• Jessica Sherry

How to Read More Books

Adjust your attitude. Be more intentional. Make a plan. Get shit done. That pretty much sums up most self-help books, at least the ones I've read (and I'm a bit of a junkie), but lately, Joe and I have taken the advice to heart. We've become more goal-centric, and it's working. Focusing on what we want to accomplish has driven us toward getting there.


But... that's a blog for later.


READING MORE BOOKS is on both our goal lists and since we started 6 weeks ago, we've knocked out 7 books between us (not including my own that we're editing). Opening a book is far more relaxing and engaging than turning on the TV. But we don't do it nearly as often as we should. Usually, we're struck by end-of-the-day laziness. Mindless TV requires less effort, so that's what we do. But we're twisting our TV habit into a reading one. And the more we make better choices, the easier those choices become.


Coffee Table Books

Here's what's helped us read more books:


1. Decide to do it.


To accomplish the goal of reading more books, we should understand why we want to do it and harness that motivation. Joe and I both find reading more relaxing and beneficial than TV. We love books, duh, and like with anything else you love, it should get attention.


If you need motivation to make this a top goal, check out this healthline.com article on reading benefits. Reading reduces stress, improves intelligence, and helps you sleep better and live longer. Few things can make such positive claims, especially those that require so little effort.


But reading offers more than the physical and mental benefits. Books give an escape that plays with your imagination, making it more interactive than TV. Books provide a personal perspective that may differ from yours, making you more empathetic. AND books allow you to learn something new in a fun, subtle way, like a teacher who makes you forget you're in a classroom. With so many beautiful positives, reading more books is a no-brainer decision.


2. Have a time in mind.


Once you've solidified your desire to read more books, figure out when you'll do it. That way, you can be ready. After dinner makes the most sense for us--we aren't too tired yet, and it's early enough to get a significant amount done if we want. It's a nice end-of-the-day treat.


But anytime you're seeking relaxation works. At lunch. In the morning with coffee. Before bed (as long as you aren't dozing over the words).


If you're a fan of audiobooks (and you should be, you really should be), you can fit reading in with other tasks. I enjoy audiobooks while making dinner, putting on my make-up, or going for a walk. A long trip or commute becomes less tedious with a good story to listen to, and Joe and I routinely finish whole books when we're traveling. Plus, it gives us something fun to talk about and do together. This leads to my next reading-more-books tip...


3. Give yourself choices.


Reading is so accessible. If reading a physical book is a challenge, there are audiobooks. For $15 a month, Amazon's service, Audible.com, offers a monthly credit, freebies like their Audible originals, and deals on more. And audiobooks are so well-done these days that it feels like you're in the story. There's a cheaper way to do this, according to modernmrsdarcy.com, by using Whispersync.


KindleUnlimited is Amazon's subscription service for Kindle Books, and it provides both ebooks and Audibles. There's a free 30-day trial, and according to this awesome article, Audible narration is the same as an audiobook, and you can switch back and forth between your ebook and audiobook! Why didn't I know this sooner?


If you're a Prime Member, don't forget to use Prime Reading, a borrowing library for books and magazines. I've read many great books this way, and the titles change monthly.


The main point is to have choices--audiobooks, ebooks, and paper books--so that when it comes time to read, you have options at the ready, making it easier. I leave books lying around, in our faces, so we're more likely to pick them up.


Bookstores are always lovely excursions, and it's perfectly okay to impulse buy. You can even support your local bookstores online here or find out where they are for visit IRL. Have multiple titles available in case you don't feel like reading horror every night or don't get pulled in by the book you picked.


Bookstore Window

Your local library is a good (and free) way to have several books at the ready, and they offer ebooks and audiobooks, too. It's okay if you don't read all the books you borrow, but give yourself a safety net... which is my next tip.


4. Say no to bad book relationships.


Buying or borrowing a book isn't a promise to commit entirely. Just like a first date doesn't mean they'll be a second one. This took me way too long to learn because choosing a book felt like a commitment I shouldn't break. But not all books and authors will suit me, and the last thing I need is a "bad-for-me" book ruining my reading motivation because I'm forcing myself to get through it. No! It's okay to set a book down and leave it unfinished.


Recently, I started a self-help book that I didn't like after sixty pages despite its catchy title and glowing accolades (I won't give the title, as I know how hard it is to write a book, and I refuse to demean anyone's efforts). Since I had a plethora of choices from the library, I set the disappointing one aside for another, much better one.


Then, Joe picked up the one I set aside and found it equally irritating. He stopped much faster than I did and validated what I've learned about books. I can't read them all, so why waste time with ones that don't jazz me? This is why having choices is so important to reading more books. If one doesn't work out, move on to the next.


5. Make Relatable Picks.


With so many excellent books out there, it's easy to get overwhelmed and stall out on the first step--choosing a book to read. It's too vague to suggest picking a book that sounds interesting because, hello, most books are. And they should be given the rigorous exclusivity of traditional publishing (uh-oh, my frustrated-writer is showing). It's hard to choose a bad book off a shelf these days, so relax and, certainly judge a book by its cover.


To narrow our options, Joe and I pick topics and stories that support us right now. We started with goal-related books because that's what we're working on. Joe's now reading a book on good health, aligning with his other goals.


For me and my desire for excellent fiction, I seek titles that relate to what I'm writing--books like my books. Or books that represent where I want to be--on the bestseller's list. As part of my goals, I plan to change reading genres with my projects. I'll read mysteries and thrillers while writing my last Delilah Duffy mystery, but I'll add graphic novels when I tackle my superhero story Adam later this year. This'll put me in the right mood for my writing AND provides comps for future query letters.


What books might assist in your work, hobbies, or lifestyle?


Picking genres and titles that relate to our other goals inspires more reading and motivation generally.


6. Try the Buddy System.


If reading is a struggle, pair it with a treat to develop a reading habit. Maybe you have a bookish friend or spouse to read alongside, visit bookstores with, and/or discuss books.

Other incentives can act as reading buddies, too. Hot tea or coffee goes well with reading. So, do cat cuddles, baths, beach time, exercise, a glass of wine, hanging out on the back deck, sitting in a rocking chair, swinging in a hammock.


Reading in a hammock



Reading at the Beach


Pairing the thing you want to do with something you already enjoy doing makes accomplishing the goal easier. Like pairing your morning coffee with reviewing your quarterly goals... I definitely see a goal-setting blog in my future.


7. Take manageable chunks.


Books are already segmented into manageable chunks. Chapters, pages, paragraphs. So, if you're easily overwhelmed by a long-ass book that you want to read, don't approach it as the epic it is, but take a page at a time. Not all books will keep you up until the wee hours, desperate to find out what happens next (although it's so amazing when that happens, and you should go with it!). Committing to a chapter a night or having a time limit makes the task less overwhelming.


Plus, if you don't race through it, you allow more time to think about what you've read. According to this article, reading even 30 minutes per week produces greater life satisfaction. And who can't commit 30 minutes to a good book, especially if it means a happier life?


8. Keep track.


Like adding dollars to your bank account, there's satisfaction in seeing your reading list grow. Can you beat the American average of 12 books per year (according to this article)?


My reading list is a part of my goals, so that's where I check off read books. But you don't have to keep a list the traditional way. Make it social at goodreads.com and discover new books and bookish friends. They also have reading challenges and book giveaways that you can take part in. Share positive reviews on bookseller sites--authors really need your love and support. Or, if you're a little unhinged, blog about books.


By seeing the progress of a growing list and/or expanding your book experience online, you're bound to become a prolific reader.


And a prolific reader = a happier, healthier person generally.



Other lovely thoughts on reading:


"Books are uniquely portable magic." - Stephen King


"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies... The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin


"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." - Dr. Seuss


"A book is a gift you can open again and again." - Garrison Keillor


"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." - Frederick Douglass


"What I love most about reading: It gives you the ability to reach higher ground. And keep climbing." - Oprah


Here are many more inspiring reading quotes and excellent book lists to get anyone started with a great reading habit, thanks to shereads.com.


Are you trying to create better reading habits? Share your tips, tricks, and favorite reads below & we can all climb higher together!



6 views