are always significantly cheaper than hard-copy versions of books.

2. DO. NOT. READ. BOOKS. THAT. BORE. YOU.

If you get ~30 pages into a book and you're bored, just put it down and move on to a different book. For those out there who are Type A like me, you will struggle with this at first. I used to *have* to finish every book I started (I also used to only read non-fiction because I thought I had to be "productive" at all times, but that's a blog post for a different day).

But then two things happened: a) someone told me "there are too many good books in the world to waste time reading one that's bad," and b) I realized that I was not reading as much as I wanted because I was forcing myself to finish books that bored me. Let's focus on that one a little more...

If you are reading a book that bores you, reading it just for the sake of finishing it will feel like a chore. You will find excuses to do things other than read, because even though you want to read more books this year, the particular sucky book you're trying to finish is not good. It will sit on your nightstand, and you will sit on your butt in front of the TV.

How do you know *when* to move on from a book? I know, I know...sometimes books start out boring and then get better! You just *HAVE* to find out if this is one of those books!

First of all, always read the reviews. Someone might have figured out this issue before you. Second, and most important of all, NOTICE IF YOU ARE FINDING EXCUSES TO AVOID READING THE BOOK. If you would rather match the socks from your clean laundry than read that book, move on.

On what?

I know Amazon is like the capitalist devil these days, but nobody else delivers books like they can. I mean, they *exist* because of book sales, so they better be good at it, right?

1.    Kindle

I personally love my Kindle. I got the Kindle Oasis for Christmas, which is the schmanciest one they make. You definitely can downgrade and be totally happy though. I’m not up-to-date on all of their new models, but historically the cheapest, most basic one is like $70. I do recommend getting one of the models that is backlit, which means you don’t need a reading light. They are great for dark planes, cars, or when your bedmate is asleep. I also prefer the Kindle models that give you the option of clicking actual buttons to turn the pages because I find the touchscreens for page-turning a little annoying, but that’s just a personal preference. You can get any of the refurbished/pre-owned Kindles, including perfectly pleasant past models, for relatively cheap ($100 and far less, depending on the model).

If you’re a real splish-splasher, the Oasis is also waterproof, but for me that’s a mostly unnecessary feature given that I mainly read in bed. But it’s good to know for the two times per year I decide to take a bath. Probably also a good feature if you have kids, because they are destructive little monsters. The Oasis also has a nice, ergonomic design and the text on the screen flips when you flip the device over, which is amazing because I usually use my right hand for turning pages, but sometimes I do roll over in bed and then I need my left hand. ;)

I swear this isn’t an ad for Kindle (unless you guys at Amazon are reading this…I will accept compensation) but another bonus is that you can read PDFs for work, school, etc. on Kindle. I find this a better format for when I’m on the bus or just need to get away from my computer. You can easily send PDFs to Kindle through a few different ways, including a desktop app that is literally called “Send to Kindle” where you can drag and drop documents.  

All in all, the Kindle makes reading better for me because it’s a device solely devoted to reading. I can’t get distracted by texts or that email I need to send (it also doesn’t emit blue light and thus disrupt your Circadian rhythms). So I actually read.  But with that being said…

2.    Kindle for iPhone/iPad and Kindle Cloud Reader

You don’t need a fancy device to read a darn book, which I know you know because you’re reading this on some sort of screen right now. The Kindle app is totally free, which means you can read from your phone or iPad wherever you are without needing to buy a second device solely for reading. You can also use the Kindle Cloud Reader to read in a web browser at any time. One of the things I love about Kindle is that it syncs your reading spot across devices. So if I read til page 10 on the Kindle app while I’m on the bus, when I open my physical Kindle at home, it will sync to page 10 (as long as both devices were connected to the web or a cell connection).

3.    Audiobooks on Audible

Tbh, I don’t even know how I’d listen to audiobooks if they *weren’t* on Audible. Nearly every book worth reading on Amazon offers an Audible version. The Audible phone app for playing books is totally free. You can buy the books one-off, or if you read a lot of audiobooks, you can become a member of Audible. Don’t quote me on the specifics because we can both Google it, but Audible membership is like $14 a month. For that, you get at least 1 book credit per month, towards almost any book. Those credits roll over from month to month. With the membership you also get discounts on additional audiobooks you buy through Audible. Audible has great sales all the time where you can get books for like $3, and they also have started podcast-style “Audible Original Series” productions, which are totally free to listen to.

 

Is this post too long? Probably. But you said you wanted to read more this year, so if you can't get through a blog post...God help ya.

What are your own strategies for reading more?! I wanna hear 'em all!