how I became a reader again
I've always been a reader and would never have imagined seasons of not reading much, but one came. Pregnancy made me so exhausted that, as much as I tried to read, I almost always fell asleep instead. Early motherhood drove me to read a lot of books related to mothering, but for the most part I remained stuck in a rut and not reading much or widely.
Then came 2016. One of my goals/hopes for the year was to read more. Reading truly is one of those things that I'm always better for. It makes me more me. So, I'm pleased to tell you I've succeeded, with gusto, at reading more this year. I've read more this year than in the past 3 or 4 combined and it's been so life-giving. I thought I'd share how I became a reader again, and the tips and tricks I've learned this year to fill my life with books again.
- I started off the year with a few books I KNEW I would love. I didn't read anything that wasn't guaranteed to be enjoyable/inspiring/up my ally. I knew I had to get back in a groove before I read anything that would stretch me or that I wasn't sure of.
- I got realistic about format. I love a good old-fashioned-page-flipping-book, but in this stage of my life, it can be difficult to carry books around. I realized I was much more likely to get to a book if it was available on my phone or ipad. So KINDLE books became my reading format of choice. I always have my phone with me, so it's not one more thing I have to remember or lug around and if I find a spare minute, I can use it towards a book.
- I also learned to embrace AUDIO books! Like a kindle book, I have them accessible whenever I have my phone with me. I purchased a pair of bluetooth headphones and now it's easy to listen while I do dishes, laundry, driving, or even walking the aisles at the grocery store (if I'm alone). I struggled to focus when I first began listening. My mind would wander and I would have to rewind and try again. I did some experimenting and discovered the speed is the key for me. Audio books are recorded at a slow reading pace, but most reading apps allow you to change the speed to 1.25 or 1.5, and some even allow you to go up to 1.75 or 2. I listen to most books at a speed of at least 1.5. I sometimes go even faster, depending on the book and the reader.
- I started listening to podcasts about books. My favorite book-ish podcast is What Should I Read Next. The host, Anne Bogel - aka Modern Mrs. Darcy, interviews a reader on each episode. The guest shares 3 books they love, 1 book they hate, and what they are currently reading (along with some descriptions and discussion). Anne then provides them with 3 recommendations based on their preferences. It's so fun, and I hear about books I wouldn't hear of otherwise. Most importantly, passion stirs up passion. (Someday, I may apply to be on the show! How fun would that be?!)
- I have participated in some online book club experiences filled with inspiration and discussion. I've particularly enjoyed the Shalom Book Club, with Osheta and Cara. They record a podcast each month about that month's selection and facilitate a bit of conversation online. I don't know these ladies in real life, but I am certain that if I did we'd get along great! I really enjoy their book choices. They intentionally choose authors of different races and backgrounds and regularly change up the genre. And they always have meaningful conversation around the book (and fun too!).
- I follow bloggers on facebook and instagram who write about reading and, though I read a variety of their blog posts, I pay close attention to when they write about reading. Modern Mrs. Darcy and The Mom Creative are some of my favorites. As you follow people, you learn whose book taste is similar to yours. I have found insta-friends who have genuinely become my friends after bonding over books. If they recommend a book I haven't read, I add it to my list because I know I'll love it.
- After I got my feet wet again, I started reading a great variety of books. I read a smattering of fiction, spiritual writers, a good bit of memoir and biography, and a variety of non-fiction. I make sure to feed my spirit, my mind, and my creativity/imagination.
- I have learned not to feel guilty for sitting quietly with a cup of coffee and a book when my son naps. It's better for everyone if I do what I need to for me to be healthy and happy.
- I learned to read in the cracks. If I have time to read one page, I'll read one page. It adds up.
- I allow myself to quit books if they aren't captivating me. Some, I know I'll read but it's just not the right time. Others I realize are not for me and I give up entirely.
Do you love to read? What are some of your best tips and tricks?
Throughout December, I'll be sharing some of my favorite reads of the year in various genres and some of my hopes for my reading life next year. I can't wait to share!