As readers, we all have stacks of books we’d like to read. Personally, I have shelves, stacks, lists, random notes, AND a Pinterest board of books I’d like to read.
So, how do we read them all?
To be honest, I don’t think we can. My to-be-read lists keep growing as I discover new authors, new ideas, and as I walk around the library, bookstore, even the airport.
But–we can read a lot of that to-be-read list. By using some simple techniques (not speed-reading), we can read more books each month or year.
So, without further fanfare and introduction, here are my 11 ways to read more books:
1. Carry a book with you
Makes sense doesn’t it? By having a book with you, in your purse, bag, or backpack, you’ll read more simply because you’ll have more opportunity. Line ups in the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, at the bus stop–these are all perfect times to read a chapter or two.
When Black Friday shopping with a friend a few years ago I bought a clutch purse. My friend picked it out for me–I loved it because a) it was one of my favourite colours, and b) “I can fit a book in this!” was my initial reaction to seeing it. My friends know, Trisha will always have a book with her.
2. Get an ereader
Some people may be opposed to electronic reading, but it’s a great way to read more books (and get free ones!). I wrote about the arguments for ereaders last year. Ereaders are small. They’re light (which is a HUGE plus when you’re standing on the commuter train for what feels like forever). They fit well into purses and bags (see point above). They also can have multiple books loaded on them at once, meaning as soon as you finish Hunger Games Book 1, you can move on to the second book in the series.
3. Smart phone apps
There are a number of smart phone apps for books: Kobo has a smart phone app, Kindle has one, iPhones come equipped with iBooks. And then there are subscription services like Oyster that allow you to read as many books as you want for one low fee. When carrying a physical book or a standard ereader with you isn’t feasible, pull out your phone and read some Dickens or Rowling instead of scrolling through Facebook or Twitter.
4. Audio books
If you walk to work, have a long car commute, or run for fun, audio books could be your saviour. That time is prime time for absorbing books. I also like listening to audio books while I cook or clean. I recently discovered them, and fell in love.
5. Bedside reading
It’s a little cliché, but it’s true. De-stressing before bed is an important part of a good night’s sleep. Reading has been proven to be a de-stressor. Head to bed 15 minutes earlier and read a chapter or two of a book that interests you, fiction or non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure it’s not too intense – you wouldn’t want to be unable to put it down (reading until 4 a.m. was great when you didn’t have to be on the road at 7:30 to get to work on time)!
6. Read books you WANT to read/topics that interest you
People often tell me that they don’t like reading. They didn’t enjoy it in school, so they stopped reading as soon as they got their diploma. The problem there wasn’t that they didn’t enjoy reading, it’s that they didn’t enjoy the books they were forced to read. Studies have shown that children who get to choose the books they read, read more. Even if they aren’t strong readers.
Find books that you enjoy. If you aren’t enjoying a book, a genre, or a topic, put it down and try something else. Not all books are for everyone. Find what you enjoy, and you’ll inevitably read more.
7. Share books with friends
If you have friends who are readers, share books with them. Often, friends will enjoy similar types of books.
Why not swap favourite reads with your roommate or bestie? You’ll be motivated to read it for two reasons, 1) your friend leant it to you and you need to get it back to them in a timely fashion, and 2) you’ll be able to chat about it when you’re done.
Talking about books with other readers is an often overlooked aspect of reading–it can be so much fun to analyze, lament, or laugh over a book with someone else who’s also read it.
8. Bookclub – sometimes all you need is accountability
Like I said in the point above, talking about a book, a story, or a character with others can be a lot of fun. The book clubs I’ve been a part of have always enlightened me to interesting new points of view, or understandings about the books we’ve read together.
Another fabulous aspect of being part of a book club is the accountability. If the group agrees to read chapters one through three and discuss them in three weeks, then you’ll get that reading done by that deadline. Why? Because no one likes to be left out of a conversation with friends and no one likes letting their friends down.
9. Library – read what it recommends
Sometimes the problem with reading a lot is that you just don’t know what to read. Even with a long to-be-read list, I sometimes feel bereft, none of those books appeal to me at that moment. If this happens to you, check out recommendations at your local library. The librarians will be knowledgeable about the current book trends and about different genres. They’ll be able to help you find something to your taste and perhaps introduce you to a new series to devour.
10. Magazines – mags you like will often recommend books along the same topic
Magazines–whether they are topical, fashion, sports, or literary–often have sections about books. Suggestions, reviews, or author profiles, the books featured in magazines are chosen specifically because they resonate with the magazine’s target audience.
11. Set an evening each week aside for reading rather than television
I started this list with carrying a book with you to use those little bits of lost time to read. I’ll finish it with setting aside scheduled reading time. We all have our weekly T.V. shows. Monday night is Castle, Thursday night is Big Bang Theory, and so on. Why not set aside one night a week for the whole family to read together? You don’t have to all read the same thing, but a group of people sitting together in a comfy room, all reading their favourite kind of book is a cozy picture and a great way to read more books (and grow a family of readers).