Do you ever think that you should read more books? Maybe you used to be an avid reader, but then life got in the way and you dropped the habit. Or perhaps you think that reading is only for non-busy people, the kind who can spend all day slobbing on the sofa, unencumbered by demanding toddlers and chores. But reading is good for us. It expands our horizons, inspires us, teaches us, makes us more empathetic, gives us perspective, and allows us to spend a little time free of all of our own stressors.
So, here you are reading my blog and thinking – great, I know I should read more books otherwise I’d scrolled past this link. But HOW IS IT POSSIBLE?!
Well friend, of course it’s possible, and I’ll tell you how… if you keep reading!
Reading for entertainment is a hobby. If it’s not fun for you, then you will not find the motivation to carry on, so you need to make it fun. A huge part of this is finding your genre, see my 3 steps to finding your genre to see if you’re in the right place to start – and spoiler alert, you might not still enjoy the genres you used too!
Once you’re pretty certain you know what you want to read, and you just need the kick up the butt to get going, here are a few ways to get yourself motivated. If you already have a motivated badge and your lack of reading is because of lack of time, skip to the next section.
Find a reading buddy
A friend, family member, your partner – whoever happens to be in your life who also has reading goals and is willing to read the same book as you. This one is a bit like starting an exercise habit, except you can talk about a book over tea and cake and discuss the twists and turns of the novel. Reading can be quite isolating and if your reticence to start a reading habit revolves around you not wanting to spend so much time alone being antisocial, then this can be a good way for you to get lost in some truly deserving books.
There’s nothing like being with a tribe – even virtually! Bookstagram, the bookish community on Instagram who hangs out in the #bookstagram hashtags and share reviews, recommendations, favourite reads, challenges, and games, are sure to get you motivated to start reading more. Just be careful it doesn’t result in you buying loads of books to take pictures of and then never read them! Find me at the_book_hunters and say hi!
Start a tracker
Hello my Type A goal motivated list-a-holics who probably have a bullet journal! Yes, goal setting is a great motivator for a certain personality type. So, setting up a tracker in whatever format you want (bullet journal spread, star chart, pebbles in the jar – you know the drill) can clearly define your goals and stretch yourself to achieve. To maintain optimal motivation, keep your goals achievable. Maybe pick just five books to start with, or whatever feels good, and allow time for deviations, setbacks and life getting in the way again!
Join a book club
Book clubs are everywhere, even online. Of course, you can look around your local area and see if there are any good ones to get involved in, but you can also join Book Clubs online with virtual get-togethers and podcasts to discuss the book. Some even have subscriptions so they’ll send you a goodies box with the book and some extra bookish wonders! Book clubs are a great way to make you feel connected to a community.
2 Find the time
Time… tricky thing, isn’t it. Whilst it’s true that we all have 24 hours in the day, it is not 24 quality hours, and many of us have a long list of responsibilities that need prioritising over the whimsical idea of sitting around and reading. The demographic who awes me the most are the primary caregivers. The Mums, Dads, and carers who take on the unpaid responsibility to run the lives of 1+ people (big and small!) in the name of love – you doing amazing … but remember to look after yourselves too! Easier said than done but here are a few tips and tricks to claw back some reading time in your day.
Yes, in an ideal world your reading would be a sedentary activity curled up in your Pinterest worthy Book Nook and with a crackling log fire nearby. But the modern reader has far more tools to exploit. With Amazon’s Audible you can buy books with companion narration that means you can switch between reading words and listening at the click of your fingers – in fact, you don’t even have to do that, you can just open the audible app! This means that when you need to get up and unload the dishwasher, you can keep on reading as you go.
Following the same logic, you could also incorporate a bit of reading into your exercise regime – check out my post on 5 tips to be a healthy reader for more advice. By reading whilst active, you may find yourself wanting to put dedicated time aside to sit and read in your comfiest armchair instead of binge-watching another series on Netflix.
Clawing back the dead time
Stood in queues, waiting for the microwave to ping, waiting for the kids to get out of class – whatever it is our days are full of mindless dead time, so why not use it to read? Especially if all you have to do is stare at the phone, you were already staring at and just open a different app. 10 minutes might not seem much, but you can get a good few pages read and it will all add up, and bonus points – you get some chill time as well!
One of the easiest ways to commit to something is to make it a habit. If you say that you will read for half an hour over breakfast every weekday morning and you stick to that promise for a couple of weeks or so, you’ll form a habit and before you know it, you’ll be reading a book every two or so weeks without even thinking about it. By making time, you might also find yourself dedicating more unscheduled time when you get lost in a juicy bit of drama. The first rule of starting a habit is to make it something that is achievable every day, so start small and work up.
3 The Actual Reading Bit
It’s all very well motivating yourself and finding some time but then you actually need to read. I know! Shock horror! The thing is that we’re all different, so just because the stereotypical sat with a herbal tea and a blanket works for some people, it does not work for others.
Are you a visual or an audio person?
Let me tell you a secret. My partner HATED reading. Before the past year, the only book he’d ever read all the way through was Mort by Terry Pratchett. And then Audiobooks became mainstream – practically overnight – and he started listening to them on his commute. Then he got so into them that he carried on listening after he got home from work, and soon he was matching me book for book. He’d always claimed that he just didn’t like books, but in the end, it turns out he loves them – he just didn’t like reading with his eyes.
Get in the right headspace
Reading is relaxing, but paradoxically it sometimes helps to be relaxed when you start reading. There’re several ways to do this, depending on the kind of person you are. Listen to white noise or get some calming earplugs, maybe do a ten-minute mindfulness exercise first, or some yoga stretches. Escapism through a book might be all very well and good, but you might need help to break away from the real world first.
For some people just establishing a pre-reading ritual will help, as in making your favourite tea and putting on a blanket hoodie – not sacrificing a writer to the god of DNFs on an alter made of hardbacks. Also, you don’t have to be doing nothing whilst you read, if your reading nook is pedalling on an exercise bike, or taking a walk around the park, then go you!
Don’t be afraid of the DNFs
Did Not Finish – or DNF in fluent Bookstagrammer – is when you start a book and don’t finish. It used to be almost taboo with parades of people claiming that they always finished a book, even if they didn’t like it! I call bull on that. If you don’t like a book, don’t waste your time on it. Simple as – you don’t owe it anything, and it’s not a failing on your part that you didn’t finish it. Also, even if you DNF a book, you can claim it as the book you’ve read.
I have a variant of the DNF called the ‘Skipped to the Good Bits’ approach. This is where a particular character or subplot is boring you to death, so you just skip to the narrator you enjoy the most. For example, in Lord of the rings, after Frodo and Sam make like a banana and split, I GET SO BORED! Frodo you’re a whiny little hobbit! So I skip the my precious act and get straight back to my book boyfriend Aragorn. Which leads me to my next tip…
You don’t have to read in order
This is more for non-fiction. Quite a lot of non-fiction will follow three or four single viewpoint accounts progressing through time like there is in No Turning Back and How the Girl Guides Won the War. This means you don’t have to read the accounts in chronological order. Generally, the chapter will be arranged with the main character’s name at the start of each chapter. So read the book by character instead (and again, skip the characters which are boring to you).
I hope you found a helpful nugget of advice in there for you somewhere and that your mission to read more books comes from the heart instead of a bout of comparison-itus – we’re all different and it may be that you simply enjoy other things more. The first step to reading more books will always be wanting to read more books, after that it’s just a case of figuring out a how which works for you. If you think you might also be in a book slump, check out my post on 5 ways to beat reader’s block!
Happy book hunting friends!
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