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Use These Tips To Level Up Your Book-Reading Game

There’s nothing quite like opening a good book and getting transported to another place, period, or frame of thought. In the blink of an eye, you are a part of a character’s life, an author’s world. Another great aspect about reading books is that not only does it serve as a source of entertainment and education, it also boosts your brain and emotional health. Research shows that “regular reading can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve sleep quality.”


But if I’m honest, getting lost in a reading session was much easier as a child. I had no full-time job, no child to run after, or other major responsibilities, so of course, finishing a book in one sitting was an easy task. And with reading programs like Pizza Hut BOOK IT! (I know I'm aging myself with this one), I was rewarded for doing an activity I already loved!

As I got older, I'd go through periods of reading for enjoyment, but somewhere along the way, reading became harder for me to prioritize. I had the desire to read more books, but couldn’t figure out how to get it done. Does this sound familiar to you? If so, follow along as I share my tips on how to read more books this year!

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​Read More of What You Enjoy

Life is too short to read books you don't love! I used to carry the misguided mindset that my taste in books should "mature" as I age. I'd force myself to primarily read non-fiction or self-help books because that's what I thought I should be reading. But, no, that’s just not me. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy those genres, but I’ve loved women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, and YA for decades and won’t stop any time soon.

Whether you're into science-fiction, faith and spirituality, memoirs, romance, thrillers, comic books, or non-fiction, the goal is to love whatever you're reading.

​Choose a Mode of Reading

Physical Books

I derive a lot of comfort from holding a book in my hands and turning page after page. And don't get me started on the smell of the printed paper! If you nerd out over printed books like me, build your personal library with titles you adore! But before you visit a major bookseller, consider buying from your local independent bookstore. Websites like Bookshop.org give you access to local stores in your area that can benefit from your support.

If you’d rather not own a bunch of books, get a library card. Not only will you save money, but you’ll support your local library and, by extension, your community.

Audiobooks

As a working mother, it’s hard for me to sit still long enough to open a physical book, so I’ve had to default to audiobooks—and you know what? —I love them! You can easily listen to a book in your car, as you work out, cook, or wait for your girlfriends to show up for brunch. Platforms like Libby and Boundless link with your library card to give you access to thousands of books. If you prefer to read words on a screen, then I suggest electronic or e-books that you can read on your phone or a Kindle device.

​Set a Reading Goal, Then Read Whenever You Can

You'll read more if you have an attainable goal broken down into pieces. For instance, if you plan to read a book in one week, divide the total number of pages by seven for a daily goal. Divide by however many days of the month there are for a monthly goal, and so on.

Reading first thing in the morning may work for some, but isn’t feasible for others. Instead, note the time of day you have the most availability. It helps to know when you have the most energy to read and what setting you're most comfortable in, too. Ultimately, if you want to read more books, you've got to spend more time reading.

Start a reading session while you wait at the DMV, during commercial breaks, or on your bus or train commute. Not everyone has time to dig into a book for hours, however, every bit matters– even if it's for five minutes at a time.

​Read With Others

Reading with a friend or a group is a great way to hold yourself accountable to your reading goals and gush over what you love (or don’t love) about what you’re reading.

Book clubs are an easy way to find other book lovers. You can build your literary network of folks who enjoy the same books as you but also challenge you to step out of your comfort zone.

Through my virtual book club, I’ve read thrillers, historical fiction, and books with fantasy elements—all of which are genres I wouldn’t gravitate to on my own. By doing so, I ended up liking a few and exposed myself to different styles of writing.

What I love most about book clubs is that you can find or create one that meets your needs. Do you only want to read books written by African authors? There’s a club for that. Want to meet in person in your area or meet from the comfort of your home? Easy. Prefer to read a book of your choosing next to others who are doing the same thing, and then briefly recap what you’ve read? Silent book clubs exist for this very reason! Utilize social media and sites like Meetup.com to help get you started.

​Keep Track of Your Reading Progress

Finishing a book is an accomplishment worth celebrating and recording. You can jot the titles on your own or keep track by using a platform. Sites like StoryGraph (hello, Black-woman-owned business!) and Goodreads are an easy way to read and write reviews, set reading challenges, and find community. I promise you'll look back at the end of the month or year and feel so proud of the number of books you've finished when you keep track of what you’ve read.

Whether you’re a seasoned reader who’s itching to reach a new goal or you’re new to reading as a hobby, I hope these tips encourage you to read more this year. Don’t feel pressured to stick to only one genre or use only one method to read. It’s perfectly fine to adopt a hybrid approach to reading if that works well for you.

Take your time to figure out a setting and rhythm that inspires you to dive into a story. The goal is to create a reading practice that fits into your life– not add stress to it. Happy reading, friends!

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Featured image by miodrag ignjatovic/Getty Images

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