Before my son was born I was a voracious reader. Ever since I was a kid and well into young adulthood you would always find me reading one or two books at a time. I would spend entire evenings or weekends lost in a great book. Fast forward to parenthood and I found myself reading only a few books a year for personal pleasure. My reading was relegated to daily bedtime stories with my kiddo or reading for professional growth.
I had told myself that I simply didn't have the time to read anymore.
But a few years ago I was inspired to increase my reading after seeing how many books my sister-in-law was going through. She is a fellow busy Mama like me and made time. Why couldn't I? I knew that if she could take the time to read as much as she did, I could too. I went from reading less than a handful of books a year to reading 36 in a year!
Want to know how I did it?
Here are the 5 things that helped me get back to my love of reading:
1. I set a goal
The first thing I did was set my goal for how many books I wanted to read in a year. Last year my goal was to read 24 books in 12 months. I figured two books a month was an achievable goal. In addition to this goal, I also resolved to read one book a month for pure pleasure and fun, and one book a month that would increase my knowledge in a variety of interest areas. I wrote down my goals in my monthly planner and every time I finished a book I numbered it in my planner and even wrote a mini-review of each book as I completed them. I set my goal again at the beginning of this year and now my goal is to read three or four books a month. I check in on my numbered list of books at the beginning of each month to see how I am doing towards my goal. I also keep a wish list of the books I want to read next once I'm done reading my current selections.
2. I got a library card
If I wanted to read more books I knew I needed to have more books on hand. Books can be costly and my goal of reading 24 books in a year meant I would also be spending $500 or more. I honestly didn't want to do that. I also didn't want to clutter my bookshelves further with books I would only be reading once. So I went to my local library and got a library card so that I could always have books and audiobooks on hand for myself and my kiddo — saving space and money (over $1700 in the last two years) in the process. Always having books on hand has led me to read two books at a time on a daily basis and as soon as I wrap up a book, I already have several books on hand from my wish list to move on to next.
3. I added audiobooks to my reading schedule
I have a confession to make. I used to think that people who listened to audiobooks were "cheating." One day on my drive to the airport I was listening to a podcast that featured an interview with LeVar Burton, my childhood literacy idol. The host of "Reading Rainbow" was actually asked if audiobooks were cheating. He said all of the benefits of reading a book in your hand are also enjoyed when listening to a book. The "reader" is still increasing their vocabulary, gaining new perspective or knowledge, and escaping into a new world or story.
This resonated so much with me that I began to add audiobooks to my book rotations. I enjoyed audiobooks so much that this is now the primary way I consume books.
Audiobooks allow me to take my favorite book with me on my morning walks, to get lost in a story while cleaning up around the house, to increase my subject knowledge while showering, or bond over a book with my kiddo on our drives to and from school in the morning. You can also "check out" audiobooks you can download straight to your phone from most libraries!
4. I made the time to read
I used to say I didn't have time to read. I now know that excuse was total bull.
I was wasting so much time on social media, games on my phone, or blah TV. If I wanted to read more I needed to MAKE the time to read instead of doing all those other things that didn't do much for me anyway.
In reading 36 books last year I didn't decrease my work hours or do less around the house as a mother or wife. This year my schedule is even busier than the last with work, supporting my kiddo through school, and contributing to the household, and yet I find I am still reading even more.
What has helped me is to be more intentional with my time and even pencil in where in my day I will be reading. Some days when I am really busy I plan on listening to an audiobook at different times in my day, other days I schedule some time to read out on my balcony for 15 minutes during a lunch break or to spend 20 minutes at the end of the day reading on the couch while my son is also reading his own book next to me. Think of all of those times you are mindlessly just scrolling through your phone screen. Instead, use that time to read a few pages in your book. I have learned that I often regret being on my phone too much but I NEVER regret reading too much.
5. I joined book clubs
I had never joined a book club until I set out to meet my reading goal last year. I have since joined a few online book clubs and even hosted a couple of them myself these last couple of years. The accountability of a book club is not only a great motivator to get through the reading of a particular book, but book club discussions can deepen the reading experience. I always walk away from a book club meeting with a fresh new perspective and understanding. I recently joined a monthly book club hosted at a sweet local tea shop and I have so enjoyed finding a community of fellow readers that inspire me to keep up with my reading and to read books that matter.