Ok, ok. I know you know how to read. But seriously this is probably the most asked question I get when I post book reviews. I have LOVED doing quick video reviews of books on my Insta stories and every time I get positive feedback and questions. Many people are surprised at how much I read. Many people ask if I read on a kindle or listen to audiobooks, and how I do that.
In the next month or so I hope to have a very good, very thorough post all about your library card. Why you should get one. How you can use it. All the amazing things that come with it. You can also read a post I wrote two years ago called How to Become a Reader. But for now I wanted to talk about something that has been on my mind, and that’s all of the different ways I “read.”
I firmly believe that everyone should read more. Whatever your current level of reading is – I think you should up it. Reading is so so good for you. But you have to be doing it right. And if you ARE doing it right (right for YOU), it’s easy. Each person has their own level of reading that stretches them and energizes them. Each person should find their own rhythm and style of reading. You don’t have to read just like me, or just like your mom, or just like your high school English teacher. You just need to read. So let me tell you how I’ve found my rhythm, and how I read.
I mean, this is obvious. Did you ever truly ~like a book you were assigned to read? Do you ever make yourself push through a book you hate? Or worse, leave it half finished on your coffee table so it makes you feel guilty every time you see it? Yeah. I have found that half of the battle of reading more is actually wanting to read more. Reading should be fun and restorative and enjoyable. It’s not homework. So cut out whatever is making it feel like homework.
Put down books you aren’t loving. Refuse to feel guilty about it. Skip prefaces and skim parts that bore you. Throw yourself completely into a style you love, even if you feel embarrassed about only reading kids’ books or you think it’s creepy that all you read are dark crime novels. Nope. No guilt in bookland.
Curate a long list of books you actually WANT to read. Ask for recommendations from friends and get your butt over to Goodreads and create an account. I’ve also found great booklists on Pinterest. When you have great books to read it’s a million percent easier to read!
It’s been interesting to discover that habitual reading is all about creating rhythm. It’s hard to describe, and hard for me to say what will work for you. But let me tell you about my rhythm and hopefully you see what I mean.
I try to always be reading more than one book. I know that sounds insane, but I’ve found that I get through wayyy more books and it’s much easier to read when I give myself a choice about what I want to read at that exact moment. And they serve different purposes – I’ll talk below about why I like having an audiobook, ebook, and hard copy at all times.
I try to always have more than one book on hold, ideally one in each format. This is essential for keeping your reading streak strong and maintaining momentum. If you finish a book and don’t have another one on deck it’s far too easy to fall into a reading slump! Cultivate your “To Read” list and always have something you’re excited about! Join a book club if you like, or find a booklist to follow (you can read along with me). It has really helped me to simply ~plan what I want to read.
Finally, I try to ask “When could I read today?” almost every day. It’s a priority to me, so I prioritize it. I bring a book in the car to read while I wait for preschool pickup. I crank an audiobook while I fold laundry or clean my kitchen. I sneak in a chapter on the bathroom floor during bathtime. Part of my rhythm is being comfortable with small, short reading sessions squeezed into the day.
Maybe you read for an hour before bed, or while you eat lunch. Maybe you do super well reading on your phone because your job includes lots of interrupted waiting periods (#MOMS). Maybe you like to go look for new books in person at the library once or twice a month.
A big part of your rhythm might be some kind of service, such as Audible or Kindle Unlimited. Do your research and see if it will work for you! I don’t use them, because I’m a big believer in library cards and firmly think that anyone can be a big reader for exactly $0 so at the very least you should get a library card!
Classic Hard Copies
There’s just something about cracking the spine on a book you’re just starting, you know? I get such a thrill. I LOVE reading hard copies, and I’ll never stop. I try to read a little before bed (I have fallen asleep with books in my bed since I was like 5 years old, and every time Ryan complains about it I tell him they’ve been in my bed longer than he has). Lately I’ve been adding “read for 10 minutes” in between chores on my list when I need a break. I’ll read during meals. During bathtime. While waiting in the car. You just have to have your hard copy handy.
Another great thing about hard copies is that almost always they have fewer holds than ebooks and audiobooks. For example, I wanted to reread A Wrinkle In Time before the movie came out. Just like every other person in Utah County, it appears. There were serious over 100 holds on the ebook and audiobook, but only 3 holds on the hard copy.
I’ve also found that hard copies are best for fantasy & science fiction books with lots of important names, place names, and other unique nouns. It’s sometimes hard to keep things straight – locations, family relationships, names that sound alike – if you’re listening. And it’s always nice to be able to flip to maps or family charts, or to reread stuff.
The convenience of ebooks cannot be beat. While we were in Disneyland, I’d get back to the hotel at night and be exhausted but buzzed. I’d read on my phone under the covers (like I do nearly every night) to unwind and get sleepy. I finished a book, and was able to go straight to Overdrive (the app my library uses for digital materials) and search their ebook collection, filtering by “available now” and sorting by “popular.” WHAM. I had a new ebook on my phone within 5 minutes!
I don’t have a Kindle – I just use the app on my phone. You have a book at your fingertips no matter where you are or what you’re doing. I can read in a doctor’s waiting room, or any awkward or boring public setting. Nursing moms, where you at? I DEVOURED books while nursing.
I can attribute my voracious reading lately to deleting Twitter and instead filling that wasted time with reading ebooks on my phone. How much time do YOU spend on your phone? Why not add some reading to that instead of mindlessly scrolling old memes and politics on Facebook?
I’ve found that thrillers and YA fiction tend to work best on ebook for me – basically anything that you can consume quickly, easily, and in short, interrupted bursts. Deep literature, anything introspective, I’ve found to be much easier to consume with a hard copy.
Really, I’m here to preach the gospel of audiobooks. Audiobooks can be an absolute game changer for people who think they don’t like reading, or think they don’t have time to read. I think audiobooks count as reading. I just do. As a teacher, I know firsthand how difficult actual reading can be for people and there’s something less intimidating and less intentional about audiobooks.
Think about how much of your day you spend listening to music, or doing mindless tasks like laundry or cleaning. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could squeeze a whole hour of audiobook listening into your average day. I listen during all my chores, at the gym, driving, and even in the tub or shower sometimes! (I got this waterproof bluetooth speaker and I love it lol) We love listening to audiobooks as a family on road trips – I made Ryan listen to all 7 Harry Potters and now we’re *slowly* working through his favorite, Lord of the Rings.
I, again, use Overdrive to download audiobooks from the library. But I’ve also done discs from the library in my car’s CD player when I was commuting 90 minutes a day and it was AWESOME. I love audibooks for nonfiction and for anything with lots of dialogue, like mysteries, romance, and fiction. I will say, though, that he narrator is KEY. A bad narrator can sour the whole experience. A great narrator can bring the book to life. Jim Dale who reads Harry Potter is obviously the GOAT.
Lots of people use and love Audible, and I think that can work really well if you discover that audiobooks are your ~thing. But it’s just as easy, and free, to do it through your library.