One of the habits I’ve been trying to build in 2021 is becoming a more consistent reader. I’ve always enjoyed reading, and I’ve occasionally found time to dive into a good book. But I was the type of reader that would finish a book within 3 days of starting it, but not pick up another one for 3 months. I wanted to develop more consistency with reading this year, hoping to enter a constant state of learning and prioritizing reading as a key source of my leisurely pleasure. I set myself a lofty goal of reading 50 books in 2021 (which works out to about a book a week), which is much higher than the amount of books I’ve read in previous years. In 2020, even with the prolonged stay at home quarantines, I think I only read around 12 books. But in mid-February 2021 at the time I’m writing this post, I’m already at 13 books!
I’ve made significant progress towards my goal for a few reasons:
- I incorporated reading into my evening routine. Before, I used to just read whenever I felt like it, or whenever there was a certain book that I wanted to read. Now, I read almost daily right before I go to bed. It helps me wind down at night and often I will end up reading for an hour or more if the book I’m reading is captivating. I tend to read on my iPad using eBooks that I borrow from the library. While I cringe thinking that I’m directly exposed to a screen for the hour before I go to bed, I justify it by the fact that I am doing something peaceful not involving social media and I set the background to black so that the screen is not bright in my face.
- I am continually seeking variety in the type of books I read. Throughout my years of reading for personal enjoyment, the genres I favored most would change year to year. Now, I read mostly all genres and constantly mix up the style of the books to keep up my interest and engagement. If I just finished a romance novel, I’ll probably pick up a suspense/mystery next for the broader fiction category. This year, I’ve read a healthy mix of novels, personal development, psychology, business, and memoirs. If I were to only focus on my absolute favorite genre, I would probably get bored quickly and stop reading altogether.
- I discovered audiobooks. I was never a fan of audiobooks before because I believed that part of the reading experience was being fully immersed in the book by physically using your eyes to read. While I still believe this to be true for fiction books where the purpose is more for enjoyment than gathering information, I have become open to listening to non-fiction books. I came to this realization after I started listening to more podcasts. In my mind, listening to an audiobook that is purely for information or self-development is really just a longer podcast. Now, I listen to audiobooks when I’m cleaning around the house, driving, or taking a walk.
- I created a GoodReads account. Before this year, I’d never tracked the books I’d read. I read a lot of classics in high school as well as some novels, but I never took the small amount of time it would have taken to write it all down, which I greatly regret. When I made a GoodReads account, I tried my best to remember all of the books I’d read in the past, with the help of all of their pre-created lists of popular books I might have read. I was surprised that I read just under 100 books. In 22 years, I thought I would have read more than that! In addition to tracking the books I’ve read, I now use GoodReads to store my “to be read” list which I reference often (I currently have 42 books on this list!). GoodReads also has a nice feature where it recommends books for you based on past books you’ve read or books on your “to be read” shelf. While I take book recommendations mostly from other people such as friends, family members, and influencers, I think this algorithm is a nice feature for finding a new book if you’re really lacking inspiration.
- I am “reading” multiple books at once. At one time, I’m always reading a book book and listening to an audiobook, sometimes more than one of each too. I engage in these two activities at different times as mentioned above, so it makes sense to have more than one book in progress at once. Sometimes I also have more than one audiobook or book book that I’m currently reading, that way I can respond to the mood I’m feeling and avoid skipping on my reading habit altogether.
- My “to be read” list is abounding. As I mentioned earlier, I use GoodReads to track the books that I want to read (I also use Notion for this, but primarily GoodReads for a larger accumulation of books that I want to read). Having a large list of books that I want to read gives me the motivation in moving from one book to the next. No longer do I read a book and then wait another couple of months before another one inspires me. I constantly have a database of amazing books that I’m dying to read–it actually makes me finish the books I’m currently reading faster because I have a strong desire to work through my “to be read” shelf!
Those are just a few tips I’ve discovered for increasing my reading in 2021 that might help you build this into a habit as well. If you are interested in hearing about the books I’m enjoying, I often share book recommendations on the Simple Joys page of this blog. Happy reading!