If you’re anything like me, it can be a struggle to find the time to read. Everything else seems to take priority—my job, the kids, doomscrolling on my phone. The past 18 months has been a challenging time, full of unpleasant distractions. We all know that reading is a very important, worthwhile activity. It inspires us, opens our minds and enriches our lives. We push our kids to read. So, as adults, why don’t we do more of it? Why can’t we find the time to just sit and read?
The answers will vary for everyone, but I’d like to share some techniques I use to get myself reading more. Feel free to share your own personal techniques in the comments below!
1. Set Small Goals
When it comes to any worthwhile activity, goal setting definitely helps keep you motivated. Keep those reading goals short and sweet. Set a realistic, doable challenge for yourself. Maybe that’s 30 books a year. Maybe it’s 3. You could set a goal to read one more book this year than you did last year. Take it easy on yourself and don’t set the bar too high. Keep track of your reading goals with the HCPL Summer Reading Program, or another tool like Goodreads.
Speaking of small goals, why not set a goal to read a minimum number of pages per day? For some of us, 50 pages a day is an achievable goal and for others, it’s considerably less than that. Figure out how many pages of reading you can squeeze into your daily schedule. If you’re really enjoying the book, you may just bust right through that goal! And if the book is not so great, it might be a struggle, which leads me to my next tip:
2. Learn to Let Go
Life is short. It’s much too short to read a bad book. A bad book is any book just doesn’t grab you, doesn’t excite you, doesn’t motivate you to keep turning pages. Strike the word “should” from your vocabulary when it comes to reading. Unless you’re a student or professional who must read certain books for work, you are free to read, or not read, whatever you like! Trying to slog your way through a book that doesn’t excite you may slow down your overall reading momentum. If that book’s not grabbing you, let it go, add it to your DNF (did not finish) list and move on. Next!
3. Remember Pavlov
Pavlov famously discovered that pairing a neutral stimulus (reading a book) with a positive stimulus (a cozy reading nook, a cup of tea) is called classical conditioning. If you struggle to get yourself in the reading mood, pair up your reading time with your personal positive stimuli. This could be a cozy microenvironment like a comfortable reading nook or o
utdoor hammock, a nice cup of tea or glass of wine, a bit of aromatherapy, or anything else you can imagine. You might also try carving out a time to read at the same time each day, such as before bed, which further ingrains the reading habit by conditioning your brain to expect a reading activity at the same time every day. Get some inspiration with our Pinterest collection of cozy reading nooks!
4. Just Listen
If you can’t find the time to sit and read a physical book during the day, try listening to an audiobook while doing mundane tasks like cooking or doing housework. Covid restrictions are easing and many of us are returning to our daily work commute. Listening to audiobooks during a driving commute is a great way to get your reading time in during the week.
5. Join a Book Club
Joining a book club is a great way to keep the reading habit alive. The Harris County Public Library sponsors many different kinds of book clubs. The CyFair Library's Back in Time Book Club focuses on historical fiction, for example. We also have book clubs for YA literature lovers (YA for Adults Book Club), a mystery book club, and a book club that focuses on international themes or authors. Check the events calendar of your nearest HCPL branch for their book club offerings. Most book clubs currently meet virtually.
Joining a book club is a great way to stay on track with reading and to ease back into socializing after the pandemic ends. It's a great way to meet like-minded people the group accountability can motivate you to stay on track.
For some added inspiration, check out our monthly book blog, The Falcon's Bookshelf and learn about what our college faculty are reading.
What are some methods you use to keep the reading habit alive? Do you "rage read" books you dislike until the end or do you have a growing DNF (did not finish) pile? Tell us in the comments! Happy reading!
This blog was written by Bronwyn S. and originally appeared in May 2021.