Monday, November 1, 2010

Tips For a Better Reading Life: Read More Books

First of all, apologies (yet again) for my extended silence. I tend to blog in bursts, but I am working on a system that will keeping me blogging consistently and often. Here's to another try. Thanks to those who are still around.

In an effort to transform and refocus my blog, I am going to start gathering and sharing resources and tips for improving your reading life. I hope to learn many things as I share them.

Today, tips for getting more books into our lives. This will be an ongoing topic as I am sure there are many different approaches to this, but here are a few to get us started. When I set my reading goal of 50 books for 2010, I wasn't sure how (or even if) I would accomplish it, and I had no plan for significantly changing my reading habits. But I have learned somethings along the way that have helped me get close to my goal (6 books to go in 2 months!).

1. Watch less TV.

This one is obvious (as is its close cousin-spend less time online), but truly effective. I often have a hard time turning it off, so I try to get in the habit of just not turning it on. I have spent many evenings this year with no TV and little to no internet. I've read a couple of shorter books in a single evening this way. This principle can be applied to several different things (movies, video games-any time consuming distraction) that eat up time with little reward. Think hard about what activities hold your attention and see if reading can replace any of them.

2. Read more than one book at a time. Always have one of those books with you.

The first part of this is controversial. Some dedicated readers will say that it's distracting to read multiple books and that it will slow you down, but I disagree. One thing that does help me from getting confused is to read books of different genres simultaneous instead of three Jane Austen novels. The best way to use this strategy is to keep certain books in specific places. Say you are reading one novel, one memoir, and one detailed non-fiction book. You might keep the novel in your car, purse, or work bag for on-the-go reading. Then you might keep the memoir on your nightstand for before bed reading. Finally the non-fiction book might stay in your office, or in the family room for longer periods of sustained reading. This method works because you always have a book ready to read, and you don't have to worry about retrieving your book from the nightstand before you leave for work or to run errands. Which brings me to the second part of this tip. Always have a book with you. Stuck waiting at the DMV? Read your book. Waiting to pick someone up at the airport. Read your book. Waiting just about anywhere is made more pleasant by reading a book.

3. Audio books.

I wrote about them a few months ago, but let me reiterate. Audiobooks help to you to read books in times and places where you previously couldn't. The car is my primary audiobook venue. I still listen to podcasts, CDs, and the radio sometimes, but once every few months I listen to an audiobook. My commute is only 15 minutes, but that's 30 minutes a day, plus errands, and the occasional traffic jam. I typically finish books in about 2 weeks. It makes me way more relaxed about traffic or getting lost (as long as I'm not running late!). And I'd probably have nearly 9 or 10 fewer books on my yearly tally if it weren't for audiobooks. I get mine from the library and occasionally from iTunes. I've never tried, but I hear excellent things.

That's probably more than enough for today. I'll share some more next week. What are your tips for reading more? Where do you find time to read in unexpected places? Do you read more than one book at a time? What have you given up to squeeze in more books? Do you listen as well? Do tell. I'm dying to learn some more tips!


Katie said...

Yay! I'm glad you're back!

I really need to cut out the TV but it's so hard. I don't watch a lot of idle TV, like I don't just flip through the stations, but I have a lot of DVRed shows that I love and I can't decide who to cut. It's very stressful. ;)

Stephanie said...

I hope that we have an opportunity to listen to quite a few audiobooks on the road this year. What are your top 5 favorites from this past year?