Are you trying to establish a better reading habit for the new year? Despite being life-long book lovers, we’re also familiar with being in a reading slump. Whether this is the first time you’ve tried to start reading again or if you’ve cycled in and out of regularly reading books several times, we hope these tips help cure your reading rut.
Find the Right Book
When Melissa falls into a reading slump, she’s never afraid to set a book aside and start another, no matter how many people have told her that it’s one of the best books ever. She would rather find a new book that makes her reading time enjoyable and then later decide if she wants to return to the book that wasn’t right for that moment.
Of course, there are many books worth pushing through and stretching outside your comfort zone to read. However, those aren’t always the best books when you’re just trying to get back into reading. So give yourself lots of grace and focus on enjoyment!
If you have a favorite genre, pick a book in that comfort zone UNLESS your rut was formed by reading too many similar books in a row. For example, if you burnt yourself out on reading every contemporary Rom Com we’ve recommended back to back, try a historical fiction or contemporary book about friendship instead.
Sometimes the right book could be an old favorite. Escaping into a familiar world is a good way to ease into a new habit. Your next book could be something new once you’ve reestablished the positive feeling that comes from finishing a good book.
Speaking of finding good books, consider joining one of our reading challenges. They are the perfect way to get back into reading for a few reasons.
First, they’re low-stress and a fun way to commit to regular reading throughout the year.
You can start by choosing one of three themes that best match your interests.
If you love to travel or learn more about cultures around the world, try Book Voyage.
If you love historical fiction or modern history, try the Decades Challenge.
If you love learning about different generations or want to try the newest challenge, try the Lifetime of Reading.
Within each challenge, you’ll find a carefully curated reading list of 20+ great books. Instead of endlessly browsing at your local library, we’ve narrowed down the options while still providing a wide variety of genres that still fit the monthly theme. The challenges still allow ample time to finish a book, combined with a natural deadline to complete one title and select another.
Each month, the book lists are a great way to find recommendations, but if you ever need help narrowing down your selection based on your preferences, we’re happy to help!
Join a Community of Readers
Committing to a challenge on your own is helpful, but joining others with similar goals is even more inspiring. For example, we’ve found that people who join our Read with the Book Girls Facebook group are more likely to stick with the challenge and reading in general because the other members’ excitement is contagious.
It’s a supportive and no-pressure group. When you see others post what they are reading, you’ll want to get OFF the internet and pick up your book. And that’s our goal!
Unlike most spots online, we try to make the group efficient so you can pop in, quickly catch up, and then get back to reading instead of creating a place you end up accidentally scrolling for hours.
Joining or starting a local book club is another great option for community. The accountability of discussing a book is a great way to motivate yourself. Or, to ease your way into accountability, try a buddy read with a friend. You can agree to read one book at the same time and check-in with each other along the way.
Consider Starting Short
If everyone is talking about the latest 700-page novel, it’s tempting to want to pick it up as well. But if you haven’t read a book since high school, back when New Kids on the Block were all the rage, it could be beneficial to finish a bit of an appetizer book first.
Consider short stories like novellas that can fit into shorter periods of free time and give you the satisfaction of goal achievement when you cross your first book off your list. Many of our challenge lists have notes in the descriptions when a book is novella-length.
We include them as often as possible so readers can still complete a challenge book in months when they have very little leisure time. Short story collections are another great option if you only want to finish short reads fit into spare moments of your day.
Find the Right Format
This is a big one. If your only time to read is late at night, paper books may not be the best option. Consider a lightweight Kindle Paperwhite for ebooks that you can read in the dark and enjoy without the danger of ending up on social media on your phone. If you have zero free time but a driving commute, try audiobooks on your drive each day. We both also enjoy audiobooks while doing chores, from gardening to grocery shopping. With audiobooks, be sure to try different reading speeds to find your sweet spot.
Or, maybe you can’t focus on audiobooks, but can drift entirely into the world of your characters when sitting down with a paper book. We believe all the methods count equally and only differ in how well they work for you, which sometimes takes some trial and error to determine.
While we both read books all three ways, Angela listens to books faster and retains way more of the book than Melissa listening at a slower rate. She’s also better at listening more throughout the day and to any genre. Melissa has to be doing something with her hands and has to have the perfect narrator, preferable British, to really get into an audiobook. On the flip side, while Melissa can’t listen to a book at 2x speed, she reads print books very quickly.
All of that to say that each reader is different. The important thing isn’t to match what others are doing, but figuring out what is most beneficial and enjoyable to you!
Divide & Conquer
If it’s been a long time since you’ve read a full book and it feels overwhelming, you can set smaller daily goals. For example, if your book is 300 pages, commit to reading 10 pages per day starting at the beginning of the month. By the last day of the month, you’ll finish up your book! Another option is committing to one chapter per day.
In many cases, you’ll find yourself engaged in the story and reading beyond your daily goal!
Know Your Why
Perhaps the best way to restore your habit of reading is to remind yourself why you want to read.
Are you more relaxed when you’ve carved out time for a book?
Do you want screen-free quiet time?
Do you enjoy learning through books?
Do you want to escape reality for awhile?
Your specific motivation doesn’t matter as much as pausing to think about your own whys. Once you’ve identified them, you’re more likely to prioritize time for reading. We find that when we use reading to decompress, we’re able to handle other stresses of life with a bit more ease. Being aware of that helps us remember to put down our phones and pick up our books.
We hope these tips help you get back into reading. It’s not always easy to carve time a little time for yourself into a day, but it’s worth it!