10 Tips To Help You Read More Books This Year

I’ve had some requests lately for a blog post about  how my husband and I  manage to read as many books as we do in the course of a year. Between the two of us, we read 69 books in 2017. Before you think that we have gobs of free time- I have a work from home job,  we homeschool, and we travel frequently to raise funds for church planting. So, I’m just a normal gal with a normal schedule. That said, we do work very hard to avoid the rat race that seems so popular in the States. We’ve never quite gotten used to the quicker pace of life  since we moved from Canada, and we’ve taken continuous, conscious effort to avoid an excessively busy life. If you are caught up in the rat race, you may need to make some more radical changes than the ones I list below. But whatever your pace of life is, you CAN read. You DO have time. Say this to yourself a few times a day if needed- haha. 🙂 But it’s true. You make time for what you value. With that in mind,  consider the following tips to help you read more this year:

1. Use 5-10 minute increments of time

When we started our sabbatical, my reading habits were sorely lacking. A combination of having toddlers, and dealing with ministry stress that was off the charts, had derailed my reading. So I basically had to re-train my mind to read. And I did so by using 5-10 minute increments of time throughout the day. When the kids went on their morning break from school, I grabbed my book and read a few pages. When they breaked for lunch, I used the last few minutes after eating to read. Whenever I had a few minutes, I grabbed my book. Imagine my surprise in discovering that I finished entire books just by grabbing those stray moments. We tend to think we need large time blocks (at least a half hour) before it’s worth sitting down with a book. Destroy that thought, and create new space for reading by using little moments. You’ll be surprised at how well you follow the content of the book, and how many books you are able to finish. It will revolutionize your reading.

2. Keep a book wherever you spend time

I keep my current book out where I can see it. And if we leave home to run errands, I put my book in my purse or tote bag. This tip kind of goes with the first one, because it’s all about being prepared to use those little minutes to read instead of being on your phone. In the waiting room, read. While in the car waiting for your husband to finish an errand, read. In the car line, read. Whenever you find yourself waiting, see it as an invitation to read.  Example: I sometimes read at the stove while I’m waiting for a pot to boil or for supper to cook.

3. Get off of your phone

Rather bluntly put, I suppose, but it’s true. Phone time steals good reading time, and usually the phone grabs those little, waiting moments. If you wonder just how much time your phone is stealing, try installing an app to keep track of it for a week or so. You might be shocked. Then delete the app, get off your phone, and read. You will be a happier and more well rounded person, I promise.

4. Keep your phone on silent

I keep my phone on silent 99.9 % of the time. Now, I will admit that this has caused some frustration when someone is trying to get ahold of me. This would be why some people wait days to get a reply from me, and others get one right away. If it comes through while I’m on my phone, it’s your lucky day- you get an instant reply. lol But, as a rule I  prefer not to have a phone dictating my use of time with beeps and bumps and vibrations. By keeping your phone on silent, you can read in the other room (or even in the same room) without your brain being dragged away by a signal from your phone that 9 times out of 10 is NOT an emergency. There is science behind what happens in your brain when you hear an alarm or signal of any kind- there are even books written on the subject. So, make it easy for your brain to focus on your reading material by silencing the sounds.

5. Disable notifications on your phone

I have all of my notifications disabled on my phone except for email- because I use it for work.  This way, when I use my phone, I don’t have to deal with all kinds of red bubbles and numbers vying for my attention. How does this help you read, you ask? Fewer red bubbles means less time dealing with what’s behind the red bubbles. It means more reading time. It means that I get to decide when I deal with the communication happening on social media, instead of my phone deciding for me.

6. Read a devotional book along with your Bible study time

I read double the books in the span of a year because I’m always reading two at once. Now, before you dismiss this idea, let me explain. I have a stack of books chosen this year for my devotional/Bible study time. It’s a completely different stack from my other chosen books for the year. I read one chapter each morning along with my Bible study- sometimes the book chooses what part of the Bible I’m studying at the moment. For example, right now I’m going steadily through the book Adorned by Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth. These chapters are longer so I am only reading half chapter these days, but with most books it’s doable to read one chapter a day. I study the Bible along with it (in this case, I’m studying the book of Titus), and I journal and use my prayer notebook as well. So I have a “morning book” which is my devotional book. And during any other part of the day I read my other book – whatever I’m currently reading. It’s a great way to double the number of books you finish, yet it’s paced well by reading one chapter a day until the book is finished. Then start another, etc. I love setting aside certain books to read in this way- I look forward to my time in the Word each morning, and I learn so much day by day!

7. Read instead of watching TV or movies

We don’t have cable, so perhaps this tip is easier for us to live by. We do enjoy watching movies (mostly in the winter when it gets dark early,) but given the choice, I will always choose to read. My husband and I are hopeless bookworms, I suppose. BUT I know from observing friends that it’s easy to get caught up in binge watching TV series, watching the news, or having a movie marathon whenever the brain feels tired. I realize that this habit may be hard to give up, but give it a try. Set a goal for yourself, or keep track of how many hours you are spending watching TV, and cut back to make room for your books.

8. Set a daily reading goal

If you want to read a lot, you have to make it a priority. Priorities go on the “To-Do” list most days, yes? You may want to physically write down your reading goal on paper or in your planner- like “Read 30 minutes.” But, if writing it on a “To-Do” list feels too mechanical or too much like a chore, then just train yourself to mentally prioritize it. This is what I do now- reading is part of my day, no questions asked. I may need to look ahead some mornings and decide when to read, if the day is going to be particularly busy. But if it’s a normal day, I know I’ll be reading in the evening after supper (along with grabbing any of those small increments throughout the day.)

9. Believe in the value of reading

Every so often I come across a person who boldly says, “I don’t read.”  People {especially leaders} who don’t read {and who have an attitude about it} do both themselves and everyone around them a huge disservice. Parents quip “Readers are Leaders” when they are trying to motivate their kids to learn to read. They cheer and dance when their kids read their first book. And then at some point the reading motivation stops, and they replace the books with an iPad. Many of those same parents aren’t reading themselves. Their kids never see them with their nose in a book. Reading isn’t just for the school years- it’s for LIFE! Reading sharpens us, keeps our brains thriving and using their God-given elasticity, and lifts us up and out of our own swirling thoughts. We NEED to read the Bible FIRST and MOST, and after that we need to be learning and growing and expanding our minds. I’m sure we all know people who have never cracked a book in their lives after their school years. It shows, doesn’t it? You end up feeling sorry for them for how self focused they’ve become as a result of not ever getting a perspective outside of their own thoughts. Don’t be that person. Believe in the value of reading. That belief will feed your motivation.

10. Remember that everyone’s reading capacity is different

Some people look at myself and my husband and say that they wish they could read as much as we do. But the truth is- there are many people who read MUCH more than we do. We read as much as we can, and in different seasons of the year and seasons of life, that will likely ebb and flow. I read more in the winter than I do in the summer, mainly because we are outside more when the days are longer and the weather is warm. I still maintain my reading disciplines as it regards my phone, etc. but I don’t get through quite as many books in the middle of the year. It’s ok. Find what works for you, and do that. Listen to audiobooks! Many people have learning disabilities and reading difficulties- they aren’t inferior because they can’t read the volumes that someone else might read. They have to find and do what works for them. The point is that- no matter what the variables-  we READ.

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Well, there you have my best tips. What are yours? What helps you read? How do you eliminate distractions?

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About Leah {Embracing Grace}

Leah Highfill accepted Christ as her Saviour and became a child of God at the age of 18. Originally from the USA, she and her husband moved to the mission field of Canada in 2005, where she served in full time ministry as a pastor's wife for 10 years. During their tenure there, they became dual citizens. Leah and her family recently returned to NC and are currently enjoying a much needed sabbatical for the year of 2015. She homeschools her children {Small Son is 9 and Tiny Daughter is 7} and teaches private piano lessons on the side. She can be found reading, writing/blogging, playing the piano and violin, or ice skating. A friend to ministry wives everywhere, Leah has a passion to inspire hope and to encourage women in their walk with God. Her first book, Expecting Grace, was published in 2013. Expecting Grace is the story of Leah's experience and survival of a life threatening pregnancy, and of many medical and financial miracles along the way. Her second book is currently in process. Join her grace-filled journey right here at Embracing Grace!

3 thoughts on “10 Tips To Help You Read More Books This Year

  1. I enjoyed reading through the list of tips to read more books. I have a 12 year old granddaughter who read 104 books in 2017. She challenged me to see who could read the most books / pages in 2018. Obviously the level of books I read are more in-depth so in order to keep up, I’m finding myself reading more Nancy Drew! But we are having fun with it. So far in 2018, Hannah is on book 13; Grandma is reading book 11, and unfinished book 9 which I read with my devotions.

    The other reading activity I engage in, is reading to a stroke victim every week. I spend Wednesday afternoons reading to him and last year we completed 5 books.

  2. I would add, try “reading” audiobooks. That’s how I do the majority of my reading. Many larger libraries have a program called Hoopla, which lets you borrow digital audiobooks for free each month. Check if your library is part of that program or a similar one.

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