I admit it: I am a book nerd. Reading has been my favorite hobby all my life, since I can remember. My mom has a wall of bookshelves in her living room, and I’m pretty sure I read every book on them, some of them multiple times. (Now I have my own living room wall of books and it makes me happy. See below.) In middle school, I loved it when we got a new book assignment (My Antonia! Fahrenheit 451! Mere Christianity!) but forget reading just chapters 1-3. I almost always finished it that week and asked for a new one, a fact I think my teacher both loved (a blossoming reader!) and hated (I’ve got to find more books for her!).
Reading is fun when you read books you love.
Reading is like breathing to me. It’s how I relax, how I escape, how I learn, how I grow. And while my reading life has changed since those middle school days, my reading has not stopped.
I have been tracking my Books Read for three or four years now, and at the end of the year, I love counting up how many I finished (both fiction and non-fiction). And I’m always surprised at the number. I have five kids and I homeschool them, we are very involved at our church, and I’m writing a good bit. Add to that the regular stuff of life: keeping the house, running errands, cooking dinner, and my plate is pretty full. But not too full to read!
So how do I make time to read 60-70 books a year? Here’s how:
Eight Ways to Read More Books
1. I always have a book with me. Whether it’s on my kindle or a hard copy, there is almost never a time when there’s not a book in my purse. And when I find a few minutes of time, in carline, at the post office, at the park, I pull it out and start reading. And I bring my book down from my bedroom in the morning and put it in the kitchen, and bring it back up to bed with me at night. Even if I don’t get to read it, it’s still nearby, waiting for me to have a spare moment. Which leads me to my second point:
2. I don’t wait for long chunks of time in which to read. I don’t know when the last time was that I had solid hours with nothing to do but curl up with a good book. Maybe on our anniversary trip. As much as I love the idea of a blanket, book, and cup of tea on a rainy day, realistically, it’s school work, dinner prep, and phone calls. But there are cracks throughout the day when I can either pick up my phone and scroll, or pick up a book and read (you’ve gotta have a book with you for this to work. See point #1.), and while I don’t always choose the book, I often do. It’s so much more satisfying.
3. I read before bed at night. We all need ways to wind down, and reading is mine. More often then not, I read for fifteen minutes (or more!) at night. It’s better for my sleep than looking at a screen, and it’s fun.
4. I try to always know which book I’m going to read next. There’s nothing worse than finishing a great book and having no idea what’s next. When this happens, I usually end up having a lag of a few days where I’m not reading anything, and that’s no good.
5. I have a few books going at once–at least one fiction and one non-fiction. That way, I have something that fits if I don’t feel up to thinking too hard, if I need encouragement or escape, if I want to challenge myself as a writer, or if I want to dive into beautiful writing. I have options.
6. As I said before, I keep track of which books I read. I keep a list in my bullet-journal-thing, by month. It’s fun to track my progress and also to note that I seem to read more books in very stressful months. My method is very simple. I just write the month’s name at the top, and as I finish books, I write them down: title, author, and 0-2 stars. Zero stars means I didn’t like it, or thought it was just average. One star means it was good, and two means it was great. At the end of the year, I make a little chart that shows how many books I read each month, how many were fiction vs how many were nonfiction, and how many were zero, one, or two star books. And then the yearly total. Last year, for example, I read 43 fiction books, of which 19 got two stars and 15 got one, and 33 nonfiction, with 9 two-star books and 14 one-star books. The rest got no stars. So I read 28 books last year that were really great! How fun is that?
7. I don’t watch very much TV. That frees up a whole lot of time.
8. I read books I love. Yes, there are some that I read because they’re good for me, ones I read because I need or want to learn about something but I don’t love the process of learning about it. There are some that are not super well-written but I read them for the content. But mostly, I read books I want to read. Stories that grab me, plots that are fascinating, topics that I am interested in or want to learn about, writing that takes my breath away with its loveliness. Reading is fun when you read books you love.
If you don’t love to read, no worries. You’ve got other hobbies, things you do to relax, to enjoy yourself, to connect with the world, and I’d love to hear about them. Just because reading is mine doesn’t mean it has to be yours, too. But if you want to read more than you currently are, give one or two of these strategies a try. And if you are an avid reader, tell me: how do you find the time?