I’ve always loved reading. Even in college, I’d try to read for fun outside of class, homework, my social life, and my 4 jobs. Over the past few years, I’ve been trying to beef up how much I read, and this year I’m going for my biggest goal yet: 52 books in a calendar year, or one book per week. 😳
Reading seems to have gotten popular again in the past few years (I assume it’s thanks to our collective technology burnout), so if you’re also looking to make a bigger dent in your To Be Read pile this year, these tips might be useful!
Make It a Priority
The first step is the most important, and to be honest, the other tips don’t work well unless you’ve got this one down. You have to make reading a priority in your life.
When faced with free time, you have to actively choose to spend that time reading, instead of watching TV, listening to podcasts, or scrolling through Instagram.
I read three books in the first two weeks of 2020, and I loved it. But you know what else happened? My house wasn’t quite so clean. I didn’t watch many movies with my husband. Laundry was left until it was absolutely necessary.
Reading was my priority. And I accepted it, so I felt no guilt about it!
Library Books = Built-In Deadlines
This has been the best discovery that I accidentally made this year.
If you want to read more books, utilize the library. This isn’t just because of the plethora of books available to you (though that’s definitely part of it!). It’s much more psychological: the library gives you deadlines.
Previously, when I’d hear of a book I was intrigued by, I’d put it on my Goodreads Want to Read shelf. The only problem? Apparently that’s where book recommendations go to die, because I never refer to it when I’m looking for a book to read.
Instead, I go to my library’s website and place a hold on the book. Then, a few days later, I get a text saying I have books available for me. By this time I’ve probably forgotten what the book is about, so it’s like a Christmas gift!
Once I pick up the book, I have three weeks to read it. I do really well with external deadlines, so this is the perfect motivation for me! Even though my library no longer has late fees, I still feel obligated to renew it or return it in time, so it gives me a sense of urgency.
Read Books I Enjoy (and give up on books if needed!)
This is always difficult for me, and I’m going to be practicing it all year.
If I don’t like a book, I’m allowed to give up on it.
I’m much more likely to spend time reading if I’m enjoying the book I’m reading. When I’m not loving the book, it’s harder to feel motivated to pick it up, so I just… don’t.
Some books have a rough beginning, so my goal this year is give every book the benefit of the doubt for the first 40%. After that, if I don’t love it, I can give it up.
Read Diverse Types of Books
Let’s be honest, 52 books is a lot. And book burnout is real! I’d get sick of it if all of the books I read this year were the same genre and followed the same story arc.
Instead, I’m planning to read a diverse selection of books. Diversity in this sense means many things: the genre (especially fiction vs. nonfiction), the types of stories, the diversity of the authors and/or main characters, and the length of the book, for example.
By changing up what I’m reading, I can avoid book burnout!
Get a Head Start
I read a tip somewhere (I can’t remember where! gah!) about reading a good chunk of the book in your first sitting. I think it’s such great advice! It can take a bit to get into the storyline of a book (looking at you, Eleanor Oliphant), but when I do, I typically don’t want to put the book down.
So this year, I’m planning to read 15-25% of the book the first time I sit down to read it. I know this won’t be possible all the time, but whenever I can, I’m going to strive for it!
But the head start mentality also relates to the calendar year: I’ve got plenty of time to read right now (hello, snow), but I know in the future I’m not going to. I’ll be traveling a few times, the weather will warm up and I’ll want to go out more often, etc.
Because of that, I’m trying to sprint through as many books as possible (while still enjoying them, of course) in the early months, so that if I fall off the wagon a few months in, I don’t totally give up on my goal.
Ideally, my Goodreads Reading Challenge will always tell me I’m either on track or at least one book ahead–fingers crossed I never actually fall behind (even if I slow down)!
Track My Progress!
Speaking of Goodreads, whenever I set a goal, I neeeeeeed to track it. Typically in more than one place. It’s actually been proven that the more you monitor a goal, the more likely you are to achieve it.
So far I’ve loved my increased focus on reading this year, and I hope you do, too!
Have any book recommendations for me? Leave them in the comments and I’ll be sure to place a hold on them with my library! 😊