Now, before you reach through your screen and slap me... gear down, Big Shifter- I realize that obviously since I stay home with Alice and don't have a "job" (even though teaching was a lot easier than having a newborn! =) I have more free time than most moms. And everyone has different interests/hobbies... if you'd rather watch tv than read, I get it! It usually involves way less concentration (and I definitely have Netflix days where I don't crack a book open.)
That being said, I have been asked a time or two how I manage to read so many books. The short answer is that I quit my job and have stayed home the vast majority of the time for the past year and a half. (Totally doable, right??) Since that's not a viable option, here are a few tips that everyone can apply no matter how busy their schedules.
If you really want to fly through some books, choose ones that only have a couple of words per page. You'll feels so accomplished! =)
-Find what works for you. It's easier for me to read on my phone while I'm feeding Alice but I have a really hard time following nonfiction when I'm on the Kindle app, so if there's a nonfiction book I want to read I usually get a physical copy. If I'm trying (and failing) to follow a more complicated book, I'll be more likely to give up (or get distracted by Facebook/Instagram/YouTube/whatever.)
-Read what you like. I really love fiction and sometimes just need a simple plot to unwind, but I read a lot of nonfiction even though it doesn't always hold my attention the same way. But just because something is a "must-read" on lots of lists (even the New York Times!) doesn't mean you have to like it. For me, that means anything scary, graphic, or with a lot of language. (I'm a fairly sensitive person and graphic imagery of any kind really messes with my head.) On a podcast I listened to recently, a lady said she worries that her book choices won't seem "smart enough" to her friends. Who cares? Most of my favorite books are children's literature. I don't feel less than "intellectual" because I'd rather read Nancy Drew than Stephen King, you know? If a stack of Beverly Cleary sounds more appealing to you than the latest adult fiction, go for it. (Those Ramona books are probably more well-written anyway.) The point here is that reading something you enjoy makes it more of a priority because you will want to find out what happens! =)
-Abandon a book if you hate it. Like I said in the last point, you don't have to like a book just because someone else does, so if you're reading a book and it's just not holding your attention or you hate the plot or you want to strangle the main character (Scarlett O'Hara, anyone?!) give it up without guilt. Life is too short to sludge through lame or boring books when there are so many out there to be read and loved! I always feel a little bad about quitting a book (or returning it to the library without even getting to it!) but sometimes, like I said, I would rather spend my time on books I like than committing to something I'm not even enjoying. There are enough things we HAVE to spend time on that aren't enjoyable... why waste our precious reading time on drivel? (I'm aware that drivel is totally subjective and what may be awesome to me is total garbage to you. That's what makes it fun. =)
-Make it convenient. I can (and sometimes do) talk everyone's ears off about Gretchen Rubin's advice and research regarding our habits. (Check out her podcast, "Happier" or her website for more information.) One of her best tips for any habit, not just reading, is "make it easy to do right and hard to go wrong." Want to read/exercise/eat healthy/stay organized? Make it easy/convenient! Right or wrong, the fact is we are all influenced enormously by how convenient something is, so if you want to read more, make it easy to do so!
Downloads books on your kindle app if that works for you, carry a book in your bag for those inevitable down times like the car line at school, waiting rooms, etc., and utilize your library. It was a happy day when I started taking advantage of my library's hold system. I can search the database online, request the books I want, and then pick them up when they're ready. This also makes Jonathan happy because he knows that my usual "let me run into the library" time ends up taking much longer... I tend to get distracted. =) And nearly every library now uses an online checkout system called Overdrive that allows you to borrow books through the Kindle app too. So really, you don't even have to leave your house (or spend any money) to get new books to read! No excuses! =)
Another option, especially for those who love to multitask, is to download audiobooks (also available through your library's online database.) Pop in those earbuds and "read" away while you fold laundry, make your commute, or even exercise. (Bleh! Maybe that will make the gym more fun.) I admit, I have a hard time with audiobooks (maybe because I have a baby to distract me at any and all moments of the day) but most people agree that it's kind of a skill to be developed.
-Take what you can get. I know that our ideal reading scenario is curled up on the couch with a book and a cup of coffee, with no noise or distractions to pull us away from the story. But with kids, work, errands, and a multitude of other things, your reading time may not be that picture-perfect. And even though reading is an important thing, it's obviously not THE most important thing. My reading has dropped off a little since Alice was born because there are definitely moments when holding her is a priority (like this week- my poor sickie!) and I have to set my books aside. That's a no-brainer! But I'd rather catch a few pages at a time than just throw up my hands and say, "Well, I have a baby! Reading time's over till kindergarten!" We all have our priorities and reading happens to be one of mine (along with Diagnosis Murder marathons and keeping You've Got Mail on repeat. =)
So, if you're looking to finally finish that book (or stack of books) that's been on your nightstand for months, maybe this will help. For stellar recommendations, check out Everyday Reading (my go-to for years now!) and Modern Mrs. Darcy- Janssen and Anne both have awesome book lists all the time and lots more reading information. (In fact, Anne just started a podcast called "What Should I Read Next?". Perfect!) And I have a book list or two here if you care to poke around. =)
As always, happy reading!