At the end of 2016 I sat down and did some goal planning. One of my goals is to read 100 books in 2017. I know what you’re thinking — I already read so much. How could I possibly read more, or even want to read more? Why would I want to read more?
Reading relaxes me.
It makes me a better writer.
It encourages my imagination.
It makes me feel deeply, and when you are sensitive that is a good outlet.
I usually set a goal each year with how many books I want to read and if I don’t make it, that’s okay. But it’s fun to have a goal. Usually by goal is between 75-85, but this year, even though I’m busy, I’m aiming to hit 100.
Whether you want to read 100 books, too, or you just want to read 1 (which I think is a totally awesome goal if that is a stretch for you!), here are some practical tips for making real progress toward your goal of reading more in 2017:
- Make time to read. We make time for the things that are important to us, period. Nothing drives me crazier than when someone tells me they don’t have time to read but then they start to talk about how they watched two seasons of some show on Netflix in a week. Don’t get me wrong: I love a good Netflix binge, too. After all, I am the girl who watched 5 seasons of Pretty Little Liars in a single month. But I also read 88 books that year. My encouragement is to set a daily reading goal. For you it might be one chapter, or five pages, or an hour, or during your breaks at work… Create a goal for yourself, making it attainable (if you read five minutes a week, it is not a good idea to decide to read for 120 minutes a day!), and building upon it as you go. For me, I try to read for at least an hour a day, and on days I know I won’t have tons of time, I try to read for all the spare minutes I’ve got. Even if I can only carve out a little bit of time here and there, reading is important, so I set aside time for it, every day if I can. Which leads me to my next tip…
- Read in your “fringe minutes.” I read a book called The Fringe Hours a few years ago and the author talks about how we have these little minutes here and there throughout our day that add up. If you have just 15 minutes to read every day, whether you’re in line at the post office or in a waiting room or taking a quick break at work, you would read for 5,475 minutes a year — that’s just over 91 hours! Even if you’re not a fast read, 91 hours will get you a couple of books.
- Read more than one book at once. This might not be for everyone, but it works for me. I rarely read more than one book at a time. My brain needs different plots and story lines. Unless a book is so engrossing that I finish it all at once, I typically read several books simultaneously. That might not work for everyone, but if it does, then do it! I often keep a book in my car, something on the kindle app for my phone and iPad for those “fringe minutes,” one at work, and one in my room. No matter where I go, there’s a book, and I don’t have to take it everywhere.
- Read a variety of genres. This goes with number three. When I’m reading four books at once, I like to make sure they’re different genres because it helps me keep everything separate in my brain. Right now, for instance, I’m reading four books: Illuminae, the first book in a trilogy (and I am looking forward to the next two!), Claudia and the Bad Joke (as I attempt to reread all of the Baby-sitter’s Club books), Humble Roots (I’m reading this with a friend and talking about one chapter every two weeks, so it’s slooow going), and I’m listening to Jack of Diamonds while I drive. All but Humble Roots are fiction, but they’re so different. Illuminae is a dystopian space opera, Claudia and the Bad Joke is definitely low-level YA, and Jack of Diamonds is contemporary fiction with a more adventurous, action-filled plot. If you want to try to read more than one book at a time, I would l suggest starting with one fiction and one non-fiction or poetry book or a play — things that are very different.
- Read books you like. I like reading because for the most part I can’t wait to pick up the books I’ve had to put down in in order to sleep or to work. I rarely read books I don’t like. I’m not a book quitter (it’s totally okay if you are!) so if I start a book and hate it I will finish it, but that rarely happens because I know what I like, which admittedly is a bit of everything. The more you read, the more you will be able to hone in on things that pique your interest.
- There is no shame in the audiobook game. I mentioned in number four that I’m listening to an audiobook. I love audiobooks! Sometimes, I need to hear a voice when I’m reading that isn’t the voice in my head. They also make it possible to “read” while I’m driving. My brain operates at 3.2 billion miles per hour, so I usually speed my books up to 1.5x or sometimes 2x. Again, you don’t have to do that! Just find a book on Audible that has good reviews for its narrator and jump in! I also listen to books on Audible while I’m cleaning and while I’m out for a walk. Again, those fringe minutes add up. As a bonus, I find myself getting so invested in the audibooks I listen to that I look for activities that will allow me a chance to listen, so I am more motivated to fold laundry, organize shelves, and wash dishes if I’ve got a good book.
- Keep track of what you read. I love to track my reading on Goodreads, but I also have a ridiculously detailed spreadsheet with formulas that I’ve been using since college. I think I’m on my 13th year of the spreadsheet tracking method. WHOA BABY. It is so fun to look back and see what I’ve read and how much I’ve read. I like to analyze trends (it’s easy for me to see why there were a few years where I “only” read 44 books — I like to call those years “grad school and working full time”!). It also helps me know what to recommend to friends. I’m not great these days at writing detailed reviews like I used to, but I do try to write down a few things that made me like or dislike a book so I can tell people if they ask me.
There are countless other ways to read more, but these are seven things I’m doing in 2017 to help me hit that hundred mark.
What are your reading goals for 2017? How will you meet those goals?