Before graduating college, I was not a big reader. Sometimes I tried reading, but I always used the excuse that I was too busy, and never really put the time into making it a hobby. After college, however, I decided to pick up a book…or 20, and it has totally changed my life. If you think about it, you can buy a book for $10 and read about some brilliant person’s life research. That is still baffling to me. For $10, I can know the best of what exists in the world. Wow. I know that most people are busy and reading can seem impossible with a full time job, but here are 11 ways to help you read more, despite your busy schedules – trust me, they helped me!
1. List out all the other optional things you do during the day (such as spending hours on the internet, watching TV, or doing a hobby you’re not that into) and decide if you’d actually prefer to read instead do one of these things. Sometimes, we say we don’t have time for reading because we’re so used to the routines we’ve created, even if we don’t like those routines. Evaluate your routine and see if there’s space for something better – like a book.
2. Set reading goals. Remember when you used to get gold stickers next to your name when you met your reading goals in elementary school? Well, our third grade teachers were definitely onto something. When we see our progress and commitment, the goal will practically finish itself. Start a book club with a friend, make a blog with reviews about your books, plan to read a book every two weeks – do whatever you can to hold yourself accountable to this goal. You can also download my printable “Goal Organizer” to help you plan out how many pages you’ll read a day.
3. You don’t have to read a text book, ya know. Since we did so much academic reading in school, our brain often equates the task to some sort of primitive torture device, but reading can be really fun if you pick the right books. Even if you spend all your time reading manga instead of something “serious,” you’re still giving yourself the chance to view into someone else’s mind, thoughts, and life experience. It doesn’t always matter what you read, just as long as you do.
4. Join Good Reads. I have this theory that humans are herding animals, like cows or sheep. We like to follow the pack. Good Reads is great because you can create a profile and digital library that showcases all the books you’ve read. You can also write and read reviews, view your friends’ profiles, browse lists and quotes, and more. It’s helpful motivation to see how much other people are reading and to follow the pack – in a good way.
5. Use audio books. Want to know how to make traffic, long lines at Disneyland, and pretty much anything suck less? By listening to audio books. You’re basically reading, except you’re not. They can be great because you’ll still have the chance to grasp some new perspectives and insights, but you can be doing the other mind-numbing things you have to do each day, like sit at red lights.
6. Buy an electronic reader. I know some people are morally disgusted by these things, but I still think they’re great. They may not have the smell or feel of an old book in your hands, but they do have instant access to millions of other books, are extremely light and portable, and in my opinion, are easier to read through. Here’s why – on the bottom of my kindle, instead of counting page numbers, it has a little progress bar with percentages, letting me know what percentage of the book I’ve read, at all times. Instead of reading 50 pages of The Fountainhead and seeing that I still have 650 long pages to go, my Kindle nicely tells me that I’m already 15% finished. “Wow!” I think, “I’m such a boss at reading!” Actually, I’m still reading the same amount, but the way it’s displayed is way more motivating for me. After I bought my Kindle, I read about 15 books in a row because the task seemed so easy and enjoyable. You can also underline things and they are all organized in the Kindle’s notepad for you to look back on later. For their portability, motivation, and easily accessible library, I think electronic readers are a great option.
7. Cut back or quit watching TV. I saw this quote online recently and I think it sums up how I feel: “Now, I’m not an anti-television person—far from it, in fact. But comparing reading books and watching TV is like comparing sitting still and jogging. One of the two is obviously so much better for you.”
8. Read while working out. That sounds pretty sweet, doesn’t it? Working out your body and your mind at the same time…I imagine you might become some sort of super human – hey maybe you can write about it. Sometimes controlling a book on the treadmill is difficult, so this is a great opportunity to use an e-reader or your phone to read the books you love.
9. Check out the article, “How to Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks.” It’s packed with great information and was one of the inspirations for me to write this post for you – read it!
10. Highlight! Highlighting books is not just for high school students – it’s for anyone. I love highlighting my books because a year later when I’ve forgotten some of the important details, I can go back and not only re-remember the story, but also find some quotes that are truly mind-altering. Cover your walls with these quotes. They’re not meant to sit in books. If you read something that inspires you, grab a piece of paper and write it in your funkiest handwriting – and then tape it on your door, ceiling, or anywhere that you can see it clearly. Do this every single time. Soon your room will be a more inspiring reading nest than even a library.
11. Speaking of libraries, get a library card. Books can be expensive, but libraries are still free, my friends! Many libraries also offer e-books that you can borrow in light of the e-reading digital age. No excuses here – libraries are your pals.