It’s no secret I love to read, and I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember. As an elementary schooler, I fell in love with books and by the fourth grade, was reading by flashlight in my room every night before I went to bed. I loved Nancy Drew, The Babysitters Club, Dear America, Little House on the Prairie—and so many more. In high school, college, and as a young professional going to grad school, I made some time for reading for pleasure, but I also had a lot of reading assigned to me for school. As such, the concept of reading even more, even if it was for pleasure, didn’t always seem that pleasurable. Once I finished grad school and was free from syllabi full of assigned reading, I fell back in love with reading for fun—and found myself staying up late into the night to finish a good book, just like I did back in elementary school.
Since I started sharing reviews of the books I read here on A Touch of Teal and over on Instagram, one of the questions I am often asked is “how do you read so much?” So, I thought I’d answer the question today with this blog post.
One last thing I’ll say before I dive in—I love reading because it brings me so much joy and has enriched my life in so many ways, but if reading does not bring you joy, you don’t have to do it! I am not a more virtuous or better person than the next just because I have a high book count on Goodreads at the end of the year. I’m a big believer that you should spend your time doing things that make you happy, not things that feel like a chore or that you dread. But that being said, if you do want to read more, I’ll tell you what’s worked for me!
THERE’S A SEASON FOR EVERYTHING
I kind of got to this point earlier in this post—but there have been certain seasons in my life where I have more time to read, and certain seasons where reading has to be put on the back burner. From high school through grad school, the most intense portion of my academic career, I didn’t really read that much for pleasure. After reading assigned books or pages and pages of assigned reading, the last thing I wanted to do before bed was curl up with…more reading. I read a few books for pleasure in college, and maybe 10 books, at most, for pleasure during my two years of grad school.
Since I finished grad school at the end of 2016, I’ve been in a season of my life that lends itself to reading for pleasure. While I work full time, I’m single, I don’t have kids, and I don’t have anything I have do to after work or on weekends, so how I spend my free time is really up to me. I am sure there are seasons ahead where I won’t have as much time to read as I do now, and that’s ok! I know I will be able to stock my nightstand full of great books again in retirement ;).
I BOUGHT A KINDLE
I love my Kindle Paperwhite so much that I wrote a whole post about it several years ago—you can read it here. Long story short, I used to be a Kindle skeptic thinking there is no way I could ever give up my physical books. But my old boss convinced me I would love it, and I am so glad she did.
I love using my Kindle for a few reasons. For one, it’s great because you can get a new book instantly. You don’t have to wait for a book to arrive in the mail or for when you have time to swing by a bookstore. As soon as you finish a book, you can buy another or download one for free from the library, and it’s delivered to you in seconds. For another, it makes it so much easy to read while you’re on vacation or traveling for work. You have access to as many books as you want—and you don’t have to lug them around with you. (For instance, I always used to be worried about bringing too few books to the beach, but then I would end up bringing too many, which was also annoying. My whole beach bag one summer was books!) And, because the Kindle Paperwhite screen doesn’t have a glare like an iPad or iPhone, it makes it so easy to read in direct sunlight.
On a related note, because the Kindle Paperwhite is backlit, you can also read in the dark at night, which is what I do. I love that I don’t have to read with a light on before bed, as I think it really helps my body start to relax and get ready for sleep. You can also dim the light to your preferences, and I’ve found it’s not bright enough to keep others awake if you want to stay up later than someone to read.
I still do read some physical books—mostly non-fiction as I don’t like to read those before bed, so I still buy physical copies to read while I am on the go, or the books I am sent through the Random House influencer program. My sister bought me a reading light like this for Christmas that I love because it allows me to read physical books at night with the lights off—but when given the choice, I will pick the Kindle format over a hard copy.
I MAKE READING A PART OF MY DAILY ROUTINE
Just like anything, if you make it a habit, for better or worse, it’s a lot easier to incorporate into your life. Reading is just a part of my daily routine, so I don’t have to work all that hard to carve out time it. I like to read for an hour or so bed every night—it gets me off my phone and out of my head before I fall asleep. (And most nights, I fall asleep with my Kindle open and then have to go back a few pages to make sure I’m tracking!) If you find your mind racing about your day, or your to-do list for tomorrow, or that awkward thing you did six years ago, definitely give reading before bed a try—it’s so nice to escape to another place, another time, another story.
I FIT READING INTO THE CRACKS OF MY LIFE
Before the pandemic, when I was still commuting to work and generally just out and about more, I always had a book with me. Instead of scrolling mindlessly through my phone while on the Metro, or waiting at the doctor, or holding down the table for my friends at happy hour, I would read. I used to finish a book or so a week just by reading during all the time I spent waiting that would have otherwise been wasted down an Internet black hole.
Now that I am working from home, I don’t have as much wasted time before, but I still keep a hard copy book out on my couch pretty much all the time so that if I have 10 minutes between calls and need a mind break or have 15 minutes after to work to kill before meeting a friend for dinner it’s easy to pick over scrolling on my phone.
Also, if you download the Kindle app to your phone, that’s a great way to access your books on-the-go and read during all the cracks you have throughout your day. When you get back to your Kindle, your book will automatically sync to your new page location.
I FIGURED OUT WHAT I LIKE TO READ
I think one of the best ways to read more is figure out what you like to read, and then read more of that genre. As a kid, I knew what I liked, and doubled down on all my favorite series. That same principle has applied in my reading as an adult. The books I tend to gravitate towards now are rom com chick lit, historical fiction, and memoirs. Every now and then, I’ll read a thriller or a self-help book or a non-fiction read about a topic I’m interested in, but 90% of the time, I stick to my tried-and-true. Because I like what I’m reading, it’s enjoyable, and it makes me want to keep reading more. You will never catch me reading fantasy or sci-fi—I just can’t suspend my disbelief! And if I had to read those genres all the time, I probably wouldn’t read.
So if you haven’t found what you like to read yet, keep trying new things. And if you have found what you like to read, keep reading more of that kind of book! Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about what you’re reading—very little of what I read is high brow fiction, and I’m ok with that. (I mean, hello, one of my favorite books ever is basically One Direction fan fiction.) Not everything you do in life has to be enriching or self-bettering, some of it can just be for pleasure!
I READ REALLY FAST
Like anything, the more you do something, the better you tend to become. Same thing goes with reading. Because I read a lot as a child, and my aforementioned liberal arts education required a lot of reading, I’ve had a lot of practice—so I am a really fast reader. My grandma is also a voracious reader and can read really fast, so there could also be some genetic factor at play. This is why you’ll never see me post about audio books—I don’t enjoy them because I can read the book so much faster than when it is read aloud to me. (And yes, I am one of those crazy people that listens to podcasts on 1.5X or 2X speed, depending on the pod.)
Because I can read quickly, I can read more books than someone who has a slower pace, even if we both spent the same amount of time reading. I also tend to skim through a lot of the more flowery language of a book—if there are several paragraphs describing a setting or what a character is wearing, I make sure I get the author’s main point without necessarily reading every word, and then move on. (My Grandma also does this—so apple doesn’t fall far!)
I hope this was helpful—and like I said, if reading isn’t your thing and you don’t want it to be, don’t sweat! Society loves to tell us that morning people are more virtuous, but I love being a night owl and staying up late isn’t something I think I need to or want to change about myself. Same thing goes if you’re not a reader.
As a reminder, you can always follow along with what I am reading in real time over on Goodreads and while I did sunset my monthly on my nightstand posts, I am going to test out a new quarterly format, so stay tuned for that!