I fall somewhere in the middle. The gray area between those who never read and those who can finish multiple books per week. There aren’t very many people I know who carry this middle ground mantle and boast I read 1 book this month! Because it seems to pale in comparison to all the avid readers who can finish double digits in books.
Who decided that reading was a competitive sport? Because the last time I checked reading was useful for so many things – education, entertainment, instruction, personal growth, devotion, etc. – and the reasons for reading even more numerous. So, why is it that I compare what I’m reading to what you’re reading?
I was in the I-don’t-read-much camp for a long time, especially after giving birth to my second child, and I wasn’t sure how to get out of that camp. It felt like I had to find a way to be catapulted into the other camp of avid readers in order to be a respectable reader.
Instead, I simply decided to trade competing with other readers for competing with myself. I set personal goals for how many books and what types I wanted to read each month, and I wrote about the whole journey on my first blog.
If you’re feeling stuck in the not-reading camp or if you’re with me in the gray area, then let me share a few tips that I’ve learned that help me read and finish more books.
Physical books. It isn’t failure to not finish a book. I had to learn this delicate balance from practice. Sometimes finishing a book is a matter of personal discipline – I just need to do it. And other times finishing a book just isn’t sensible. I’m committed to staying in the gray area on this issue – only finishing the books I feel are wholly beneficial and helpful on my journey to personal growth, and accepting that some books will be best useful to be as references. These books I posted to Instagram are examples of references. I pick and choose the passages I want to read, gain an overall view of the topic, and glean the information that is most interesting to me without feeling guilty for not reading the book cover to cover.
Try a Kindle sample. Book recommendations are everywhere, with new books being published every day. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when deciding what to read, what to borrow, and what to buy. Always start by reading the first few pages of the book before buying or borrowing. You’ll save both time and money.
If the book is one you want to finish (I personally prefer to read from a physical book) then I acquire the book by buying it digitally or borrowing it from the library. Since I already started the book and usually Kindle will allow you to read a full chapter (or 2), being able to flip past several physical pages helps me to majorly boost my momentum.
Starting with a Kindle sample helps me hugely by determining if a book is going to be worth my time before I’m committed to buying or borrowing it. It takes the compulsion out of wanting to jump on the band wagon with someone who is recommending their current favorite book. I know I can try it and see for myself before making any decisions. It also eliminates a huge amount of guilt for lack of finishing, because trying a digital sample doesn’t add clutter to my home either by purchasing or borrowing. I don’t have to make shelf space or return an unread stack of books to the library (again).
Try listening to an audiobook; it is still 100% a real book. Listening to a portion of or a whole unabridged book counts. When learning is the goal, then listening to a book is a great way to “read” more books.
***Side note on listening: learning to listen well is becoming a lost skill. I am deeply enjoying learning from Andrew Pudewa director for the Institute in Excellence in Writing and his views on teaching listening skills. Audiobooks are a wonderful and untapped powerful resource for equipping the next generation. Check out this old podcast from The Read Aloud Revival with Mr. Pudewa and listen to how explains the power of listening to books for kids of all ages. We need to empower children to read, listen, and think if we want to see change in the world around us.
There are some books that are just best as an audiobook. Like, Little House in the Big Woods. We read this out loud to our kids when they were much littler and it felt like punishment – both for us and them. The details of tools and procedures were so descriptive that we didn’t have any working knowledge of, and often we got lost in the language. But as an audiobook, it’s much better. And some people (kids and adults alike) learn best through listening. Consider incorporating audiobooks into your family culture as a regular thing. I, personally, like to listen to audiobooks and podcasts while working in the kitchen. It helps me feel like I’m not chained against my will to the sink.
Emily Freeman just wrote in her October post that she listens best to non-fiction because she loses the details in fiction and wants to rewind and review too much. But I listen best to fiction because I feel like I lose details of non-fiction. The point I’m trying to make by comparing listening preferences is to start trying different ways of engaging with books to see what works best for you. It’s important to find a method that does these 3 things – builds momentum to finish and to start again, encourages personal educational growth, and promotes ownership and confidence in the reading process.
It doesn’t matter if you read 10 books per year or 10,000 books per year, what matters is that you are reading. Keep trying, find what works for you, and build your family culture around books (thank Sarah McKenzie for that phrase and check out her amazing podcasts).
There are options for finding audio and digital books:
Audible by Amazon: This is a subscription service that offers a free trial and 2 free books. There are incentives to continue the service with book credits and more freebies as you continue your subscription. If you are highly interested in the latest titles published, then this would be the best route for you.
The other option is your library. The library in my area has been developing for years their digital library by using services like Hoopla.
Also, the library has eBooks for borrowing. They will sync to any device (computer, tablet, smartphone) over WiFi and when the borrowing due date arrives the content magically disappears. The book face will still appear in your app, but when you click to see the content it will tell you that the book lending has ended.
I have built my Kindle library significantly through the posts by The Money Saving Mom and the Modern Mrs. Darcy’s free and great-deal Kindle books lists.
Almost daily Crystal will post eBooks that are currently free on Amazon.
Anne updates her list of great Kindle deals. These books aren’t free, but they are hand picked books that are significantly discounted.
The Free Kindle App: Anyone can use the Kindle App with or without a tablet, smartphone, or Kindle. Whatever you are reading this post on can be transformed into a Kindle by using the app. You will need the app to read books for free either from Amazon or the library. Download the free app by clicking here.
Check out this free book for Kindle: How Audiobooks Make You Smarter: 7 Little Known Ways Audio Books Can Boost Memory Capacity And Increase Intelligence
Do you have a reading hack that I haven’t mentioned here? I’d love for you to share it with me. As always, thanks for reading. Check out the links in this post – the underlined ones are affiliate links – thanks for your support of this site. For more information on how this site uses affiliate links click here and for more free content delivered to your email click here.