June 24, 2014 by Austin McNair
Tis’ the season to be reading! But apparently not many of us are doing so. In the United States, 42% of college graduates do not read once they’ve moved on from higher education. This statistic is mind blowing. I know that life is busy, but reading isn’t all that hard to make time for if you’re strategic enough.
Have you been really aching to pick up a good book again? Here are three tips I have learned to help you read more. They have helped me out tremendously.
It’ll be hard not to sound like an advertisement here, but I REALLY do want to help you read more, and Audible.com is amazing! Over the past eight months, I have at least tripled my reading pace by utilizing different times during my days to listen through my audiobooks. It may sound so simple, but audiobooking is always my first recommendation to people who tell me they want to read more.
Consider these three times when you could be reading if you chose Audiobooks:
1.) Commuting – I have made a personal commitment to listen to audiobooks during my commute to work every morning. In my life rhythms, this simple practice has added a minimum of 2 hours of extra reading time per week during a time when I would normally be zoned out listening to a silly radio program. It may not sound like much, but that figure adds up to roughly 8 extra hours per month! Eight hours just so happens to be the average length of most of the books I’ve bought so far. Win!
2.) Grocery Shopping – Fun Fact: I am a wanderer. So grocery shopping usually takes me twice as long as the average person. It’s the best time to pop on a good story drive my cart through my imagination. Add on 40 minutes a week!
3.) Dishes/Laundry – These are two things we all hate doing but have to do. Well guess what? It’s not so bad if you’re simultaneously engrossed in the finer details on how the British enlightenment is wayyy better than the French one. Suck it France.
2.) You Need to Avoid “Reader’s Block”
Reading as a regular life rhythm is one of the hardest practices to start and one of the easiest practices to stop. So when you’re in a solid reading groove, you want to give yourself every opportunity not to let the momentum slow down.
You may think I’m weird, but “reader’s block” is a real problem. Last summer I had come off of a good streak reading – five books cover to cover in three months (Hey! Not too bad for by standards). But when I was finished with those five books, I had no idea what I wanted to read next, and the momentum stalled.
It probably took me three months to get out of that dry spell. However, I have since put to use a few tools which have helped me avoid “reader’s block.” It all comes down to creating a living list where you can regularly add books and review books.
Goodreads.com – Log in with your Facebook and begin filling out your profile. Goodreads is a great place to comprehensively list and review all the books you’ve read. More than this, it allows you to connect with friends and other notable individuals and see which books they’ve read and reviewed. I have over thirty books in my “Want to Read” category. This list is a great place for me to check when I need a new book.
Amazon Wish List – Very similar to Goodreads, keeping an up to date Wishlist on Amazon can prove to be a useful tool when you’re not sure what to read next. Will you read all these books? Of course not, so add books to your wishlist liberally! Why hold back?
Two Good Questions:
1.) Who are my favorite authors reading/quoting? – This is an especially helpful question to ask when reading nonfiction. Is there a specific source that your current book is quoting over and over again? Go find that source and add it to your wishlist!
2.) What other books has this author written? – Are you reading a great story right now? Why not explore that author’s earlier work? Spending time reading many books by one author in a row really allows you to grab a hold of an authors style. Going deeper with individual authors adds a new level to your reading experience.
3.) Stop “Dead Zoning”
At the end of the day, if I want to create space for myself to read more, then I am going to have to be strategic and make some life choices. Reading takes time, and I understand that after an eight hour work day the last thing I want to do is go home and begin reading Balthazar’s “Theo-Drama.” I know that. But without precaution, I know that a little bit relaxation can often sink into a zombie like trace. I call this trance “dead zoning.”
My wife sees me “dead-zoning” all the time. We all do it. The “dead zone” is a period of time where you are not productively working but you are also not intentionally resting. Like a particle of dust, you float about your living room aimless without a purpose. You alternate between checking the refrigerator and checking your Facebook just hoping for something interesting to appear. It won’t. In the “dead zone” you have sunken beneath cool sensation of taking a break, and fallen into the caverns of a zombie-like existence.
We all have our “dead zones.” Identifying these times beforehand and choosing to replace them with twenty or so minutes of reading will prove to be a tough practice to execute, but it will be worth it every time.
Minutes add up. So if you are serious about your reading goals, then it’s time to become more strategic in how you approach it. Make the most out boring tasks by adding an audiobook, prevent “reader’s block” by utilizing online tools to keep your momentum going, and identify times when you are prone to “dead zoning” and proactively choose to read for twenty minutes instead. I promise that if you do two of these three things, your reading pace will more than double over the next couple of weeks.