I have always been a reader, but for many years, I fell out of the habit. Life got busy during my late teen years, and graduating didn't bring the freed-up schedule I had hoped it would. I was suffering under the tyranny of the urgent, and I knew it. I couldn't seem to prioritize reading like I wanted to... but I still didn't know what to do about it.
Here are a few tips that helped me get back on the reading band-wagon.... and stay on. I've now been reading consistently for several years, actually increasing in the number of books I'm reading each year as my interest (and bookshelves!) are growing.
The other thing I really like about goodreads (and probably the most motivating force in my reading) is their "reading challenge". You set a goal of any number of books you would like to read during the year, and then each book you read is automatically added to that. It gives me an easily accessible measurement of my progress. The first year I did it, I read 36 of my 35 book goal. This year, I challenged myself to read 75 books, and so far, I've stayed on track! Since you're only competing against your own goal, (and you can change your goal at any time) it's a great way to motivate yourself to keep going when the going gets tough.
2. When you get busy, behind, or just don't feel like reading, listen to an audiobook. There are so many times when I was so far behind on my reading that I would have given up. Especially with this year's goal of 75 books (meaning almost 1.5 books per week). Listening is something I can do even at the busiest times in my life, even if it's just in the morning when I'm brushing my teeth. It helps both my graph and my optimism to stay on track.
3. Have a time of day that you set aside for reading. For me, that's right before bed. It's a cozy time of day when all my duties are done, and I can afford to cut 15 minutes out of my sleep. For me, developing that discipline has been a great way for me to relax before sleeping, and helps me to carve out the time from my busy schedule.
4. Make specific goals and a plan for reaching them. I chose specific goals of what books I wanted to read (which was flexible, but at least gave me a plan to start with), and a number of books to read (75). I then made a plan for reaching my goal, by figuring out how many pages I had to read each day to stay on track, which came to about 25 pages per day. I also timed how long it took me to read 25 pages, which was about 25 minutes. By the end of my calculations, I had a very solid measurement- I had to be getting in about 30 minutes of reading (or listening) a day if I was going to make my goal.
I hope these ideas have been helpful for you in thinking about how you can get back to reading if perhaps you've fallen from the habit. If you have ideas to share about how you keep up on your reading, please share them in a comment below!
"The books are waiting. Of this you may be confident: they'll be ready when the whim strikes you."
-Alan Jacobs, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction
Rachel Kirkpatrick lives in Hampton, VA where she is a happy girlfriend to Joe Tenney and an active member of Hampton Roads Fellowship church. She is enjoying exploring the East coast and learning what it means to live the gospel in every-day life.