Someone recently asked me for tips to help him read more. It’s funny because I feel I can use some tips myself.
As an author, editor, and communication strategist, I read a lot. I write a lot. I edit a lot. Manuscripts, blogs, articles, social media content. So much social media content. But I haven’t always spent that time reading books - at least not as much time as I’d like.
Over the past two years, I made it a goal to read and enjoy more books. And I have. These days, I read a book or two a month. I’m pretty happy with that. Here are a few tips that helped me find and make time to read more books:
1. Decrease screen time. I think many of us actually do have time to read. We just spend it doing things like watching TV, streaming, or scrolling on social. There's nothing wrong with those things, but if you're having trouble finding *extra* time, start there. (I took the TV out of my bedroom last year and that made a big difference. It eliminated a lot of mindless watching.)
2. Pick books you’re excited about so reading feels like something you GET to do, not something you HAVE to do. As much as I love a goal, I don’t want reading to be a check the box exercise or another task on my To Do list.
3. If you tend to start books but not finish because you get distracted then have to start the book from the beginning - try short story compilations. That way you can complete one story at a time - and eventually finish the entire book. I read several compilations this year and last, including Ayati by Roxane Gay.
4. Set reading goals. Do you want to read for 15 or 30 minutes a day; read 1 chapter or 15 pages a day? Goals can help you establish reading as a habit and make reading something you look forward to.
5. Always bring a book with you so you can read whenever you have random pockets of time.
6. Listen to audio books. I haven’t tried this tip yet but a number of people have told me how much they love audio books. Hearing the words helps them focus and enjoy a book more. It’s also great for commutes, road trips, and even marathon house cleaning sessions.
7. Join a book club and read in community. Check out Well-Read Black Girl for clubs in your area or start your own. Some of my friends and fam are in a book club. They meet monthly and basically host parties for reading - complete with food, drinks, and lively discussions.
8. Try not to get caught up in what you think you SHOULD read. Best-seller lists, awards, and recommendations from friends are cool - but read what YOU want. A book published 10 years ago can still be enjoyed today. Picture books don't have to be reserved for kids (Check out my IG for picture book posts.) I'm closer to middle age than middle grade, but I read several middle grade books this year. Great writing is great writing.
9. Try new genres. I've never been a big fan of comics, so I didn't really rush to read graphic novels. I took the plunge this year with I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina and New Kid by Jerry Craft. I loved them.
10. Use your library. I love buying books, especially from Black-owned bookstores and other indie booksellers. But you don't have to buy a book to read it - especially if your "to read" pile is already high, and your book budget is already busted. (I may or may not be talking to myself right now.)
Are you trying to make more time for reading? What tips have helped you?