This year, I have a goal: read 50 books.
I also have the same ongoing goal every other bibliophile resets every time she adds a new book to her bookshelf: read all the unread books on my bookshelves.
Yes. Multiple shelves. Don’t judge me.
Reading is a writer’s greatest sidekick. Making time for reading isn’t as easy as it used to be, though.
Once you’re obligated to all the adult-y things like work and school and friends and loved ones, it’s hard enough to find time to cook food and exercise and pet your cat. How are you supposed to find time to read books?
Reading is essential. It keeps your mind sharp. It gives you things to talk about with people you otherwise have absolutely nothing in common with.
Here’s how to fit reading into your busy grown-up schedule (or, if you’re not an adult and still need help, these tips can work for you too).
Read what you want to read, not what you think you should read
I have a lot of classics that have been gathering dust on my shelves since college. Les Miserables. Inferno. The second Lord of the Rings book.
It isn’t that I don’t want to read them, and eventually, I plan to. At the moment, though, I just don’t have time to read something that requires as much energy and brain power as these books do.
That doesn’t mean I can’t read anything. I’m reading Dan Brown and a lot of Star Wars. Books I could probably go my whole life without reading. But I want to read them. I don’t always have a lot of energy at the end of the day. I need something that doesn’t strain my thought muscles so much. I’ll get to the classics when I’m done with grad school (so I tell myself).
Note: reading books for school does not apply. Read those. All the way through. Always.
Read when you first wake up and before you fall asleep
There is no better way to wake up, or fall asleep, than a book. Not only is it a bad idea to start and end your day with bright LED screens (admit it – you check your messages the second your alarm goes off, don’t you?), but once you dive into all your technology and real-time messaging, it just gets harder to convince yourself to escape into a book for 20 minutes.
When you resolve to start and end your day with reading, you’re pretty much guaranteeing that you’re going to dedicate at least 10-30 minutes per day just for reading. Get some coffee, read one or two chapters and then move on to the rest of your responsibilities. When you’re done with everything tonight but aren’t quite ready to close your eyes yet, reach for your book instead of your phone.
Create a list of books you want to read and work through them one at a time
This one is hard for those who want to read everything that has ever been published (read: me). The key is to narrow that down to a set list and, one at a time, pick which one you want to work though and focus only on that one book.
This solves two problems: spending way too much time deciding which book to pull from your shelf next (the struggle is too real) and giving into temptation whenever another book lands in your lap. I live by this rule: never start a new book until you’ve finished the one you started reading first.
It IS possible to make time for reading. Maybe 50 books is a bit of a stretch for one year, but once I graduate, that number is only going to go up in 2017.
I can’t wait. #priorities
Image courtesy of Mo Riza/flickr.com.