“New Year, new me!”
Ahhhh…. come January I will set some lofty goal for myself to accomplish. Maybe I want to be able to run a mile. Maybe I just want to brush my teeth consistently. Whatever goal I choose, I always imagine doing it perfectly, and thus creating a shiny new version of myself.
I think this year’s goal is going to be about anything other than being perfect.
If you LOVE reading, but find yourself skipping over your to-be-read list in favor of another Netflix binge, I’m right there with you. So today, I’m sharing five tips (plus a couple of bonuses) that have helped me read more, without the pressure to be perfect.
5 Tips for a "Better" Reading Habit.
I’m going to start with my “bonus” tips because I feel like if you implement even one of these, you’ve laid a good foundation to read more. And they’ll help you realize how much time you can reclaim.
Bonus Tip 1: Get the TV out of the bedroom- or cut the cord completely!
Ok, this one is tough for all of us Netflix lovers, but hear me out. Since getting the TV out of the bedroom, my evening winddown routine (which often involves reading a chapter or two) has become so much more peaceful.
Having the TV in one dedicated part of the house has helped cut back on soooo much mindless bingeing. If you have the TV in a central part of the house (and thus temptation ever in front of you) try playing some of your favorite music or listening to a podcast or audiobook through it instead of defaulting to the next episode of The Great British Bakeoff.
Want to take this a step further? I have one friend who is so dedicated to reading that she canceled all her streaming subscriptions. She bought back hours a day! If you have a sports fanatic or kids in the house, this option may not be possible for you. But do consider trimming down your subscriptions to give yourself a rest from decision fatigue.
Bonus Tip 2: Set time limits on your social media apps.
We’ve all been there. We got on Facebook or Instagram or TikTok for “five minutes” and an hour later we emerge dazed and confused through an internet timewarp.
It happens to everyone with social media- I’m very guilty of this!
One thing that has helped immensely is using the “digital wellness” settings within my phone and social media apps. Using these limits, I set reminders for myself to take a break if I’ve been scrolling a little too long.
I do have a couple of notes on this!
These limits have a tendency to reset or unset with major updates, so it does take a little upkeep.
Also, these are “soft limits” akin to the Netflix prompts after a few episodes – it doesn’t automatically stop the app. It just tells you how long you’ve been going. If you’re like me and lack the willpower to say “no” but still want to limit your overall time on social media, you may find that having an external app to monitor, and even shut down, your social apps after your specified time runs out is a better option than these internal settings.
Ok, on to the main tips!
Reading Tip 1: (Re)read what you love.
I know this one seems like cheating, but we’re going for a better reading habit not a perfect one, remember?
When I hit a rough patch, re-reading my favorites is a good way to shake me out of my funk. It not only allows me to read simply for pleasure, but because I know the ending of the story, I sidestep any potential for disappointment. This works really well for me because I’m a huge mood reader who loves multiple genres!
Maybe you don’t like re-reading? Fair enough.
I highly encourage you to still read what you love, especially if you’re in a reading slump. This can be your favorite genre, your best-loved author, or the next in a series you enjoy.
Reading Tip 2: Explore (and DNF) guilt-free!
Let’s face it. Not every book is for every reader, and that’s ok.
Sometimes though, even the best genre can go stale. And that’s when I recommend exploring!
Try a new genre, author, or series to help get you out of the slump.
Maybe you’re a huge historical romance reader. Cozy mysteries could become your new passion as well. Or you might surprise yourself with fantasy which often has historical and mythological elements in it.
More of a thriller/horror reader? Hardboil mysteries and sci-fi might be your next big thing since they often bring chills and thrills of their own.
Try a couple of different authors or kinds of books from each new genre before moving on to see if there is a particular style or subgenre you like. But if a book isn’t working for you? DNF hard and fast. I mean in the first couple of chapters (or pages) kind of fast.
After all, this is about what YOU like. Not about being a completionist. And knowing what you DON’T like? Invaluable.
Reading outside your usual genre can help rekindle your love for it. And you just might find something new to love along the way.
Reading Tip 3: Go thee to a library!
Reading can be an… expensive… hobby for me. Especially since I read fast, in lots of genres, and LOVE hardbacks.
To save my budget, my library card comes to the rescue!
My local library is really well stocked with a lot of recent releases and some of the most popular authors in every genre. I can get a stack of books and sample to my heart’s content- which is especially good when I’m in exploration mode.
Visiting library can become a beloved tradition with a friend, spouse, or kids. And it’s so much fun to see what everyone loves to read!
Not seeing anything you like? Many libraries also take requests for book acquisitions, so if they don’t have something I love, I can ask for it and many times, they’ll add it to the stacks or their digital collection very quickly!
Don’t have a physical library nearby? See if your region has a digital library available. These work the same as physical libraries, just with ebooks, and are godsends for more remote areas.
Reading Tip 4: Go to… Instagram?
Yep. I know I just told you to cut back on the mindless scrolling, but I think this tip is an exception. Both Instagram and TikTok have vibrant reading communities in almost every genre you can imagine.
Do a quick search for your favorite genre, author, or series, and you’ll find bookstagrammers and booktokers with similar interests- and spot-on reading recs!
These peeps can help you explore your genre more widely and keep up to date with upcoming releases that might be a good fit for you since they often review ARC copies by big names!
Reading Tip 5: Buddy read with a friend.
This is my favorite tip. Sometimes, I’m dying to discuss the amazing book I just read with… anyone! But since I don’t have a fellow reading fanatic in the house, I have to look for my convos elsewhere.
Buddy reading can take many forms. You can pair up with a friend. Join a local book club. Find a reading group for your genre online (Goodreads has lots of good options!) Or join a celebrity’s book club on Literati, Amazon, or clubs like Reese’s and Oprah’s.
You can Zoom or Facetime with someone across the country. Or maybe you meet up with your buddy for a coffee and reading date at a local shop! How you do this is up to you and it brings a fun social element into reading that even introverts can enjoy.
I hope you enjoyed these five tips to build up a “better” reading habit! Let me know if I missed your favorite reading tip and I’ll be happy to add it!