“To read more” is always a common New Year’s resolution.
There are a lot of great benefits to reading — it can help you escape and de-stress, learn new things, connect with people, make you think in new ways, and gain insight into the world. But spending more time reading isn’t always an easy prospect.
Here are 10 strategies to do it this year.
Make It Important
This is crucial — if it’s not important to you, you’re not going to do it. We’re all busy, and finding time to read isn’t just going to magically happen. You have to make time for reading because you love to do it. If “read more” is one of your goals for the year, write it down and make sure others know about it.
Goodreads has a great “reading challenge” feature that lets you choose the number of books you’d like to read this year and track your progress. Think of how many books you read last year, add a few, and set your goal. Shared goals on this social site for books can be motivating.
You can always find an online community that will help support your goal — whether it’s as impersonal as Reddit or as intimate as your spouse making sure you are reading from time to time.
Set A Time To Read
A few things are true of most of the people I know who read a lot, and one of those things is that they read before they go to sleep. You could spend the 30 or 60 minutes before going to sleep checking Facebook on your phone, or you could spend it reading a book!
It doesn’t have to be before bed, though — some people read in the morning, some people read after work, some people spend several hours on Saturday and Sunday plowing through their current book. The point here is to be consistent whenever possible. Getting into a pattern will help you keep up your reading habit. Find a time that works for you and try to stick with it.
This is another thing that committed readers often do — they don’t just read when they’re in their easy chair. They read on the bus, while they’re in line at the DMV, on their lunch break at work, and at the gym between sets. A few minutes here and there really adds up over a week!
Carrying a book with you at all times is easy when you’re reading smaller books, but e-readers make it a cinch to carry hundreds of books in your pocket. Fill up your Kindle or Nook with a bunch of books that you want to read, and you’ll be set to read wherever you find yourself. Keeping the Kindle app on your phone, tablet, and computer will enable you to read when you’re not expecting to.
Make Reading Social
We generally think of reading as a solitary activity, but there are a number of things that you can do to make it social. You could join a book club or an online discussion group. You can encourage your friends to read the same books so you can all talk about them. There are plenty of communities on Reddit for book lovers, and Goodreads is a great place to find other people reading the same books as you are.
My MakeUseOf colleague, Mihir only reads books that are recommended by friends and trusted book reviewers — he knows that they have similar taste in books, and he’s confident in their recommendations. He says it keeps him from wasting him on bestsellers that probably wouldn’t appeal to him. Seek out people with similar taste and see what they’re reading!
Take Part In Fun Reading Challenges
One of the ways that you can make reading social is to take part in a reading challenge with another person or a group (though you can easily do them by yourself). One of the great things about reading challenges is that they encourage you to read books that you might not have otherwise picked up.
For example, this reading challenge on Pinterest includes “a book with a number in the title,” “a book set in the future,” “a book with magic,” “a book your mom loves,” and “a play.” There are tons of reading challenges out there — just search for “reading challenge 2015” on Google or Pinterest and see what comes up. You might end up enjoying something you wouldn’t have picked up on your own.
Read Books That Are Useful To You
This applies mostly to non-fiction, a genre that’s often neglected when discussing strategies for reading more. Everyone has issues and topics that they’re interested in, whether they’re self-improvement, current events, history, business management, math, physics, cultural theory, agile development, or learning new skills. There are books for all of these.
Saikat says that he often reads books that spur him to move outside his comfort zone, as this is something that he tries to do on a regular basis. These books encourage him to step outside of the box in different ways that he may not have thought of otherwise. Think the issues that you’d like to know more about and seek them out in books.
Don’t Finish Books You’re Not Into
This is a strategy that some people disagree with, but a lot of people find it useful. If you’re not enjoying or getting anything out of a book, you can just put it down and move on to something else. Many people find this difficult, but others say it’s a huge help in reading more.
If you’re not enjoying a book, it’s going to be much more difficult to pick it up and keep reading. You’re more likely to find something else to do instead of read. By quitting before you get too far into the book, you can start one that interests you and blaze through pages that you enjoy. Some people say that you should give a book 50 pages, but you can use whatever works for you. You can always go back and try to read it again later — some books that I wasn’t able to finish the first time have gone on to become favorites.
Reread Old Favorites
Another one that some people will disagree, but one that helps me a lot. Some of my favorite books—Dune, The Passage, Dracula — I’ve read two or three times. I know that there’s a whole world of books out there and that I want to read as many of those books as possible, but there’s something really comforting in going back to an old favorite.
I don’t have a system for when I go back to a book that I’ve already read, but occasionally I’ll feel the desire to reread a classic that I absolutely love. There’s no reason not to do this — if you get that feeling, embrace it. You can always discover new things about your favorite books, especially if you weren’t totally engaged with it the first time you read it.
Save Certain Books For Vacation
Another tip from Mihir. Some books are best read when you’re on vacation, whether you’re at the beach, the top of a mountain, or in an urban resort. Mihir says that crime and thriller novels can keep him engaged on regular days, but that biographies and autobiographies are best kept for when he’s on vacation.
Keep your favorite genre of book safely aside for the right time to get into it or conquer it when you can dedicate yourself totally. Picking your books beforehand is a great way to make sure you have a great one ready to go.
Read Different Formats
If your goal is to read more, you probably have books in mind, but don’t forget that there are other kinds of reading that can be fun, educational, and very rewarding as well. Magazines, newspapers, blogs, and longform articles, all have something to offer. Choosing the right one might be difficult, but with a bit of searching you should be able to find something that you’re excited about reading.
Next time you think about signing on to Facebook for a few minutes or checking your work email in the evening, try reading something instead. Here are 8 great places to find things worth reading to get you started. You could even read longform articles on your Kindle!
These 10 tips should give you plenty of ideas for where to get started on your goal of reading more this year. Whether you’re setting out to read a certain number of books (my goal for the year is 30 — there, now it’s out in the universe) or just to spend a bit more time learning online, you have the tools you need. Now, find the motivation. Get out there and do it!
Are you planning on reading more this year? What strategies will you use? What do you recommend to others who want to read more? Share your thoughts below!