I have a confession to make.
The year is a quarter of the way gone, and I’m already behind on my reading goals for 2018.
That’s right: the bookseller, who is CONSTANTLY surrounded by books, can’t seem to sit still long enough to read some of them. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve read a few, but compared to my usual number by now, it’s measly.
It’s times like these when I’m ashamed to call myself a bibliophile. How can I claim that books are my life when I’ve barely made a dent in my TBR list this year?
It’s easy to make excuses for myself (I’m too busy with work + the business, I’m too tired, I have this and that obligation…the list goes on), but that stops now. I know there are ways around the time constraints, because I’ve gotten past them before. I’m determined to do it again. I will always be busy, but I will never give up my love for reading. And I’ve got one more thing on my side: a mountain of books that I’m beyond excited to dive into.
So, here are the nine best tactics I’ve found to motivate me when I start to neglect my love for reading.
- Listen to Audiobooks
Audiobooks are especially useful when you’re stuck in the car for long periods of time, but they can be great for working out or going for a leisurely stroll. Personally, my mind tends to wander when I listen to audiobooks, but if I have something repetitive to do (especially with my hands, like cooking or cleaning), I find that helps tame my restlessness.
- Try Reading a Graphic Novel
There are some incredible graphic novel series out there (see a short list of recommendations below), and they’re great palate cleansers after reading a tome. That’s not to say they can’t have depth of story – in fact, this genre excels at that, especially when told in series form.
- This One Summer
Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Horror
- The Wicked + The Divine
- Paper Girls
- The Sandman
- Locke + Key
- ALWAYS Carry a Book With You
Even if all you can fit is an e-reader. I’ll forgive you this time. ;)
Yes, even I recommend using an e-reader in some situations. If it’s the only thing you can fit/comfortably carry with you, or if you prefer to bring it on vacations rather than stuff your suitcase full of books, I’m all for it. Reading is reading (even though reading e-books really isn't the same as reading real books).
One caveat: it’s a sad day when you pull your favorite paperback from your bag only to find it’s been worn or warped. If you do have room for a paperback in your purse or backpack, I would suggest buying a book protector. I’ve seen some creative booklovers selling book sleeves made from awesome fabrics on Instagram – check out @bookbeau, @bookbestiesuk, or @fella_and_bella if you’re interested.
- Mix Up Your Genres
This is one of the best tactics I’ve found for avoiding or escaping the dreaded reading slump. If you typically stick to fiction (like me), try picking up a nonfiction book on a topic you’re interested in. If you typically read adult books, there are some wonderful children’s books that are equally as engaging for adults. I’m happy to provide some recommendations, just send me an email. Who knows - you might find a new favorite genre!
- Leave a Book of Short Stories in the Car or at Work
That way, when you’re running errands or have a few minutes to spare, you can read small chunks at a time without forgetting what happened the last time you picked up the book.
- Keep Yourself Accountable AND Give Yourself Some Wiggle Room
Record your yearly reading goal on Goodreads, and check in on it every once in a while to help motivate you. It will tell you if you’re behind, and by how many books.
If you’re a planner, write down which books you plan to read each month and check them off that TBR (to-be-read) list as you complete them. But don’t feel like it’s set in stone! There’s nothing that will stall your reading habits more than being forced to read a book that doesn’t sound appealing or that isn’t capturing your attention at that moment.
If you’re more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, try to have a stack of books around you at all times for when the reading mood strikes. That way, you’ll have lots of choices to pick from and you'll be less likely to get discouraged.
Actually, I’ll go a step further – EVERYONE should keep stacks of books lying around at all times (or neatly organized bookshelves, if that’s your thing). Personally, I do both. It’s just good for the soul.
- Join a Reading Challenge on Bookstagram
This is a great way to branch out of your reading bubble. #Bookstagram is an incredible Instagram community of like-minded bibliophiles who are always willing to support each other or provide a book recommendation.
A reading challenge typically includes a short list of themes on which to base your book choices for the month. For example, ‘a book with a color in the title’, ‘a book that’s been on your TBR list for over a year’, or ‘a book set at sea’.
These are especially perfect for those who have trouble choosing their next book to read. Doing a challenge means others will be involved to help motivate you, and vice versa. It gives you a chance to get creative and try books you may not have thought to pick up. Check out @foxandwit for some really cool monthly reading challenges.
- Read a Book Aloud With Your Spouse/Child/Friend/Sibling
Spending quality time with family and friends is one of my favorite things to do, and so is reading. I’m sure I’m not alone in this sentiment. You can switch off who gets to read aloud, and make sure to leave room for discussion afterward. This is one scenario where you can have your cake AND eat it (as long as you can agree on a book)!
- Participate in a Read-A-Thon (or Just Set One Up For Yourself)
Read-a-thons come in many forms. Some are 24-hours straight, and others are just one night or a few hours. I’ve even seen weekend-long read-a-thons. One of the best things about read-a-thons is the community surrounding them: booklovers share their own read-a-thon experiences on social media & blogs alongside you, and they can help cheer you on. But if that sounds overwhelming to you, you can always start with your own personal read-a-thon where you get to dictate the length of time.
So, how do these work? You select a pile of books to read, keeping in mind that you’ll probably want to switch between genres to help keep your momentum going. Set aside a chunk of time, free of distractions, where you settle into a comfortable chair with everything you need (a book, a blanket, some tea or coffee, lots of snacks, and maybe your cat/dog/child). And be sure to leave your cell phone in another room!
So, that’s it: my unfailing list of tricks to help you conquer your reading goals. If you’re skeptical that some of these will actually work for you, that’s okay. Maybe just pick one or two that fit your lifestyle best and try them out. Just like for me, they might work wonders when you find you’re neglecting your reading habits. The key is to be intentional with them.
Good luck, and happy reading!