How on Earth do you Read so Much?!

by - 7/20/2018

You may remember my 100 books in 2017 post, in which I discussed spending all my time when Jack was a newborn (and basically just sat still in my arms) reading a book instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media. I was convinced after Jack stopped nursing and started getting more mobile I wouldn't have so much time to read anymore. And that was true for a little while. I had to adjust my schedule, a lot! At the beginning of this year I set a much less lofty goal -- to read 50 books. Yet, somehow... I've now read 76.... so obviously I have far surpassed my goal! I'm back to planning to reach 100 again this year. :) But the question is, HOW? Not too long ago I never would've believed this was possible.

Here are some tips and tricks I've picked up along the way!

1. Make it a priority.

Let me start this by saying I think I'm just in a HUGE reading phase. I know I only have one child so it may seem "easy", but even if you have 8 kids, don't let that stop you! I know a gal who has 4 kids, works from home, owns two businesses, and still averages 100 books a year! It's possible, people. I will say, I use a large majority of my spare time to read, and I don't have a lot of other hobbies. I've never been a huge hobby person to begin with, but I do play the piano, I just bought a DSLR camera and am learning how to use it, I write on this blog all the time lately (obvi) and I love running, but other than that I just read! I want to be crafty, but I'm just kind of not, so that one is slow in the making. Just trying to make the point that I do attempt to live a well-rounded life. ;)

That all being said, last year I just decided I was going to make reading a priority. It doesn't take precedence over spending time with friends, family, and most importantly -- my hubs, because I firmly believe that we all need human connection and I try to make time for as much of it as possible. But as I have a lot of time where I just have to be home by myself (naptime), it's pretty easy for me to just turn to a book. If I have a few spare moments, I open a book. If I'm on a run, I'll listen to an audiobook. At work, I'll plow through an entire audiobook in one 8-hour shift. Which brings me to my next point...

2. Audiobooks!

This has opened up a new world for me the past two years! Before last year, the ONLY audiobooks I had ever listened to were Harry Potter. I had them all on my iPod for YEARS and literally fell asleep every night listening to them from high school through college. I eventually broke that habit, but I've probably listened to them all the way through at least 10 times. Because Jim Dale was just such a magical (heh) narrator, I didn't think I would like other audiobooks, so I never tried. Until I heard about Audible. I got a free trial and tried it out and LOVED it. Now, I regularly listen to audiobooks, and if you speed them up to 1.25x or 1.5x (which is honestly the only way to go! Normal speed is sloooooow) then you really can finish a book in a few hours. I love to listen to books at work, while I'm cleaning my house, driving in the car, etc. Half of the books I've gotten through this year have been listened to! 

Audible is a great way to get audiobooks, but I also use the library app -- Libby -- to get audiobooks through my library. These are free, and have a few more speed options than Audible so in some ways I prefer it! Obviously one big con is that you have to get on wait lists, but I still get probably 3-5 audio books a month from the library.

3. Have a long TBR list.

Having a long list of books I want to read means that I'm never lacking ideas, and since documenting my TBRs, I have yet to reach a reading slump! Sometimes you're just not in the mood for a fantasy, or a YA, or a memoir, but I'm learning that there's a book for every mood! At least for me. So if I'm stumped on what to read next, I just scan over my list and I can ALWAYS find something that piques my interest. This also helps so you can read a bunch of books while you're waiting for that next hold to come up at the library, or the next book in your favorite series to come out.

The best way to keep track of this: Goodreads! I rediscovered this website a couple of years ago and it has totally changed my reading game! I used to have ridiculous amounts of notes on my phone full of book lists and I always lost track of them. Since using Goodreads I don't have to worry about that! I love getting on and seeing if my friends have read a book I'm interested in, and what they thought of it. It's not a failsafe that I'll always read perfect books, but that's kind of half the fun -- discovering what I do and don't like.

4. Get rid of distractions (especially that phone). 

I am NOT a person that can read in a loud room, or while the TV is on. Further, I'm learning that I can't read with my phone in my pocket, or even within reach. If it's near, I tend to pull it out between every chapter, or every time it lights up, and before I know it I've spent 30 minutes looking at stupid videos on Facebook. A few months ago, I deleted my Facebook app and I honestly haven't looked back. Most of my friends weren't posting on there anymore, and I was just spending aimless hours watching Tasty videos and literally doing NOTHING. I hated it, and hated the way I felt when I was done. So I've tried to limit my time on social media since then. As I've done this, it's pretty darn amazing how much time I suddenly have to read! Even sitting down for 30 minutes before bed each night can get you through a lot more than you'd think.

5. Stop reading a book you don't like.

This one has been difficult for me to do, because I'm a serial book finisher. It sometimes feels near impossible to put a book down that I'm just not loving, because of that whole FOMO thing. I'm convinced that if I don't slog through I'll be missing out on something amazing. But here's what's really happening: since I only typically read one book at a time, if my current read isn't grabbing me, I don't want to read it. But I also feel like I can't start another book until I finish the one I started. And then I find myself just not reading for weeks. But recently, I stopped reading a book I didn't like (The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver) and even though it was really difficult, once I finally decided I was done it was like a weight was off my shoulders and I went on to read 3 other books that week because I actually liked them. The trick is -- read stuff you actually want to read! When I read books I LOVE, I have a lot more time to read. :)

6. Read more. 

This may not seem like a tip, but stay with me here. While I have really been enjoying audiobooks lately, there's nothing I love more than holding a physical book in my hands. Over the last year and a half of reading, I've noticed my reading speed picking up quite a bit. I wouldn't call myself a speed reader, as I really do feel like I understood and paid attention to each book I've read recently. But the more I read, the faster I seem to get through books. It's just like any skill, the more you do it, the better you are at it!

I have a gazillion more tips, but I'll stop here for now so you can get to reading those books! :)

Happy Reading, and Happy Friday!

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