Life is hard for us busy bitches. Our time goes into our careers, our schooling or both, and trying to stay on top of everything else (and don’t even get me started on trying to maintain a social life along with all the other responsibilities). Since we’re often so busy, sometimes that pile of books on our To Be Read Shelf gets, well, a little dusty. It’s piled high with books that magazines say are “soon to be the next best thing,” books that your BFF says are to die for (and since she writes her own book review column, her word is law), and books you bought that inspired a movie. . .which is now out on DVD. Most of the time, when the day is done, Netflix and Chill is a lot easier than grabbing a book off that pile and sitting down to read.
If this sounds like you and you’ve really been wanting to get back into reading more often, or if your book pile is threatening to fall over and kill you at any moment, I have a few tips for you that could help spring you back into the reading game.
First, let’s talk about motivation: Reading for the fun of it should be the main motivation here, but let’s be honest; it never ends up that way. So you might want to come up with some outside motivators to get you started and to get your nose in a book. I have a few ideas that could really help and yes, some sound like they’re more work than you might want, but trust me, they can be fun little projects that make reading an adventure again.
Start a blog
A blog doesn’t have to be super professional or massively popular. You can tell everyone you know about your blog, or maybe just tell your mom and best friend. It can be made on WordPress or even be as simple as a separate Tumblr account. There is a blogging platform out there that suits everyone; you just have to find the one for you.
This blog can become a space in which you can post some nice photos and a small (or big!) review of books you’ve completed. I like doing this once and a while because it gives me a chance to be creative and usually, I feel the most inspired after I’ve finished reading someone else’s product of creativity. You may even connect with others who have read the same book and came across your review, which can keep the conversation going long after the book has ended.
Start a book Instagram or Twitter account
I prefer this platform most, just because it is really simple. If you’re intimidated by starting a whole blog, or are afraid you won’t have much to write about after reading a book, this is for you. The idea is pretty simple – you can post a photo and a few words about every book you’ve completed. I started my book Instagram because I wanted to simultaneously inspire myself to read more and keep track of how many books I can read in a year. I think this really holds you accountable and motivates you to read more books. Now when I start a new book I think, “I can’t wait to take a photo of this and post it on my account,” which in turn makes me want to sit down and read so I can do so.
Join a book club
There are so many online book clubs out there, or even IRL ones at your local library (believe me, I work at one!). The podcast #Millennial has a book club on goodreads; some of their past books are Ready Player One and The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America. The podcast itself is a political podcast (one I highly recommend) and I feel like the books they read follow suit. There are book clubs for every genre, or even book clubs that don’t stick to just one.
The benefits of a book club sort of harken back to school. Sometimes I didn’t do something unless there was a deadline attached. I have to read three chapters by tomorrow? Okay, better get started then. Book clubs act the same way. Plus, they create a place where you can talk about the book you’re reading with others who are reading it at the same time. That creates a community that in turn can hold you responsible for getting shit done!
If you already have a blog, or a Tumblr, Twitter or Instagram and don’t want to necessarily make a new one, just make a tag for yourself when you finish a book. For your blog or Tumblr, write that book review and create a new part of your blog that you can look back on to see what you’ve read in the last several months. For Insta and Twitter, make yourself a personal hashtag that you can click on to sort through your past books. It becomes really satisfying when you can look back and say “not too shabby” on the amount of books you’ve read.
“Summer” reading programs
A lot of libraries aren’t just hosting summer reading programs for kids, but for adults too. The library I worked at created a summer reading bingo sheet last year, just for adults. It looked like a bingo sheet, but the squares were made up of different kinds of books like, “A Western,” or “A Book Published in the Last Ten Years.” It really helped me step out of my reading comfort zone and read other kind of books I’m not used to. This doesn’t have to just be for summer – you can google for summer reading programs and decide to tackle the books throughout the whole year.
And finally, sometimes the simplest thing to do is set a “mental milestone.” The only think you have to be sure of is to make this goal achievable. Don’t tell yourself that you’re going to read ten books a month, because when at the end of the first month you haven’t reached that goal, you’re going to feel awful. Instead tell yourself you’ll read a book a month, then up it to two, and maybe three as you grow more comfortable with the commitment.
Motivators can be a good way to keep track of your reading, but sometimes, you need to nail down some practical reading habits. Those include:
- Set aside a certain amount of time every day to read. Make this a habit. Even fifteen minutes on your lunch break will make a difference. Maybe you decide that means waking up thirty minutes earlier in the morning or turning off Netflix thirty minutes earlier in the evening to get your reading done. This makes a world of difference.
- If you don’t like setting aside the time, think about it in pages. Tell yourself you’ll read 20 pages a day and stick to it.
- Hold yourself responsible. Being out of school for us “grown up” bitches means we sometimes lack the structure we had grown so used to. It might sound childish, but if you need something like a reading log to keep you motivated, do it. No shame. It can be a single piece of paper that you make a note on every time you read or maybe a journal you already write in every day. If you want to write future blog posts, the journal can be beneficial in writing down your thoughts as you read.
To sum this all up: reading doesn’t have to be a chore. If you’re reading this article, odds are that you love to read, you’ve just lost the free time you had in the past to do it as often. Once you get back into practice, which may cause some grumbling and annoyance, you’ll remember how much fun it is and it won’t be so difficult anymore. Tell yourself that your reading time is yours. It’s a quiet activity that can pull you away from your stressful workplace or life and that can be so precious. I hope some of these suggestions help a bitch out. Happy reading!
Rose Barnett is an aspiring writer, currently working at a public library as a library clerk. She likes to bake, much to her waist line’s dismay, and can usually be found watching either Netflix or YouTube. She enjoys a nice refreshing mojito, or if alcohol isn’t involved, sweet tea.