December 30, 2014

Book Resolutions: Ten Tips to Help You Read More Often (Even if You Have Little Kids!)

I mentioned in my 2014 round-up post that I read 122 books this year. I know people who read a lot more than I do (my friend Katie has read 249 books!), but people are generally amazed that I manage to read so much, even with a 4.5 year old and 14 month old underfoot.

My goals for 2015 are going to be similar to my goals in 2014: 

  • 104 books (two per week).
  • reading fewer than 52 books set in England (because my Anglophilia is out of control)
  • reading at least 26 books by authors I haven't read before.

You're maybe thinking "She's CRAZY. There's no way I could read that much!" And that's fine. I know I'm a huge booknerd, and a lot of people aren't. But could I get you to set a book goal of your own anyway? It doesn't have to be 104 books. It could be 52. Or 20. Or 5. But if you set a goal, you're way more likely to make it happen! (I like to set a goal on Goodreads.) 

And I think that a reading goal is a great idea for anyone, because I'm a firm believer that reading is good for everyone. It often makes you smarter, it transports you to new places, and it's so much quieter and more peaceful than watching tv!

If you're stumped on how to find the time to read more, especially if you have small children, check out these ten tips to help you read more often!

  1. Be willing to be interrupted. There's no way I'm going to get to sit and read for an hour. But if I'm willing to keep picking up and setting down my book, I can get 10 minutes here, and 15 minutes there, and by the end of the day I can have read as much as 2 hours some days.
  2. Audiobooks. I can’t reiterate enough how much I love audiobooks. If you have a long work commute, there’s an obvious place to get a lot of reading done. Or I listen to books on my phone (with headphones) while cleaning and cooking during Juliet's nap. If you don’t have napping kids, throw an audiobook on the stereo while doing a puzzle, or knitting.
  3. Read while nursing. I read a lot on my phone while nursing Juliet. She gets distracted by turning pages in an actual book, but the phone is less distracting. And since I still nurse her several times a day, this time can add up!
  4. Have multiple books going. I read the most slowly when I’m only reading one book. Because sometimes I want something light, and sometimes I want to learn history, and it helps to have a book to fit my mood when I get a minute to read. So I have a book in the living room. And I have a book in the bedroom, in case I end up getting a few minutes to read there. And I have an audiobook going on my phone, so that if miraculously both girls are occupied, or if Noel is watching them, I can listen to a few minutes while I do the dishes or go for a walk.
  5. Read fun books. I'm not reading any parenting or theology or heavy historical books. I'm going for fun mysteries, quick-reading young adult stuff, and light nonfiction. I don't have the brain power or attention span to really focus right now, and that's fine. I can get back to more serious things later, as long as I keep myself in the habit of reading!
  6. Read more. I know this sounds counterintuitive – but the more you read, the faster you read. Reading more will help you read more. 
  7. Read next to bigger kids. If Juliet is napping, Eleanor and I will sit next to each other on the couch and read. She'll work through a stack of easy readers, and I'll read my own book. Every 10 minutes or so I'll put my book down, and read her a picture book. Then she's usually happy to go back to reading herself, and I can go back to my book.
  8. Look for small reading moments. Read for 5 minutes while the kids are in the bathtub. Pull out your phone and instead of checking Facebook, read for 8 minutes while you're waiting in the school pick-up line. Keep a book on your nightstand, and always read one chapter before bed.
  9. Be willing to give up other habits. I used to watch a lot more tv, and frequently play board games. I have less free time than I did pre-kids, and so I made a conscious choice to keep reading a lot, and do those other things less. 
  10. Make a book date. Before we had kids, Noel and I would often hit a bookstore in the evenings, and sit and read a little, or take books or magazines to a coffee shop with us. That doesn't work anymore, but quite often in the evenings I'll sit and read while he watches tv. Even though we're doing different things, if we sit close on the couch, it still feels pretty companionable!

Have you set 2015 book resolutions? 
Do you have more reading tips?