Don’t count the days, make the days count. Printed on vintage book page is the quote by Muhammad Ali

7 Ways Adults Can Read More This Year… And Every Year!

I’m gonna go ahead and start out with a confession. I buy LOTS of books, and because we operate a bookstore you might pair these facts together and assume that I’m also a huge reader. Nope. The truth is that, like most people, I always find 100 reasons to put off reading until another day… a never reached “tomorrow”. Which is why my nightstand is overwhelmed with a dozen neglected titles sitting on, underneath, or in the drawers. Can you relate?

How can I… How can WE… kick lazy patterns to the side and redevelop a consistent reading habit? Here are SEVEN strategies I plan to use to accomplish reading MORE this year…

1. Car Commitments

I often refer to my car as my office because when my children were little it was the one space I could run to complete a phone call without interruption. This year I plan to revisit those memories by committing to at least two pages before I exit the car. Every time. It’s OK if those two pages turn into 12 pages. But if I get in the car, like putting on a seatbelt and adjusting my mirrors I will without fail read at least two pages before I exit. This I vow.

2. Car Copies

Speaking of that commitment to read in my car, I plan to keep a book in the center consul. Depending upon what genre I am reading and how interested in the book I am, that might mean I buy a second copy so I can continuously work on the same book. Other times I might keep nonfiction in the car and have a fiction book going at my bedside table. Either way, I’ve already decided that I’m not gonna stress about the marginal bit of money to occasionally buy second copies because a good reading habit is going to bring me return dividends similar to a pedicure. And I don’t question how THAT feel good ritual pays off! So, I will have a book in my car at all times this year and, yeah, just like my pretty toes tucked inside rain boots it’s my business. No justification is necessary.

3. Non-Monogamous Reading

Who said reading has to be a solitary and dedicated project? I’m capable of hearing about a dozen news items every evening and not blurring the storylines and details between each of them. So of course I can read more than one book in the same week! I will make it part of my regular practice to try to read more than one book simultaneously when reasonable. I imagine it will only feel unreasonable when I find that rare title that captures my attention and patience to the point where I don’t want to put it down. But if I’m being honest most of the time I’m so picky and discerning that the plot doesn’t hold me hostage to that degree. So I’m going to play the field. Reading multiple books, here I come!

4. Audiobook Assistance

I used to think that audiobooks were impersonal and annoying. Actually I used to think it was cheating. Then one day I looked across the room and I saw my daughter with earbuds in, listening to an audiobook while flipping through pages of a physical book. Wait a minute! You can DO that? (Insert my jaw on the floor.) Of course you can do that! There are no rules here. And thus… The lightbulb went off above my head. I began to recognize that audiobooks can be an AID to reading ACTUAL books. Incorporating audiobooks is not just a winning strategy for me, it will also deliver this satisfying little bonus because I know every time I download an audiobook I’m giving a little kickback to an independent bookseller that I love. How? Well, we subscribe to because of their consistent commitment to partnering with independent bookstores like ours. Plus they have a huge catalog, so I have no doubt the book I’m reading at bedtime or in the car will be in their audiobook library. 

5. The Cutbait 30 Rule

I admit being vain and shallow. If a book cover doesn’t grab me… If a character name sounds too fantastical or ridiculous… If the narration feels too preachy… The book is dead to me. I can’t get into it. So, with so many proverbial fish in the sea, I’m going to cast my search wide and if it isn’t clicking by page 30… Goodbye! Nice knowing you. No guilt. No shame. Just moving on. By trimming the fat and not stubbornly forcing myself to digest the duds, I save my time and consume more.

6. Setting The Mood

Have you ever tried to meditate? It’s hard work trying to free your mind! It’s especially difficult if your physical space doesn’t inspire serenity. I find that it’s MORE stressful trying to relax when your dishes need done or the washing machine is beeping. Similarly, it’s impossible for me to read if certain conditions aren’t met. Personally, I love reading early in the morning before my household is buzzing. Somewhere between coffee consumption and having to wake the kids. I commit to the ritual of setting the mood to read every morning I can reasonably swing it in my busy life.

7. Library Drop Ins

This last and most important strategy might sound weird, but work with me here. Libraries are community funded spaces to research, check out books, AND READ. With my kiddos were little, we visited the library every week and checked out the maximum. We walked away with huge stacks of books so I’m passionate about what library‘s offer and the kinds of spaces that they make possible for families. But now that my kids are older, I honestly don’t check books out nearly as much as I buy them. Partly because I’m a margin writer… A highlighter… A page folder. My brutality is not library book friendly. And when I fall in love with a book, I don’t WANT to return it by the deadline! So as much as I love libraries, I don’t visit them much anymore because I like owning my copies. But… Libraries do create inviting nooks with comfy chairs. They set the scene so perfectly with potted plants, great lighting, and temperature control. If I’m going to read more, reading my own books AT the library will be a fun little get-away indulgence. The reading equivalent of an Airbnb. Library, here I come!

I don’t know how far these strategies will get me but I’m excited to incorporate each of them and I hope you’ll try a few with me. And, hey, if you have a minute to spare please let me know what creative tricks you have up your sleeve. 

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