Maybe you can too!
Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. — Joseph Addison
Before last year, I never really created a particular goal around reading. I’ve just always read a whole lot. I have been a voracious reader since childhood. Some of my best childhood memories are visiting the library with my mom and checking out stacks of books. I would be giddy with the excitement of all of those stories. So much to learn and digest. This love for reading has continued throughout my life and I’ve continued this reading habit.
Sure, I wasn’t able to read as much when I was a working single mom at university, and later a working mom with a career. But since I can remember, at least since middle school and likely before, I’ve always had at least one book going. It’s almost a security thing at this point. I feel completely lost without having a book to read at all times. While I like TV and other avenues of entertainment, reading is my true love.
I started keeping track of how much I was reading several years ago on the Goodreads app. I’m a big fan of the Goodreads app, which I will mention again in this article. This app allows me to keep track of what I’ve read, what I want to read, and allows me to set reading challenges. Last year I set a challenge of reading 50 books over a year’s time. I just picked that arbitrary number as I knew that I was reading close to that most years. I went past my challenge and ended up reading 53 books last year.
As we all know, reading is especially good for the brain. In a study conducted in 2013, researchers utilized MRI scans to find out the effect of reading a novel has on the brain. The brain scans showed that while we are reading, and for days following, there was increased brain connectivity in the somatosensory cortex.
While I tend to stay away from statements like this, I believe that all writers should be reading and reading often. I truly think that my ability to write has been improved by all of the books I grew up reading. I should also add that I’m naturally a fast reader. I don’t skim books, I just read quickly. That also helps me get through books pretty easily.
I acknowledge that it can be difficult to find the time and the headspace for reading sometimes. With the distraction of Instagram and other social media, our phones are just too easy to grab and scroll. I’ve been guilty of this while I’m reading. 30 minutes later and I’ve gone down a rabbit hole and didn’t get my reading done. It happens. But, here are the ways that I was able to read more than 50+ books last year.
Read Every Morning
I read every single morning. We all have different schedules but for many of us, we can adjust our schedules to accommodate our reading habit. The amount of time varies but I try to read for at least one hour per day, sometimes a bit more. On days that I work out, I read a little less, usually for 20 to 30 minutes.
It’s such an incredibly cozy feeling to curl up with a book in the morning, sip on a steaming cup of coffee, and read. When the weather’s nice I like to go out on my porch and read in the mornings. I’ve made it a part of my morning ritual. It’s now a habit. Find different places to read until you find your perfect set up and spot. If you really don’t have time in the mornings, commit to reading one chapter or 20 pages each day. On Sunday mornings, I sometimes read for the entire morning.
Part of being able to read 50+ books per year is to get organized. Again, I recommend Goodreads for this. Spend time perusing through lists and seeing what types of books you find interesting and add them to your to-read list. In order to read this much, you’re going to need to have books that you want to read.
I absolutely adore physical books and have a whole lot of them on shelves at my home. But, for reading purposes, my Kindle Paperwhite really helps me read more books. Plus, it is easier than trying to find books at the library (although I love the library) or spending a lot of money purchasing them. Instead, I check out books on my Kindle through overdrive on my city’s library website. I am constantly putting books on hold, searching for books, creating for later lists. This way I always have a book going.
This is an important step. In order to constantly have a book or two going at all times, I need to be requesting books regularly from my online library. As many popular books have long wait times, it’s important to stay up on that. Otherwise, you will find yourself without an interesting book to read. I spend time every week managing my books through the library and through the Goodreads app.
Reading as my Go-to
Another reason that I like having a Kindle is that it’s lightweight and small enough to fit into my purse. That way, when I’m waiting for appointments or have some downtime out in the world, I can whip out my Kindle and start reading. Sure I like to play on my phone like the next person, but using those times for reading is much more satisfying and can help you get through books more quickly.
If you don’t have a Kindle, try carrying around a paperback in a purse or bag, or if you don’t carry one perhaps keep it in your car. I credit these smaller reading increments as absolutely helping me read more than 50 books last year. Instead of scrolling social media, I read instead.
If you have a commute on public transit, as I used to when I worked downtown, try and read during that commute. Back when I was commuting, I was able to knock out a lot of reading that way.
Read Before Bed
Now, I actually didn’t do this for a long time as I tend to prefer reading in the mornings and throughout the day. I didn’t take the time to read before bed but now it’s part of my nighttime routine. I can’t say that I read every single night but I do most nights.
It’s important to stay off of screens before bed as it can harm your sleep. Instead, keep a book on your bedside table or if you’re like me, keep your Kindle Paperwhite there. Make it easy for yourself. I find that reading before bed actually helps me sleep better so that’s an added bonus.
When I’m good at sticking to my routine, I typically get ready for bed, get cozy in my pajamas, hop under the covers, and read. Some nights I read for 30 minutes, other nights I read for two hours. Reading both during morning and evening can really help you plow through books.
You certainly do not have to read 50+ books per year. It’s fine to set your own goal based on your life, schedule, and preferences. But, if you are interested in upping your reading game, try my suggestions, and maybe they will help you get there!