As a child I carved out a reading nook in the corner of my room and read mystery novels after school. Those were idyllic days, when time blurred and I was quite literally lost in a book for hours at a time.
Fast forward to 2018, and my reading life was terribly lackluster. (I blame this.) Even though I desperately wanted to feel more connected books and kept adding them to my Amazon cart for “later,” I was in a different kind of nook that year—the writing cave, which took priority over all other activities.
But now I’m back! I’m sure you can relate to my exuberance after emerging from the other side and ready to consume, consume, consume. From fiction to cookbooks, plus a side of poetry, this year I’ve already read 15 books (including fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, and poetry), which makes me think all these experiments are actually working.
5 Ways to Read More Books
I have a whole theory about writing that involves doing it in margins—short windows of time that add up to a whole lot and over the past few months, I’ve tweaked some things in my schedule and discovered ways to carve out time for reading in the margins, too. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
01 Get into bed earlier
This seems like a no-brainer but it’s something I need to be conscious about, otherwise I’ll waste away on the couch watching This Is Us or scrolling through my Facebook feed. I try to make a little ritual about it, looking forward to snuggling up in bed, using some essential oils, and reading before falling asleep. Reading in a hot epsom salt bath has also been successful!
02 Embrace the library
There’s a little bit of urgency involved with library books. Not so much that it makes me anxious (I can always renew, after all), but enough to make me focused on the fact that the book can’t sit on my nightstand forever.
03 Read at the dinner table
My son is notorious for taking upwards of an hour to finish a meal. When the three of us are eating together, my husband and I talk, but when it’s just me and my littlest man, he sometimes prefer to eat in silence and isn’t very chatty. Rather than pull out my phone and start scrolling, I’ll crack open a book instead (poetry is great here), or pore over cookbooks to meal plan for the upcoming week.
04 Reading time = play time
Sometimes my son and I each pick a book and snuggle up, reading separately. I don’t always get very far before I’m asked to read aloud the latest adventure of bears like Winnie the Pooh or Paddington, but it’s building the habit of enjoying reading as quality time to spend together.
05 Use the kindle app
Until last month, I was not a person who read books on her phone. But that was before a writer I love posted her thoughts about the subject on Instagram and said she reads something like 200 to 300 books a year—woah! I decided to do what she suggested, and put my Kindle app on my phone’s home screen. You know what? I read an entire novel on my phone over the course of four days and loved it. Now I’m on my second one and it really comes in handy, especially when I’m early for school pick-up, or wake up earlier than I’d like but don’t want to get out of bed yet.
Here are a few more resources for carving out reading time:
The Best Way to Make Time to Read (from Cooks Plus Books)
“Reading Night is a pact between you and whoever you live with—husbands, roommates, toddlers, unemployed dogs named Pepper—to throw your cares to the wind for a night and do nothing but read. It’s by far the best, most reckless, and enjoyable way to make time to read.”
—Cooks Plus Books
How to Read More (from Austin Kleon)
If you aren’t getting anything out of a book, put it down, and pick up another book. Every hour you spend inching through a boring book is an hour you could’ve spent plowing through a brilliant one. When it comes to books, quitters finish more. Sometimes a book just isn’t for you, or it’s not for you yet.”
How to Find 20 Minutes a Day to Read (from Real Simple)
“According to 2018 data from research company SimiliarWeb, Instagram users average roughly 53 minutes. Take half of that, and you’ve knocked out a chapter or two. “Stop saying you’ll find time to read. Start saying you’ll make time to read,” says time-management expert Mike Gardner.”