Last week I made a Twitter thread with a few tips on reading more – I had encountered a bunch of tweets from people commenting on how much (or little) they had read in 2018, and what their goals are for 2019. I thought it would be nice expound a little more on it. Plus, you know, I’m a librarian. This is kinda my thing.
1. Check out ebooks from your library.
It took me a little bit to adjust to the idea of electronic books when they first started becoming a thing about 10 years ago. I definitely preferred holding an actual book in my hand. But I had a conversation with a woman at the bookstore I was working at who was looking to self-publish her book on helping women get out of abusive relationships, and we talked about how convenient ebooks are because you can very easily hide what you’re reading from those around you (which a victim of an abusive relationship might need). I pinpoint this as when the tide started to turn for me with regard to ebooks. Now I could see a real benefit. And the list continued to grow.
But I didn’t really get into ebooks until my second library job in Georgia. My director was a voracious reader, and on her lunch break you’d see her with her iPad mini reading a romance novel. I decided an iPad mini was the way to go, and as soon as I got it I hopped on to OverDrive and started to checking out books. As a librarian I could participate in Library Reads, and got access to all the digital advance reader copies on Edelweiss. I dove in head first, and became a believer. Being in grad school, and a bout of depression that followed, had really slowed my reading game, and now with access to ebooks my reading kicked back into high gear.
One thing I found was that I could get through books faster, since I always had plenty of reading material on my phone. I could easily nab 5-10 minutes here and there reading while waiting for other things, and those minutes would add up. Getting ebooks meant I could read them on my work laptop when it was slow at the reference desk. And since it was free from the library, I could find a book wherever I had internet. Finished a book in the middle of the night? Check out the next one and keep reading! Read a couple of chapters and didn’t really like it? Return it and no harm done and no expense made! I made a lot of older women especially very happy once I helped set them up with an OverDrive account on their mobile device and suddenly their library got way bigger and way more convenient for them.
2. Read a few books at a time.
I always have a few books I’m reading. Sometimes I have one or two ebooks going that I’ll read on my phone, a print non-fiction book I’ll read with a pencil to mark passages I like and information I want to retain. Sometimes I’ll have an audiobook in the car for my commute or road trip. For some, this may seem like an overload, and occasionally it is. But I find it helps to motivate you to keep reading. If you only have that one book you listen to in the car, you’ll focus on that when you’re out and about. You have a book on the Nazis that’s well-written and drags you down a little bit, and you can break that up with a hot contemporary romance that’s fluffy and delightful.
I just know that if I have a few books going at a time, I’ll always have something to read no matter what mood I’m in. I find that reassuring. And then I get to a point where I finish them all in a row and get to update my Goodreads and feel very accomplished.
3. Try audiobooks!
Caveat, I have never been much of an audiobook person. That’s just my personal preference. But they are so useful! And when I was living outside of Atlanta and driving to see my friends in Charleston, South Carolina about 6 hours away, I enjoyed picking a good audiobook to keep me company. I found I liked non-fiction best for audio, and enjoyed celebrity memoirs the best. Lots of quick anecdotes to keep me entertained, and if I zoned out while trying to find my exit, I didn’t miss much.
My cousin goes through audiobooks like a baby goes through candy. And he listens to them at 1.5x speed to get through them faster! That may take some getting used to, but it’s an option for busy people who want to “skim” through a book
4. Try a reading challenge like Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge.
I took an Adult Popular Fiction class in library school. You’d think on the face of it it was an easy class, but not so. Our instructor was a local public librarian, and she DRILLED into us that every book has a reader, and every reader has a book. Never judge a person for what they’re reading, because reading is a joy that comes in many forms. Each week we focused on a different genre and read a book categorized in it. I never would have read “bonnet” fiction (typically Amish romances) otherwise. And my favorite week was urban fiction. I picked Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark completely based on the title and was impressed with how good I found it. It’s not Austen, but the woman writes a good story, and I was further impressed to find that she wrote it while incarcerated. I have another level of respect for someone who writes a book that gets published while they’re in prison.
What I’m saying is, trying a reading challenge may help you find a new genre or author that you didn’t know you would like. Go to a different area of the library or bookstore and peruse it. Ask a librarian or bookseller for recommendations (as a former bookseller turned librarian, I can say I am so rarely asked for reading suggestions that it makes my week when it happens). Ask your friends and co-workers for their favorite books and read them. You never know what you may like!
5. Don’t finish a book if you’re not feeling it.
I’m one to talk. It’s taken me a long time to allow myself the ability to release myself from a book I didn’t like. It helps that I have access to so many books for free as a librarian, so I feel minimal guilt over deleting it from my downloaded books on Kindle or returning it to the library. But really, if you’re not enjoying the book, put it down. Let it go. Give it up. Send it away. Return it. You have this librarian’s permission. There are so many fabulous books out there waiting for you, don’t waste your time on a book you’re not enjoying. Maybe you’re not in the right mood for it and give it a few months and you’ll be in a better mindset. Maybe it’s too hyped up right now and you need people to chill about it. Or maybe it’s just a badly-written book. Whatever it is, move on to the next book on your list and enjoy that.
Read what you want and in the format you prefer. Enjoy what you like. Just keep reading!