For a long time I went through a slow patch when it came to reading. I had too many books to review that just weren’t that interesting, spent too much time on the computer and just couldn’t be bothered to pick up another dull novel.
Reading had become another chore, something that had to be ticked off a to do list. My favourite hobby was making me stressed.
The whole situation made me really unhappy.
But since the end of last year, I’ve had something of a resurgence, and managed to get back into the habit of reading regularly – and enjoying it! A few people have contacted me to ask how I find the time to read so much, so I thought I’d share a few tips that have worked for me.
1. Give up if you’re not enjoying it
This one is so simple, but it isn’t always intuitive for book lovers. I always hated to abandon a novel part way through. I would plough on regardless of how long it took me, or whether I was enjoying it.
But I’ve come to realise that life is just too damn short for bad books that eat into my precious reading time. If something isn’t working for me, I’ll put it down and move on.
If giving up on a book just isn’t your style, think of it this way, you’re not giving up forever; you’re just putting the book to one side until you find a better time to read it.
Maybe that time will be when you’re trapped in a hospital waiting room or a plane for hours, with nothing else to do. Maybe it’ll be on a beach somewhere, when you’re relaxed and happy. Maybe a sick day, when you’re miserable and just want to forget how bad you feel for a while.
There’s nothing stopping you from coming back to it another time.
2. Technophobes: use a Kindle
For so long I stuck my nose in the air and proclaimed that I would never give up my love of physical books for a gadget. But after a few months of using the Kindle app on my phone and iPad, I’m completely converted.
In fact, I don’t think there’s any way I would have read so much over the last few months if it wasn’t for the Kindle app.
I’m naturally a fast reader, but this app makes me even quicker. I can scan quickly through the pages and flip on, faster and faster, racing against myself as the counter shifts along the bottom of the screen. The app really plays into my task oriented mentality, helping me check books quickly off the list.
Of course, I don’t always want to fly through a book, some stories are made to be savoured and I’ll never give up reading physical books.
3. Read more than one book at a time
Again, this is something I always refused to do, being something of a purist. And you don’t have to have four or five hefty novels on the go to make this work. Why not have one big novel that you’re working your way through slowly, in between other books.
Whenever you have that moment where you’ve finished one book, but you’re not sure which to read next, pick up that other novel and read a few chapters before you make a decision.
I’ve been doing that for a few months with Moby Dick. I’m reading it on my phone, so whenever I want to read but there’s nothing else to hand or I’m not quite ready to start a new novel, I’ll open it up and cover a few pages.
4. Read a little here and there
You don’t need a solid block of time to read a book. A few minutes here and there will quickly add up and they’ll get you engaged in the story a lot faster. Before you know it, you’ll be reading more and more.
I often pick up my book for five minutes while I’m cooking dinner, if everything is simmering away and doesn’t need my attention. It’s better than raiding the fridge on snack alert anyway.
On very rare occasions I’ll even be ready to go out early, and the same rule applies.
This also forces me to break my habit of reading in whole chapters. I’ll often flick ahead to see how long a chapter is; if it’s a couple of pages, no problem. But twenty or thirty and my heart sinks. I’ll worry that I don’t have time or energy for so many pages and put the book to one side.
But who said you have to read a full chapter every time?
Although, I need a page break, I can’t just stop anywhere…
5. Try an audiobook
Okay, I admit, this isn’t one I’ve tried personally yet, but I’m planning to. My hubby isn’t a big reader, but he recently got into listening to audiobooks on his phone in the car and he’s making much better progress through his chosen story.
An audiobook is also a great way to kill dead time, like commuting. Sure, for purists, it’s not strictly reading, but actually, you get to enjoy a story in a different way. I think it would be a pretty relaxing way to pass the time.
6. Don’t put it off until later
This point ties into the idea of reading a little here and there. As with writing, don’t make excuses, because you won’t end up doing it at all. The more you read, the more you want to read.
7. Make it part of your routine
Reading is a big part of the bedtime routine for many people. It used to be part of mine, but I’ve let it slip, partly because my hubby prefers to watch TV in bed and it can be a bit distracting. Plus I feel a bit guilty disturbing him by having the light on.
But anyway. Try and set aside a few minutes each day to enjoy your latest novel; it might help you get off your computer at lunchtime, or give you time to unwind after the kids go to bed.
However it works for you, build it into your daily life and you won’t feel so guilty for indulging a little reading time.
So, I’ve shared my suggestions for making time to read, but I’d love to hear any of your tips or tricks for reading more in the comments.