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Have you ever wished you read more but felt like it was too much a hassle to get through one whole book much less a dozen of them?
I LOVVVVEEEE books. As a child and teenager, I pretty much only read novels. It wasn’t until I entered the “adult” world that I found myself reading anything that wasn’t fiction.
Discovering books was something that I believed changed my life even as a child. It opened up a whole world that I didn’t know existed. The first time I read a book that wasn’t fiction, but rather a self-improvement type book, it was like a lightbulb went off in my mind.
I suddenly realized that ALL of the struggles I was going through, someone else had too. The chances were VERY high that they had written a book about it.
I read book after book to help me work through the areas of life I struggled in. Which, as it turned out, was just about every area of life.
Not because I didn’t have my crap together (although that was partially true too) but because there is always room for more growth. As Gary Keller, author of The One Thing suggested – mastery is a path you journey down, not a destination.
So I keep reading, and learning, and growing. It’s why I can honestly say that books have changed every area of my life. I believe they will continue to and can do the same for you but I know it can often be difficult to get in as much reading as you’d ideally like.
In this post, I’m letting you in on my secrets for reading more without devoting your whole life to sitting in a window sill with a book in your hands.
1) Pick the Right Format for You
I want to quickly address the question I get the most often… How do you read so many books??
Let me let you in on my secret: I don’t always “read” them. What I mean by that is, there are so many different methods of delivery now, “reading” no longer requires actual reading.
Personally, I still love a good old fashioned physical book but it’s not always practical to carry ten physical books around with you (unless you’re Rory Gilmore or just really love a cute backpack).
There’s also different forms of learning. You may not be the kind of person who learns from reading but can take everything in while you’re listening and doodling on a notebook. I totally get that.
So, my best advice for going through a book or more books, is to pick the format that works best for you.
Here’s the formats I use the most:
I think this is pretty straight forward. If you love a good book and reading something you can hold is your thing, go for it.
A book habit can be a little pricey though so I utilize used books from Amazon (that’s usually my go-to). Sometimes you can get them for a couple dollars plus shipping. The library is always an amazing resource if you’re not feeling the desperate need to own the book.
You can also find books at thrift shops and an assortment of other used book online stores.
Audio books are an awesome option if you learn better by listening! Plus, they’re more time friendly. I listen to them while doing other things like the laundry, traveling, or taking a walk. The other great thing is they don’t take up any physical space cause most audio books have easy to use apps.
My favorite place to buy audio books is Audible. It is Amazon’s app for audiobooks. They have subscriptions where you pay monthly and get credits to buy books. I’m pretty sure they also have some sort of free trial, usually about 30 days. I get about a third of my audio books with Audible. Basically if I want to own it.
Another really great option is the library! Most libraries have apps that allow you to borrow audio books and listen to them these days. This is how I do about two-thirds of my audio book listening. Check your local library for audio book options!
The last option I really like are e-books. It is usually my third go-to but may be your first if you love the reading aspect but can’t carry physical books everywhere with you. Electronic versions of books have apps to read them on that make it really easy to flip pages, highlight sections, and take notes.
My go-to is the free Kindle app, just search your app store for it. Also from Amazon (I mean, Amazon was originally meant to just sell books so it’s no surprise they specialize in this stuff).
You can purchase books in the Kindle format and it’ll be sent straight to the app. You can also buy a Kindle reader which makes reading them easier. It really helps with the glare and eye strain you get from reading on a phone or Ipad. Josh has a Kindle and really loves it. I usually just have them sent to the app on my phone.
Here’s where things get fun…
Amazon does Kindle daily deals, so we get our e-books for 99 cents to $2.99 usually.
You can also subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. It is a monthly membership that allows you to read as many books as you want from their library of over a million books. It’s super affordable too and they do a 30-day free trial.
If you have Amazon Prime, then you also get access to Prime Reading which gives you access to thousands of free books.
Lastly, the library offers ebooks and my library sends them directly to my kindle app as well. So that’s an awesome free option there.
Here’s what I’m really trying to get at… don’t let “not being a reader” keep you from learning. There are so many amazing options for consuming knowledge out there these days. And if money is an issue, there are ways around that too.
I love my local libraries. They’re always one of the first things I seek out when I move to a new area. But even for the books I want to own, it’s just a matter of doing a little searching or waiting for them.
2) Read books at the right time of day
My other big “secret” is reading books at the right time of day. Our brains only have so much will power. Have you ever noticed that sometimes you can handle really in-depth or hard topic conversations well? Then other times you just can’t focus or handle it as well?
Well, I started realizing that my brain processed different types of books at different times of the day much better. So, I read my business books in the morning as part of my morning routine. My self improvement books I will often do as an audio book during an afternoon walk, and I read a hard copy fiction book just before bed.
If I read a fiction book early in the day, I’ll get pulled in and won’t want to do any work then. Whereas, if I read a business or self improvement book at night, my mind starts working and then I can’t fall asleep as well.
This kind of lines up with what I was saying about the right format earlier too. The audio book works well during my walks. But, I have to have a book I can hold for my evening reading. I stop looking at screens an hour before bed so the ebook doesn’t work.
3) Read the Right Books for You
Here’s another big pointer – read books that are right for you. What I mean is, consume the information and stories that you want to hear and are relevant for your life.
Unless you’re reading something just for the info, it doesn’t make sense to read all the way through a book you’re hating just because it’s popular.
We were forced to do that in school so it feels ingrained that we have to do that, but you don’t.
It’s a very rare occasion that I start a book and don’t finish it, but if you get into it and truly don’t agree with what it says or you just feel like it’s a terrible book, then don’t waste your time.
Give yourself permission to only read books that serve you and your life. Having said that, also have the grit to make it through the ones that are serving you but may just be difficult to read. Growth isn’t always fun, but it’s worth it.
So do yourself the favor of not wimping out on the books that make you uncomfortable because it forces you to grow.
Putting down a book because it feels hard and putting it down because it isn’t right for you, are two different things.
4) Make Reading a Habit
Over the years, I’ve gone through different phases where I read a lot and then not at all. I find that even though I love to read, I’m most consistent with it when it’s part of my routine everyday.
It’s why I’ve made reading a business book part of my morning routine and reading a fiction book part of my nighttime routine. Certain things that happen everyday are the triggers for when I start to read.
When I pour myself a cup of coffee in the morning, I just know I’m also going to grab a book. When I climb into bed at night, there’s a book on my nightstand waiting for me.
My reading has become a normal part of my daily routine and so it’s easier to just keep reading everyday. Which brings me to my last point…
5) Keep a Running List of Books to Read
One of the biggest things that trip me up is not knowing what to read next. I spend time trying to figure out what good books are out there and what I might want to read. Not having a book lined up stops my reading flow.
So, I started keeping a running list. I’ve found that as long as I’m listening, new books to read are always being suggested or popping up in front of me.
Keeping a running list of what I want to read and having the next one on the list ready before I finish my current book, has really helped me stay consistent.
I used to just use the notes app on my phone, but one day my sister-in-law introduced me to goodreads. It’s an app for books and you can keep a list of things you have read and things you want to read. We even suggest books to each other and can see others reading lists. It’s super fun and helps with the flow of having new books to read!
For many of us, our mindset towards reading is only negative because we were forced to read books we didn’t enjoy all the way through and then write reports on them, which we were then graded on in school.
If you feel like reading is really a struggle for you, consider why. Is it truly because you hate reading, or because of the way reading was presented to you? Did you struggle with your reading in school and were chastised for it? Did you only read when forced to?
Here’s the great thing about books you choose to read, no one is watching over your shoulder. No one is grading you on how well you understand the content. No one is timing your reading (or listening) pace.
Books are here to serve you if you will let them. I want to challenge you to approach books the way they were meant to be – with grace, open mindedness, and curiosity.
Okay, so I’ve let you in on my best tips for reading more books without being stuck in a chair reading all day. Now it’s time to dive in for yourself!