read more books

How to Keep Your Resolution to Read More Books

read more books

If you read more than the average person, you’ve likely had others wondering what kind of trickery you use to fly through so many books each year. I know I’ve been asked more than once or twice. Five years ago, just finishing a book a month was a stretch for me; not because I didn’t love reading, but because I wasn’t making it a priority. My habits have shifted over the past few years and my numbers have gone up tenfold, but there’s no magic involved—a few changes in priorities is really all it takes for anyone interested in reading more.

Turn Off the TV

This is not some high and mighty attempt at telling you the only way you can be a reader is by throwing your TV out the window and winding back the clock to the Victorian era. Not at all. I love TV way too much for that. But there’s a ton of bad TV out there, you guys. So many shows that we just turn on and leave on and before we know it we’re sucked into their suckiness. The year my reading really cranked up, I started turning the TV off when I wasn’t intentionally watching something and it helps so much.

Use the Library

It’s super easy to buy a ton of books, shove them on a shelf, and let them gather dust while you stare longingly and promise yourself you’ll get to them soon. I’ve done this more than I care to admit. Learning to love my library totally changed my reading. While I don’t always read every library book that comes home with me (there are many), I’ve found that due dates push me to jump on them much quicker.

Read on Your Phone

Or in your car. Or in the shower. Or in line at the grocery store. You don’t need to carry around a dedicated e-reader to sneak in extra reading time when you can access audio and e-books through several different apps on your phone (including OverDrive from the library!). Fifteen minutes here and there can add up much quicker than you’d imagine, so it’s always great to have a book on hand.

Challenge Yourself

Accountability can be huge for many of us, so sometimes all it takes is a good goal or challenge to get things going. Reading goals can be number specific, like taking part in the Goodreads Reading Challenge or the 50 Book Pledge, but they can also be a little more title and genre focused. Both PopSugar and BookRiot have challenges that can help guide you in your reading without placing too many restrictions on the books you pick.

Remember YOU’RE the Reader

Challenges can be an amazing way to jumpstart a new relationship with books, but it’s important to remember you’re the one reading, not some imaginary overlord requiring you to pick specific titles. If you know you have absolutely no interest in reading an 800+ page biography of Alexander Hamilton, don’t pick it up just because it’s everywhere and you need to check off history on your challenge list. That’s how reading dies. Yes! Be open to new topics and genres, but keep your interests at heart.

What are your best tips for becoming a power reader in the New Year?

 

  • I tend to (as you mentioned) prioritize what tv shows I actually enjoy, and then only watch those. I also schedule time (usually an hour before I go to bed) when I turn off everything and just read. Then, even if you’re in a fidgety mood, you’re forced to slow down and focus on reading, instead of ‘reading’ while surreptitiously checking your email. :)
    ~Litha Nelle

  • I gave in to TV in December but mainly because I was so busy with new job that when it got night time, my main time for reading, I was too tired to concentrate. I plan on watching less in January because mostly it was rubbish I watched. Last year I started with audio books when driving. This increased my “reading” – once I got the hang of them!

    • Audio books have really helped me pump up my reading, too. I walk 25 minutes to work and back every day, and if I’m not walking with someone else, I plug in. Knocks out almost an hour of audio every time!

    • There are definitely some points in time where reading just doesn’t happen and TV is all that works – I’ve been there!

  • Kay

    My reading really increased after my daughter was grown and gone. And again when I no longer worked outside the home. And again when we moved to the country and I began pretty much listening to audio all the time, driving, folding laundry, cooking, etc. That being said, I do think I have tended to rush through books. Seeing the big numbers that others consumed made me wonder if I was a slow reader or whatever. This year, I’ve decided to try to ‘read from my own shelves’ and also savor my reading. It’s not a race to beat other bloggers. I support your tips to ‘read more books’, but I also remind everyone to smell the roses along the way. Don’t be afraid to sit and ponder a phrase or even reread a chapter as go along.

    • I definitely agree! I think I hit that point my first year of blogging when I read the most books I’ve ever read…it was too many. Since then, I’ve read fewer and fewer each year, but still feel like I read quite a bit!

  • Oh my gosh – my mom asks me this question all the time!! This is the story of my life and how I do most of my reading: “Or in your car. Or in the shower. Or in line at the grocery store. You don’t need to carry around a dedicated e-reader to sneak in extra reading time when you can access audio and e-books through several different apps on your phone (including OverDrive from the library!). Fifteen minutes here and there can add up much quicker than you’d imagine, so it’s always great to have a book on hand.” I rarely read for more than an hour at one time…just don’t have those kinds of time blocks.

    • I rarely sit down that long, either, except for Sundays, when I get a ton of reading done (if I’ve finished all the *other* work I need to do). Piecemeal is the way to go!

  • Books on the Table

    I love this post! I do think people think they have to have big blocks of time for reading, and as you point out, that’s not necessary at all. One thing I’d add in addition to cutting back on TV is: PUT DOWN THE PHONE! I take public transportation several times a week, and have noticed in the past few years that everyone seems to spend most of the ride obsessively scrolling through their phones. Years ago, many more people were reading books.

  • Yes, yes, yes. I get this question a lot too. The simple answer is that I make time for it. Every day. No matter what.

    These are great tips, Shannon!

  • I get that question a lot, too. They also assume that I must be a fast reader. But I’m not. I just choose to read instead of do other things like watch tv, talk on the phone, go to the movies, clean my house (until I just can’t put it off anymore and then I power clean), check my e-mail on time (I’ve been known to get e-mails too late without much of an excuse – oops), go shopping (unless it’s urgent), sleep (I get 7 hours instead of 8 most nights to give myself that extra hour of reading – it’s worth it, for me, even though I know not everyone can do this). I also grab moments through the day. This morning I got to read while waiting for my daughter at the Dentist. :)

  • Lauren @ Malcolm Avenue Review

    I’m all for reading wherever/whenever. I’m never without a book, even if it’s on my phone. No, the phone screen isn’t too small to see. If it’s a problem, crank up that font size! When I was living in the bedroom with no TV I had another lightbulb moment about mindful TV watching. Turning it off (or not having one, sob!) means you have to make a choice to watch something. When I was forced to watch on the iPad, I found myself watching only what I really wanted to watch, and even caught up on things I had let slide. I’m not going to be in such a big rush to unpack the TV when I move back in. I would have thought you crazy if you told me that five months ago.

    • Up until a few months ago I refused to try phone reading, but you’re totally right…cranking up the font size makes it super readable and I absolutely love having it with me all the time (I used to forget my ereader).

  • YES YES YES. All of these things. I’m NEVER without a book. You just never know when you might have 5, 10 or 20 minutes to kill in your car or waiting in a coffee shop and that time totally adds up. I get most of my reading done when I’m commuting to an from work – my bus ride is 50 minutes each way. I’m also adept at reading while the husband watches sporting events I may not be as interested in.
    Great list!

  • Loooove this! For me, #1 would go from “TV” to “my phone.” I get sucked into mindless scrolling on Facebook and Reddit way too easily, and I have to remind myself to set it down and go get a book or my Kindle.

    This is going to sound weird, but I read a bunch of books on my phone during 2013, and I feel like I don’t remember any of them! This could be more the fault of reading them too quickly than the device I was reading on, but I feel like I don’t have the same problem with my Kindle. Life’s mysteries!

    • Lauren @ Malcolm Avenue Review

      Curious re the lack of recollection when reading on your phone. Do you think it may be because when you’re reading on your phone you’re usually out and about and your mind is pulled in different directions? Of course, I suppose the same could be said for audio many times. Same issue there? I have bad recollection in general, but I can lose an audiobook like a greased monkey trying to hold onto an eel.

      • Replying to you and Shannon here: I think it’s a combination of often reading in fits and spurts (is it TMI to say I read a bunch in the bathroom at my internship that summer?) and also that, because the phone screen was so small, I only ever felt like I got a snippet of story at a time. I think it was harder to keep track of how they all connected to each other, as you can with a book or a bigger screen. I’m just speculating here!

    • I’m super interested in your phone reading, too, since it’s something I just started doing recently. I’m mostly still a paper gal, but I keep a few books on my phone for emergencies.

  • For me: Step away from Wordbrain (and Set, and Cribbage Pro, and every other cell phone game I ever downloaded), and make sure to have a book downloaded to my phone at all times; then those five minute stretches become reading stretches instead of stupidgame stretches.

  • Yes! I love this post. I don’t even know how many times I’ve been asked that question.

    I’ve actually come to love the book-on-phone method. I’ll admit that I was getting really down about being a shit blogger and never being able keep up with everyone in the book blogging world once I started my own business. I realize that this is completely ridiculous, but the feelings were still there. I’ve started to feel ok with only finishing 45 books a year, as to opposed to 145 or whatever, and have realized that while I may have to spend hours editing photographs, I don’t have to give up my love of literature as a result. Audiobooks (from the library!) have become my best friend. I actually started a whole folder for them in Goodreads and managed to listen to 6 last year. I’m so happy that I love them now and can still enjoy reading (or listening) while also trying to make it in the world of entrepreneurship.

    Btw, I always love your posts and your graphics. Fancy!

    • I totally wish I had a good time to read audiobooks, but my commute is like 8 minutes and I’m a podcast junkie, so headphone time is dedicated to those. But I’ve been won over by reading books on my phone, and I never thought I would!

    • I want to try to read more audiobooks. I usually do podcasts in the car, but in Dec I had a book that I HAD to finish for bookclub and I found I can do an audiobook pretty well while decorating and mixing cookie dough…as long as it isn’t a new recipe that I have to concentrate on. I think I’m going to try more audiobooks in 2016!

  • Another thing I try to do is commit to reading 15 minutes per day… it often ends up being WAY more than that, but sitting down and picking up my book for at least that amount of time is generally all it takes to put me in the reading mood. Also, GET OFF THE COMPUTER… I lose HOURS/DAYS of my life wandering around on Twitter/Pinterest/Insta/YouTube/etc…. This is one of my personal goals this year… Great post!

    • I HEAR YOU so loud and clear. The internet sucks up my entire life.

    • That’s a good one…get off the computer! Sometimes I think I spend more time blogging about reading and planning to blog about reading and planning WHAT to read…..that I run out of time to actually READ!

  • Welp, I couldn’t have said any of this any better myself. I LOVE not having TV at our house besides the weekend Netflixing. And reading for Bout of Books this week during lunches and for about two hours before bed has shown me exactly how much more I could read if I’d get off my Facebook app.

    • I deleted the Facebook app for a while and I’m not quite sure why I added back to my phone – it needs to go!

  • Love this! For me the biggest one is turning off the TV. I still watch my favorite shows and movies, but if I’m not watching something, the TV is off. So many of my friends just mindlessly watch TV all evening and on weekends and flip through channels watching crap. The library is a big one for me too – being able to read something I’m excited about RIGHT when I am excited about it (without going even more crazy at the bookstore than I already do) is a huge factor in devoting more time to reading.

  • An emphatic “yes!” I agree that it’s tough to set aside dedicated reading time every day. I fit a bit in every morning while I drink my coffee before I run, maybe a little more before I head off to work, try to get some reading in at lunch (rarely happens, but you never know) and then while my husband is watching whatever he’s watching that I don’t care about in the evening. :) These are such great tips, Shannon; the pressure of the library time limit CERTAINLY helps me!

  • olduvai

    I’ve learnt to ignore the kids and let them play on their own for as long as possible. Of course soon someone starts crying or the other comes to complain about not sharing but in those moments where they are playing together, I hunker down and read

  • Amazing tips! I’ve gone for a year before without turning on my t.v. and just read, and if I’m reading an ebook, I put my phone on Voiceover and listen to it in the car. It really does help get a little bit in here and there. I’m trying to use my library more often, and haven’t thought about using my due dates to push me; I’m going to take in that advice.

  • Especially the one about finding small times to read! I do read pretty fast and that’s a factor in how much I read, but also, I am reading something most of the time. I get crabby if I don’t read while I’m brushing my teeth, for instance, or when I’m waiting for something to boil (this may possibly be a contributing factor to my terribleness at cooking).

    • I’m a pretty quick reader, too, so there is a bit of accounting for that. I’m so impressed that you can read while brushing your teeth!

  • I resisted reading on my phone for ages. But then, one day, I was stuck waiting for my kids and didn’t have a book around…. I will say that my “phone reading” tends to be on the light end of the spectrum (mostly romance novels), but it is a good way to read those books you wouldn’t otherwise make time for.

    • I just started with the phone reading and don’t do it much, either, but it’s so great to have a book everywhere!

  • I need to turn off the damn TV. I watched ALL 10 hours of Making a Murderer yesterday and now what am I doing? STARTING NARCOS. I’m ridiculous. hahaha

  • I always said I wouldn’t miss TV, and I don’t…with one exception…ice skating! Isn’t it hysterical?!? Really, the only thing I’ve desperately missed watching in 16+ years is ice skating! :) I agree that it is a matter of priorities. And honestly, I think I need to post an “I’m already reading as many books as I can until I no longer ‘work’ for a living!” blog posting! I am maxed out with the number of books I can read and it’s okay. I’m glad I’ve reached a point where I feel that way. :) But for those who don’t, then there are all these little changes that can be made to maximize reading time, and you have listed all I of those that are possible, I think! :) Great to know your increased numbers with these implementations!

  • Yes, turning off the computer, the TV, and the phone would help. Also setting aside time for reading each day perhaps, and doing more reading during the day when you can spare it — instead of at night when I’m so bleary-eyed.

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  • Heather

    Yes to all of these things. TV is definitely my nemesis, but in the last couple of weeks I’ve been really good at turning off the tv at 8:30 and going up to bed to get some reading down (or I listen to podcasts while crocheting). It amazes me how much I prioritise TV, particularly considering that most of the shows I watch are recorded, so I can watch them any time I want.

  • Elena

    Great tips!!! I 100% agree with the turn the TV off tip. I read sitting in bed, which also happens to be the place where I watch TV so, if I’m really tired, I may end up putting some CSI or Bones on. I always have to remind mysef that there must be time for reading as well, no matter how tired I get home.

  • Jennine G.

    What a great idea for a post. The TV one I have an extra part to…for me I have to find my own place to read…if my family is watching TV in the same room it distracts me, even if I have no interest in the show.

  • Great post!

    I’ve moved into a new place in Aug and I don’t own a TV (seriously!) and when I have someone over they always ask “don’t you get bored?”, but I prefer it this way. I can spend more time with my books. I do watch TV, of course, but at my parents’ home. I’m sure it will take me far in reading more.

    I haven’t really gotten into the habit of reading on my phone…

  • Amen to not watching TV. Or Netflix. Or YouTube videos. Not that I am dismissing any of them, but you are correct that there is so much garbage out there. People are so quick to DNF books if they are not satisfying to read. We need to be quicker to turn off the TV for videos/shows/movies that are equally unsatisfying. It’s amazing how much time becomes immediately available when you do.

  • Megan Kinney

    I bring my book to work and read during lunch. It forces me to get away from the computer and get 45 minutes or an hour of reading in. When the weather is good, I try to read outside!

  • Love borrowing books and yes, due dates totally get me reading. No, not every book I bring home gets read, but that is ok. I just take it back, better than buying a book that doesn’t get read.