Late December is the time that people start thinking of their resolutions or their goals for the next year, and among the usual suspects of “lose weight” and “eat better” is the ever-present “read more.” But how do you do that? It’s fine to say, to want it, but how do you actually go about reading more than a book or two a year? I’m here to help you.
I finished university in April of 2014. I spent four years in courses pertaining to my degree — English Literature. That means that I was either writing essays or reading books. In third year I had five English courses and had to read a book a week for each of them. It was simultaneously awesome and exhausting. When I graduated I was so excited to finally be able to choose what books I got to read instead of being chained to a book list. The thing is, after I graduated I was tired. I would start books and put them down before I finished the first chapter. My mind was so tired from reading so many books throughout university that I couldn’t find the energy to participate in my favourite hobby.
I read one book between April 2014 and January 2016. So I get the disappointment you might feel when you want to read but don’t, or can’t. December of 2015 is when I finally felt the itch to read again. I received a lot of books and gift cards for Indigo for Christmas that year, and on January 1st, 2016 I picked up a book and finished it in one sitting. It was then that I decided to set myself a goal for the year: if I could read a book in one sitting again, I could totally read 50 in a year. It’s December 24th and I’ve read 51 books, which I think is awesome. (Edit: I read that 51st book on November 22nd… and nothing since. I NEEDED A BREAK, OKAY? And that’s okay! My brain is #ready2go once I get new books for Christmas!)
Anyway. Here’s how I did it.
Map out a schedule. This may sound tedious to begin with, but it’s really what will help you read those books. If you’ve set your goal at 30, that should be 2-3 books per month — that is super doable. Figure out how many books you need to read per month depending on your end goal, and stick to it. If, for whatever reason, you don’t hit your quota for a single month, that’s okay! You can catch up the next month and get back to your schedule. It can be daunting to fall behind on your schedule, but that’s fine — everyone does it. But this leads me to…
You have to commit. You have to. Nothing is going to get done if you’re not committed to your cause, in any aspect of your life. Reading is just the same. If you fall behind on your schedule by a book or five, don’t give up! What helped me commit was putting my reading challenge goal into Goodreads. Your friends can see what your goal is, how well you’re doing, and what you’ve read, and that really helped me stick to my challenge. You can find that here.
Make sure you use your free time wisely. Let’s say you have an hour commute in the mornings where you sit on the train and stare out the window, or scroll through your phone absentmindedly. What is that accomplishing? Sure, you’re relaxed and content by the time you get to work, but what if you read instead? Immerse yourself in your book for that hour, or even thirty minutes; you’ll get through so much of it without even realizing! Is your favourite show not on television one evening and you have no idea what to do? Read your book! Even if you can only get through a chapter or two, that’s better than not reading at all. The best time to read, besides always, in my opinion, is right before bed. Get yourself cozy in your pajamas, grab a cup of tea or hot chocolate, and settle in for a couple chapters. Once it’s a routine you’ll be flying through those books!
In the same vein, try to set yourself a page count. Whether by day or week, tell yourself “I’ll read 50 pages,” and stick to it! That’s how it’ll help you get through those three books each month.
Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Once you’re a few months into your reading challenge, you’ll find it easier to pick up your book. Schedules create habits, and the habits you pick up during this challenge will help you successfully complete it. Finishing the challenge of reading 30 books in a year is such an awesome feat, and you’ll be so proud of yourself for doing it. It’s such an great resolution; reading helps you get away from staring at a screen during your relaxation time, helps you be better informed in a lot of different areas, and it’ll help with your vocabulary! There are tons of benefits to reading, so why not start? It’s easy; all you have to do is pick up a book.
Here are some of my favourite books that I read this year:
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
- A House in the Sky: A Memoir by Amanda Lindhout
- Cormoran Strike Series by Robert Galbraith
- The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
- A Separate Peace by John Knowles
- The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
If you’d like to check out my Goodreads profile and see what I’ve read this year, what’s on my reading list, or add me as a friend, you can do that here.