I made a big declaration at this start of 2019. I proclaimed this was going to be The Year of Books! I left 2018 feeling disenchanted with the online world and craved more time off screens. I also was craving the feeling of being totally immersed in a good book. This wasn’t a new goal. Every year I make a New Year’s Intentions list and reading more books is often on there, but the difference with this year is I actually made it happen.
How did I make it happen? I shifted my priorities. That’s the biggest thing. Like with any new goal you have to keep it front of mind and give yourself opportunities to achieve it. In year’s past, I would buy a new book and just hope that time would open up and I would become an avid reader. Then the reality of raising two small children and running a business would sink in and time would escape me.
Except had time really escaped me? I was sometimes spending over 6 hours on my cell phone (gasp!), and a huge chunk of it would be on social media. Sure, sometimes it’s for work, but mostly it was a bad habit. Easily twenty minutes would fly by and I would look up from my phone in a daze wondering how I even ended up there. Twenty minutes I could have taken a break to read.
“Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading.” – Lena Dunham
Also, finding the right books made a big difference for me. I get bored easily, but I also love non-fiction. The combination of these two qualities means I read a lot of non-fiction at one time, but hardly finish them. It was really wrecking havoc on my goal of actually finishing books. I started off the year really well and then felt stuck around April. I realized that I needed to add more fiction on my nightstand. Once I did that, I was able to simultaneously read my non-fiction books while quickly reading fiction.
Let’s break it down what worked for me into actionable steps:
Give Yourself A Challenge
For all you fellow achievers out there this can be a good way to give yourself a gold star! Setting a challenge to read a certain number of books in a year (a lot of people choose 30 books) is extremely motivating. However, if you’re like me, actually picking a number can be a turn-off. I wanted to focus on quality and not quantity. I worried that if I focused on the number I would start to feel the pressure. I wanted this to be fun, but I also wanted the gratification of ticking off a goal. So I took some elements from a challenge and made it my own. I started a note on my phone with all the books I’d read and all the ones I wanted to read and it gave me a fabulous feeling when I could add to my list and see what I’d accomplished. It took some of the pressure off, but still gave me all of the reward. Bottom line, you do you.
Read What Your Heart Desires
There are so many sites and magazines telling you about all the amazing books you should read this year. Heck, we even tell you at Glitter Guide. While it’s amazing to have reviews and suggestions, it sometimes means you forget to read what you actually want to read. You’re reading list should be a non-judgment zone. I mentioned I like to read non-fiction, but I also like cheesy love stories, young adult fiction, and children’s books. Allow yourself to fall back in love with reading by picking whatever floats your boat. Don’t stress that you haven’t ready anything that’s not a New York Times Bestseller.
Read All The Time
I’m not recommending you stay in your pajamas all day, skip out on work and just cozy up with your books for the entire day (although that does sound appealing). I mean, try to find pockets of time throughout the day for you to read. Have books in all areas of your home, not just the nightstand. For many people, reading before bed doesn’t work. Maybe try setting your morning alarm for 30 minutes earlier than normal to head into the kitchen with a coffee and your book. Keep your current book or kindle in your handbag. Personally, I don’t like reading on a Kindle because they hurt my eyes and I feel like I really need a break from screens, but I think it’s an amazing alternative. Keeping it with you gives you the chance to read a book while waiting in line or at an appointment instead of scrolling on your phone. I like to keep books in the bathroom (I know, TMI), but it’s a tried-and-true way to carve out a little time to read.
This was a big one for me. In order to stay focused I need to have limits. Just like I batch my emails and projects, I batch my reading. I can easily get swept into a book and not realize that two hours have flown by. I have to give myself a time limit. Usually it’s an hour at night before bed and 15-minute increments throughout the day. I also set limits on my phone. I try not look at my phone in the morning till after my kids go to school and not till after they go to bed at night. Often times, I won’t even pick up my phone at night anymore and just grab one of my books.
Audio Books Count
I believe that Audiobooks count towards your reading list. As do short-format books. My personal goal was to read more physical books, but I still listened to a lot and I’m not going to leave those out. If you know that listening to an audiobook will work better for you then do it. I absolutely love Audible and I listen to it every day. I get a giddy feeling every time I have a new credit available in my Audible account.
Join A Bookclub
This is another one I struggle with, but I know is totally fantastic. I’ve never joined one, only because if I have to read a book I end up not wanting to read a book. How did I ever get through school?! Although, after this year, I feel like I may be ready to make the leap. Joining a bookclub is a fun way to connect with other bookworms and discover new books. It’s also motivating and will hold you accountable. If you’re feeling shy you could join an online bookclub. There are so many great alternatives out there. Maybe Glitter Guide should start one?
Read Used Books
Ahhhh the smell of old books. Since I don’t enjoy reading on a Kindle, I end up with a lot of physical books — which can get overwhelming and fill your home with clutter. Plus, it gets expensive fast. I love going to my local library. Libraries are quickly becoming my favorite place to hang out (I know, I’m such a grandma). I can walk to mine, and I’m able to find new books to read and it costs me nothing. It’s amazing. My kids love it even more than me. I also live near a used bookstore. It’s pretty magical and I will cry my eyes out if they ever close down. If you have these options near you I highly recommend them.
I also wanted to recommend the website Girls at Library — It’s a wonderful online journal with literary interviews, recommendations and essays. It’s a great resource and comes from such a diverse group of amazing women. I also love following Books Are Magic for their recommendations.
Read my favorite books of 2019 on Glitter Guide
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Photos taken at one of my favorite bookstores in San Francisco: Black Bird Bookstore