When I was in high school dreaming of adulthood, my fantasies generally centered around the freedoms that would come with it. I’d think about living in an amazing apartment, meeting my soul mate, traveling the world… basically, I imagined being one of the ladies from Sex in the City. Amazingly enough, “work-life balance” did not make it into my teenage daydreams, but I’ll be darned, it seems to be one of the absolute biggest challenges that we adults deal with. And if you’re a book nerd like yours truly, you know that fitting recreational reading time into daily life can be difficult.
I wish I could add more hours to your day, but sadly I don’t have Hermione’s time turner. What I can do, however, is share the tricks I use to maintain a steady reading pace, while still getting to all the boring adult-y stuff I need to.
Squeeze in more reading by:
Listening to Audiobooks
Audiobooks are fantastic because they allow for multitasking. Chores, working out, driving — all these activities become infinitely more interesting while listening to an engaging book.
There are two primary sources I use for my audiobooks. The first is Audible, a subsidiary of Amazon that has hundreds of thousands of audio titles available for purchase. Since I have a three-hour commute, I can justify spending $14.95 each month for a subscription that provides one audiobook download and 30% off all additional downloads. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, you can still buy books individually, but the prices are a tad high.
The second place I get audiobooks is Overdrive, a service offered by public libraries that lets you borrow eBooks, audiobooks, and more from their digital collections. The best part about Overdrive is that it’s FREE! For those of you unfamiliar with Overdrive, I have an upcoming blog post with info on how to take advantage of your public library’s digital offerings, including step-by-step directions for downloading eBooks and audiobooks.
And for the purists out there who might worry that listening to audiobooks isn’t really reading, fret no more. Audiobooks aren’t “cheating.” CNN says so.
Creating a “To Be Read List” (TBR)
One impediment to reading is not knowing what to pick up next. Avoid this by taking some time to create a TBR. I like to think that I have a pretty good memory, but if I didn’t record the titles I want to read, they would be lost to me forever. Besides the fact that I’m a nerd with a penchant for lists, I love my TBR because as soon as I finish a book, I can choose something new right away and avoid losing reading momentum.
My online TBR creator/reading-tracker of choice is Goodreads, but there are some other options. LibraryThing, Listy, or Booklikes might tickle your fancy, but you could even *gasp* write out a list on paper or on a spreadsheet – so retro!
Choosing Compelling Books
This might seem obvious, but it’s a zillion times easier to finish books that actually interest you. I’ve found that many people try and force themselves to read books they feel they should read instead of reading books they want to read.
If you really want to get more reading done, choose books that entertain you, make you laugh, thrill you, compel you to keep turning those pages. These might be steamy romances, murder-filled suspense novels, or literary fiction – whatever floats your boat. I am giving you permission to give in to your guilty pleasures. Own what you enjoy. It’ll make your reading experience much more enjoyable and make you want to read more.
Joining a Book Club
I am a complete introvert and love spending time alone, but throwing a social element into my reading life is very motivating. Have you ever read a book that’s annoyed the crap out of you or blown your mind, but had no one else to talk to about it? Being in a book club guarantees an audience for whatever griping or gushing you need to get out of your system. Plus, knowing that you’ll be part of a group discussion will push you to finish the assigned book in time for the meeting. Another perk? Wine 🙂
Picking Shorter Books
Now this is a bit of a cheat, but seriously, a short book is still a book, my friends. And just say the word “novella.” Doesn’t it sound sophisticated? Read one of those and you can say you’ve finished a book!
All joking aside, short books are great for keeping reading momentum up. It feels great to finish a book, and once you have one under your belt, what’s to keep you from getting to the last page of more? Just like weight loss, set realistic goals. It’s insane to think about losing 20 pounds in two weeks, and it’s just as crazy to think you could read Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 in the same amount of time. Books like that have the potential to weigh you down (literally!) and prevent you from reading other fantastic titles that will do a better job of moving you forward in your reading goals.
Just a note – I loved 1Q84 but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. All I’m saying is, don’t stick with a book that isn’t doing it for you, especially if the act of holding it up might cause carpal tunnel.
Carrying a Book with You All the Time
I don’t know about you, but I always choose the wrong line at Sam’s Club, and when I do, I’m so grateful to have books on my phone. With today’s technology, it’s so easy to have a book with you at all times. Just get the Kindle or iBooks app, download a few books, and voila, you’ll never be bored in line again! (Of course, non-eBooks do the trick too.) Fill those little pockets of downtime with reading, and you’ll be getting through more books in no time.
Do you have any tips for fitting more reading into the hustle and bustle of your day-to-day? If, so please enlighten us in the comments!
Erin saysSeptember 12, 2016 at 11:32 am
When I have a bit more spare time, I read about three books at once and commit to a chapter or so (depending on chapter length). This helps me get through the books in a more timely fashion.
I love your comment about joining a book club. I joined a super laid back one on Goodreads that is a “go at your own pace”-style with categories where you post a comment when you’re done reading. It is called the 2016 Reading Challenge (https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/153078-2016-reading-challenge)
Also – love audiobooks! Perfect for listening while baking or cooking!
Thanks for the post!
Jenny saysSeptember 12, 2016 at 9:24 pm
I have filled many a book with stationary bike sweat, and because I almost always read with a pen in hand (unless it’s a library book, of course, Kristen!), it makes the ink bleed and it is all rather messy…
But most good things in life are, right?