LIt’s been said by experts that reading a little bit every day can help you be a smarter version of yourself. And while I think most of us are inclined to believe that is true, it may seem difficult to fit in time to read each and every day. Work, school, and life obligations often get in the way. But what if there was a way to read more, without sacrificing other parts of your daily life?
Good news: there is! Here are six of my best strategies which help me read more and genuinely enjoy my reading time every single day.
1. Figure out what you like to read.
Okay, this one may seem obvious. But it’s kind of a sad, overlooked fact that a lot of us don’t actually know what we like to read. When I ask people whether or not they read every day (a question which slips out of my mouth more times than it probably should) the most common response I get is: “I don’t really like to read.”
Not to be dramatic, but what else do you do with your time?
Actually, I think anyone can enjoy reading as much as the next bookworm. I myself didn’t like to read until I realized that I was constantly reading the wrong thing. Being a teenager at the time, I stuck to Young Adult Fiction. As it turns out, I don’t like Young Adult Fiction very much (except a certain series, which you can discover if you check out my post about my favorite books here). It appears that I do better with non-fiction, juvenile fiction, and the occasional general fiction book. When I discovered this, a whole new world of reading was opened up to me.
So take some time to really evaluate what you’re reading. Don’t feel like you have to read something just because it was marketed towards your age or gender. Feel free to read above or below the “suggested” reading level and who knows? You might just find yourself to be a reader after all.
It will also help to read widely. If you’re really not sure, why not try a little bit of everything? You can always put the book down if it’s not for you.
2. Utilize your devices.
I read on the internet that our devices distract us from being productive, and many things I’ve seen on Pinterest have suggested that when you really want to be productive, put your phone away.
Well, I disagree.
For the most part, I’ve discovered that using my devices correctly helps me to get more done than just read, although to learn more about what I’ve discovered you’ll have to hop on over to my post about smartphone productivity here. The bit most relevant here is that you can use your device to help you in various ways, especially if you’re busy and don’t have a lot of time on your hands. A few of those ways are:
- Download a reading tracker. I suggest Leio, an app designed to help you keep track of your reading. If you purchase the full version, you can set all kinds of goals and keep a record of all the books on your ‘to read’ list, however endless it may seem. For me, this app is really great, because my competitive self doesn’t like to be shown-up by anything, and this little dude will keep you on track by recording streaks and records.
- Set a timer. I recommend setting a timer for fifteen minutes – just fifteen minutes!- and allow yourself to put away all of your thoughts and to-do lists . You won’t worry about running over a time limit, and you’ll be able to fully immerse yourself in what you’re reading.
- Put in headphones. (You’re saying, really? How’s that supposed to help?) No, I mean it – just try it out. Many music-streaming places such as Spotify, Youtube and iTunes offer tracks to help with concentration. I didn’t think that I could listen to music and do anything, but it turns out, I am able to do more when I have these soothing, mindless tracks playing in my ears than when there is absolute silence and I have nothing better to do.
Here’s the thing: I do all of this, and it helps me read every day. In February, I read 12 books in just 28 days! And I rarely have time to sit down and read.
3. Listen to audio books.
This is the golden secret of readers everywhere. Audio books are your friend. Let me repeat: AUDIO BOOKS ARE YOUR FRIEND. I myself prefer a physical book in my hand, but let me say, it’s really great to have a good story in my ear when I’m driving to work, walking to class, or doing things like cooking or general housekeeping.
The very first thing I do when I get out of bed in the morning is pop in my headphones and begin listening to a story. It helps me stay motivated and keeps me entertained while I brush my teeth, do my hair and eat my breakfast. And it’s not even my primary way of reading!
You can purchase subscriptions to streaming places such as Audible, but there are also other free resources which have an excellent selection of audiobooks for free! A few of my favorites are:
- Libby. In my region, anyone with a library card has access to this app. It works as an online library: you borrow what you want and use it from your smartphone or tablet. When it’s time to return it, it deletes itself, so no late fees or overdue notices.
- Hoopla. This app works exactly like Libby, with a different selection.
- Overdrive. This app is an older version of Libby, and may be disappearing soon, but has a different selection still.
Also, it’s worth noting that these apps also offer e-books, and Hoopla offers music, comic-books, and TV shows as well.
4. Always have a book with you.
For me, this one is easy. I always have a backpack with me, which means that I always have a book in there somewhere – sometimes more than one. But for those of you whom this isn’t the case, the same apps mentioned above can help you keep one with you at all times.
Although I am a reader who prefers a physical book in my hand, I’m not opposed to keeping an e-book or two stored on my phone. Any time I find myself waiting somewhere (as a college student, this happens a lot) I am able to whip it out, put in my headphones, and pick up right where I left off.
The same is true with audiobooks. Even when I can’t have my eyes on the physical book (such as when I’m driving or walking) I still have access to the same information.
5. Join a reading community.
Reading communities had me suspicious at first, but I gradually warmed up to the idea of sharing my reading habits with other people (which is a good thing, I guess, or else you wouldn’t have this post). If you’re busy, like me, you probably don’t have time to go to a book club or a reading group during the week, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get connected with other readers.
The thing which really got me connected was Goodreads. Goodreads is a site that connects you with other readers (and is connected to Facebook, so you can see what your Facebook friends, people you already know, are reading) through an online community. What is really great about Goodreads is that it can help you not only track what you and your friends are reading, but can help you find other things to read as well!
There are other such communities, and you have to find one that works for you. But don’t be afraid to explore a little. If you find you prefer face-to-face interactions with readers, then maybe find a book club at your local library (some bookstores offer them, too) or, if you’re feeling really brave, start one yourself!
Who knows? Anything can happen. The important thing is that you’re connecting with other people who read, and can help you discover more books which you may really love.
6. Don’t be afraid to read more!
Through it all, the most important thing is that you ENJOY WHAT YOU READ. Some people really like taking three months to read one book, which is perfectly acceptable. Other people, like me, are more serial readers and like to roll through them at a brisk pace. There is room in the world for both types, as well as for people who are a mixture of both.
At the end of the day, you just shouldn’t be afraid to branch out to different types of books, or different authors, or different age ranges. If you like action, try some romance. If you like fiction, try non-fiction. There is a weird yet pleasurable freedom in walking into a library or a bookstore and knowing that, no matter where you end up, you’ll probably find something you like reading. And now, you have the tools to actually read it.
Enjoy these tips? Want to know more? Have some tips of your own? I’d love to hear from you!