When I was a kid, my reasons for reading were pretty simple — it gave me an excuse to shut my door, keep my brothers from bothering me for a little while, and it was a brief journey into a world unlike my own. I can’t say my reasons for reading are much different now. It’s nice to shut the metaphorical door on the rest of the world, turn everything else off, and escape for a bit.
I know for many adults reading is an activity that falls by the wayside as you attempt to fulfill all the obligations in your life and it can seem like a habit that is completely out of reach of picking up again. So many people tell me that they haven’t ready much since high school and complain that they wish it was different, but feel it’s impossible. I’ve been there, too.
There was a time when I didn’t read as much. During my busiest years of college and right after, when I was entering the workforce, my brain was so burnt out on reading 12 assigned novels a semester (you read that right) that I had almost come to resent the activity. It took a little while to get over that and as I slowly dipped my toes back in the water, looking for what I liked after years of being told what I had to read and having almost no time for leisure reads, I returned to my first love and found that it was just as rewarding as it had always been for me.
I’ve gone through different stages in my reading life. When I was ghostwriting full-time it was difficult to find the time and energy to focus my attention on words visually after staring at my laptop for hours on end, trying to churn out another chapter. I had always thought of audiobooks as cheating, but at this point in my life I knew that unless I tried something else I would never be able to read the books I wanted and continue working. Also it dawned on me that disregarding audiobooks as a lesser, non-book option was pretty judgemental and borderline ableist, so I quickly set that opinion aside.
The question I get most often is HOW ON EARTH DO YOU READ SO MUCH? Ahem, well, if you think I read a lot, let me point you in the direction of several of my Goodreads pals who reach a goal of 300+ books per year. But how do I read so much? It’s funny because I feel like this question is often tinged with a bit of, “Oh, well, you’ve got the time so clearly that’s how you manage to read so much.” My life is busy. I have, SURPRISE!, a few things that I would rather do than read at times (although, mostly…yeah, I just love to read). Everyone’s time is valuable. You have to commit to read. Find the time in your schedule, even if it’s 15 minutes. Don’t give me any of this, “I’m tooooo busy” nonsense. Take it and tie it to your kite and get yourself gone.
Honestly, I am probably not qualified to write this post, but I wanted to tell you all what works for me and how with just a little effort you can make 2018 a year for the books. *ba dum tss*
Reading is so important, especially today. With so much information floating around out there and constant “othering”, I think there’s nothing more important that widening your scope and walking in someone else’s shoes for a moment — whether fiction or non. Getting out of your own experience and stepping into someone else’s is necessary in today’s climate.
So, you want to read more this year? Here are a few things that have helped me.
Library Extension has been the very best thing I’ve found anywhere in the past few years. For a while I had about a $5.99 a day Kindle habit and this Chrome extension quickly curbed that, saving me money AND helping me read more. The extension shows up whenever you visit online book vendors like Amazon, as well as when you’re checking out titles on Goodreads. You link the extension to your local library, it tells you if the title is available, and you can can check out the book from right there! It’s a marvel.
Libby, the much friendlier version of the Overdrive app. She’s new and much easier to navigate. You’ll need to link your library card and from there it’s a breeze to discover ebooks and audiobooks available from your library.
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy gave me so much joy. There’s something about reading a writer’s words about the writers he loves. His heart for story and good writing is there on every page and you’ll want to make a list of every book he mentions.
On Writing by Stephen King is usually a book that gets mentioned when you talk about writing (and I’d definitely throw it into a list on the best books for that as well), but it’s also an excellent book if you want to kindle a love for reading again. Much like Conroy, King speaks about writers and books he has loved over the years, while creating a narrative about his life as a writer. It’s a page turner and even if you’ve never read his work I think it’s something you’ll find compelling.
Decide what works for you
The important thing is knowing what works for you. What makes you want to pick up a book? When is the time of day when you could conceivably sit down and make it happen? Also consider what you know DOESN’T work. Several people talk to me about reading before bed and how it’s guaranteed to put them to sleep. While some people love this about reading, if you are wanting to really get into the book and stay awake for it, this probably isn’t for you.
Maybe reading in the traditional sense isn’t something that’s going to happen for you. I’m such a proponent for audiobooks now. I listen to them while I’m cleaning house or driving around town taking care of some errands. A few minutes here and there and before you know it, I’ve finished a book.
For me, making a plan has been very helpful. This year I’m committing to listening to at least one audiobook every two weeks, in addition to whatever other reading I’m doing. I’m guaranteed to meet at least half my goal that way and sense I read faster than I get through any audiobook, I’ll be certain to get to my 50 book goal before year’s end.