Tips and tricks I used to read more books.
With the New Year upon us, resolutions are everywhere. In December of 2019 I set a resolution for myself to read 12 books in 2020. While not everyone believes in the power of resolutions, I managed to hit my goal and then some. Check out these tips I used to go from reading an average of 10 books a year to reading over 40 in 2020.
1. Be Open to Multiple Reading Formats
I used to be a physical book or die kind of person. I was adamantly against e-reading because I liked the idea of having the physical copy. This held me back from reading as much as I wanted because every time I was interested in a book, I would go to the store and buy one. Not only was this no longer an option in the midst of a pandemic, laziness often would win and I would resort to watching Netflix or watching YouTube videos (both viable forms of entertainment, just not in line with my reading goals). Once everything shut down and I was no longer able to access book stores, I bit the bullet and purchased and e-reader. I instantly was reading more simply because I could access any book I wanted with a couple of taps.
Before I started on this journey to read more, I had this idea that reading through audiobooks didn’t count as reading. I got into audiobooks because I was travelling to visit my out of town boyfriend and had 4 hours of uninterrupted car time per week. Downloading audiobooks helped me fill otherwise dead time with reading.
2. Utilize the Library
Seriously, the library changed the game for me. It seems almost too good to be true. Free entertainment? Not only free entertainment but I can also access it all from my phone without leaving my house? Incredible. Getting a library card and downloading Libby to access my library’s e-content helped me get more books than I could ever want. During the midst of a pandemic, the last thing I wanted to do was go to a bookstore to purchase a physical copy of something I might not even like. By using Libby and my e-reader, I could browse from the safety of my couch and instantly access books I was interested in. If I haven’t sold you on the ease of an e-reader, most libraries also offer curbside pickup. You can select the books that you want and pick them up at your leisure. The library is seriously so amazing.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ditch a Book
This one kind of goes hand in hand with the library usage because once I started using the library, I felt no guilt in returning books without having read them. I used to purchase books, start reading them, hate them, and then force myself to keep reading, all because I had spent money on them. In 2020, I dropped so many books in order to make time for books that I actually would enjoy. Whenever I am reading a book I don’t like, it takes me much longer to read. I will procrastinate reading because this unlikeable book is hanging over my head. By returning them to the library or putting them down when I was no longer interested, I avoided some reading slumps and I was able to focus my time on books I actually wanted to read. It’s ok to stop reading a book if you don’t like it, I promise!
4. Buy Cheap
While Barnes and Noble has a wide variety of books, they also sometimes have a hefty price tag. I have found that when I do want to bite the bullet and purchase a book, that looking for alternative solutions has saved me some cold hard cash. Goodwill and Savers are great places to find buzzy books. I was browsing through Goodwill once and found a brand new copy of Normal People by Sally Rooney for under $2, just weeks after the mega-hyped Hulu series had been released. Used book stores are also a great way to save some cash upfront. There are also a few online retailers that I have used to replace Amazon when buying books in order to either save money or help support my local bookstores.
Here are some great online retailers to purchase books:
Bookshop.org – This website carries e-books, audiobooks, and physical books and a portion of your purchase goes to local bookstore of your choosing.
Thriftbooks.com – This website houses primarily physical books for a fraction of the retail price.
Book of the Month – This is a subscription service that offers a selection of new release hardcovers for $10 a month.
5. Seek Out Recommendations
“I don’t know what to read next so I just won’t read anything!” This used to be my mindset but of course I wouldn’t know what to read next because I was relying on seeing books at the store that would catch my eye. I have branched out to listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos, and using recommendation websites to ensure that I always have a variety of recommendations that I wouldn’t necessarily get from friends and family. Below are some of my favorites.
Noelle Gallagher – She loves a good romance as well as some Stephen King.
FicionalFates – If you’re a fantasy reader, look no further.
Booksandlala – She’s got great thriller recommendations as well as some aesthetically pleasing thumbnails.
Reading Glasses Podcast – This was a great resource for me when I was trying to rebuild the habit of reading consistently. They also provide recommendations during every show.
Professional Book Nerds – They speak to authors and discuss upcoming releases.
Goodreads – I mean I speak about Goodreads in every post it seems, but they have a ton of curated lists for any type of reader as well as some great blurbs about each book.
Whatshouldireadnext.com – You can input your favorite book and the website will generate recommendations based on it.
6. Track Your Reading
Whether you use a journal, an Excel sheet, or an app, tracking your reading is a great way to keep yourself accountable. I love being able to just scroll through my list and see everything that I have read throughout the year. Tracking your reading is also a valuable way to keep your reviews in one place. Sometimes when people will ask me about a book, I will need to reference my review to jog my memory. I am partial to the Goodreads platform for tracking my reading because I can also save books that I am interested in reading next.
7. Join a Book Club
Joining a book club was one of the best things I could’ve done to help improve my reading habits. It was so valuable because it helped me branch out into new genres that I otherwise would not have read. Having a monthly meeting also kept me accountable because I needed to be able to talk about the book without sounding like I had only read the Wikipedia summary (which I have been known to do to see if I will like a book). An unexpected benefit to book club was that it forced me to read more critically as well.
Book club was a great source of connection during the pandemic. Once things are no longer shut down, I would recommend looking for a book club at your local library or book store.
In the meantime, check out this article from BookRiot to find an online book club.
8. Talk About Books
This tip goes hand in hand with joining a book club. As someone who is not gifted in the art of small talk, talking to people about the latest book that I read helped me build connections with friends and family. I posted my top 5 favorite reads from 2020 on my Instagram story this year and was pleasantly surprised with the comments and recommendations that I got from it. I have been able to bond with family out of state and talk to old friends that I otherwise would not have. I read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (just like everyone else in the universe it seems) and it was such an easy thing to discuss with people. People that hadn’t read it yet had heard of it and I was able to make a recommendation. I may read for escapism, but talking about what I’ve read has kept me more connected than ever before.
9. Set Aside Time to Read
This is something that I really needed to focus on when I was first getting back into the habit of reading consistently. Whether it’s before bed, on your lunch break at work, or listening to an audiobook on your commute, scheduling time in your day to get some reading done is crucial. When I first scheduled in reading time, I would tell myself “Ok, just 10 minutes and then if I want to stop I will stop.” More often than not, I would get sucked into whatever I was reading and I would end up reading for much longer than my allotted 10 minutes. My favorite time to read is either before bed, or whenever my boyfriend controls the remote to the TV (one can only watch Futurama so many times). Once I had established the habit, I didn’t need to schedule in time as it was automatically part of my day.
10. Read Books That You Like
Ok, ok, this one seems obvious right? Wrong! I was so hung up on all of the books that I should read, that I lost sight of what books I actually liked. Whey else would I attempt to read Pride and Prejudice 5 times (aside from the fact that the 2005 film with Kiera Knightley is a gem) and never finish it? There’s sometimes this stigma that comes with reading where it feels like if you’re not reading the classics or you’re not reading serious books, that your reading is somehow inferior. This ain’t it! While I do think that it is valuable to branch out and read books that are outside your comfort zone, sometimes reading a palette cleanser in between is a great way to avoid a reading slump. Did I read In Cold Blood and then immediately pivot to a fluffy romance afterward in order to continue having a good time? Of course!
So while it may seem obvious, read books that you like! Happy reading and here’s to 2021.