How to Read More
Recently, I posted an Instagram story about how I like to use Post-It notes to get the most out of my reading. People seemed to like that tip, and then my story disappeared.
I've never received so many DMs from people wanting to learn what all the fuss was about! So I decided to share this trick—and more advice on how to get more reading done—in a blog series.
Most of my tips for how to read more (or get the most out of your reading) are honestly pretty simple, pretty basic. They may not be groundbreaking tips for you, but they really help me.
As many of you probably know, I'm not a fast reader. At all. I actually took a speed-reading test once and got below average! I'd like to blame this on my meticulous editor brain, which likes to fixate on each word s l o w l y. I feel like I have to work twice as hard to read five books a month. So, this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Anyway, without further ado, my tips:
Buddy reads for accountability are everything.
If—and that's a big if—you can enjoy reading with other people without the pressure to be on their reading pace/level, this is a great motivator for reading. I read books so much faster when I'm reading with other people! I tend to buddy read on the Voxer app, and if I'm behind and there's a conversation going on about what happened on page 349, you better believe I'm going to KEEP READING until I get to that page.
It's just fun to read with other people, and I find I'm much more likely to read at random hours—for instance, late at night, which I hardly ever do because I get sleepy—all in an effort to read the big twist at the same time or get to the next part so I can finally listen to those spoiler-y messages. Some buddy reads are much more lax, and I believe they should be casual. But if a friend is excited about reading the same book, that excitement becomes contagious.
Post-it notes are your friend.
Break up the text. I'll say it again for the people in the back: Break👏🏼up👏🏼the👏🏼text. Often, the reason I'm feeling "meh" about reading is because I have so many gosh darn pages to go. But most of us don't read a book in one sitting, and twenty or fifty pages here and there—heck, five or ten pages here and there—really add up. Make your goals smaller and more attainable rather than: UGH I want to read this 500+ page book this month and how the frick is it going to happen?
I like to create page goal markers for what I can get accomplished in the days of the week, literally putting sticky notes in for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, et cetera. Maybe you want to curate your week's goals because you know you'll have more time to read on Thursday and hardly any time to read on Monday. Or maybe you want to put sticky notes in for every twenty pages, or every chapter. Find what works for you and visualize how many pages you have left for your next "break." This will really only work for goal-oriented readers, so if this feels like pressure or homework to you, I'd say pass on this advice.
Switch up your format. Switch up your location.
A few reader friends of mine made this suggestion in response to my Instagram story, and I think it's genius. If you normally read physical copies of books, try switching to a kindle. Maybe the "X% left" markers will be more effective than the Post-Its! If you can't bring yourself to read anything because your eyes are strained from computer work all day, try listening to an audiobook while you fold laundry or on your morning commute.
Try switching up your location as well: nothing feels more luxurious to me than reading at a coffee shop on a Saturday afternoon. If you have time to dip out of your everyday routine to do this, you may find some new energy and motivation to pick up a book. Or maybe your life is so busy right now, the best way to read your e-book is on your phone in line at the grocery store. Start small. Start somewhere. Or maybe you can persuade your partner or a friend to read aloud with you! This may take some convincing, but that's always a fun and different reading experience.
Return to your loves.
If you're a fan of rereading, try listening to or physically reading one of your favorites. There's something about falling back into a good rhythm with a world you love or characters you cherish. Forget about the TBR stack that's growing on your nightstand. Grab an old tried-and-true favorite and I promise you, you won't be mad you did (if it's a true favorite). If you've read Anne of Green Gables a thousand and one times, maybe check out the audiobook (side note: Rachel McAdam's narration is incredible. 10/10 would recommend).
Build in what you need—a little at a time.
This seems painfully obvious, and I get it. But the truth is, we prioritize what we care about. You may not have time currently in your life to read as much as you could have a year ago or ten years ago, but you can make smaller shifts to add ten minutes, thirty minutes, four hours to your days or weeks—and I promise you it adds up. Anne Bogel talks with Laura Vanderkam about this on her podcast What Should I Read Next and presents this idea of a "reading time log." Maybe you can't read five books in a month, but you can set aside an hour every Monday night, or twenty minutes before bed. Whatever works for you.
For a while, I set aside an entire Saturday a month devoted to reading. It was glorious, and I need to get into the habit again. Obviously this is a luxury, and I don't have little humans to take care of, so I can read for several hours at a time. But I found that building in this time every month helped when it came time to say no to other things.
Alone time, especially reading time, should not be something we feel badly about, as if we're being antisocial. I'm not saying we should all be reclusive, but it's totally valid to make plans to read instead of go out one night. Putting it on your calendar can help you mentally grasp designated reading time. I will put reading time on my Google calendar, and I'm not embarrassed to admit it. Make time for the things you love; it's that simple.
Pay attention to the “golden hour.”
I believe every reader has a time of day when it's best to read: when you're most awake and alert, when you can take a break from responsibilities and tasks, or when you're simply your best reader "self." Most people enjoy unwinding at night with a good book. I tried to make myself a night reader and save an hour or so for reading each night, but I honestly just fall asleep if I try to read past nine o'clock, even if it's a really good read (I know. I'm such a grandma).
It took a while to figure out, but I've learned that the best "chunk" of time for me is either early in the morning before I eat breakfast (with that delicious cup of coffee!) or right after dinner, around seven thirty or eight, before I clean up the kitchen. This time wouldn't work for everyone, but for now, it's the perfect reading time for me. That doesn't mean I don't occasionally read (or try to read) at nine or ten o'clock. But if I know I have other times built in to my schedule, I'm not relying on the time of day when I'm least likely to get reading done.
I have other tips and tricks to get more reading done each month, and I'm hoping to share them soon in a series! But for now, I hope you've enjoyed it. Let me know how you get more reading done in a week or a month and how you stay motivated!
Happy reading! x