Love’s Labours Rediscovered

10 ways to fit books into your life again

I often hear people say they don’t have time to read. Another way of looking at this is that they prioritise other things over reading. And of course, much of the time, they need to do that. But we can choose what we do with at least some of our time. And we can change those choices when our lives change. Otherwise, our precious time might not be working for us.

I’ve also heard people say they don’t even like reading. This tells me they haven’t enjoyed the books they’ve read in the past. Does it follow that there aren’t any books out there they would enjoy now? With millions of books available, and multiple ways to read them, that seems unlikely.

With a slight shift in mindset, you can fit books into your life again.

Here are some ways to get past ideas about reading that might not be helping you anymore.

Image of a woman working on a laptop, with kids running around.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

1 – Diversify your reading

If you stopped reading regularly when you left school, you are not alone. The books you had to read for your education are a tiny microcosm of the gigantic range of options available. Maybe you didn’t like literary fiction, plays, and books written in outdated language. Maybe you didn’t find any people like you, in the books you’ve read in the past. The ‘new in’ section of book retailers can help you diversify your reading. It’s a good place to find different types of books, with different types of characters.

Maybe you have always read books but aren’t getting the same enjoyment from them anymore? Our tastes develop over time. So our book choices need to change, too. The ‘new in’ section can help you find something different to read as well.

For example, I’m interested in reading more translated books. In UK schools, ‘world literature’ means books from the USA! But there are talented authors from all over the non-English speaking world who have books translated into English. And different perspectives from those I’ve read before.

If you’re too tired to concentrate on challenging books after a hard day at work or study, try surfing the retailer’s categories. There are plenty of books that are actually more enjoyable when you don’t pay too much attention. Young adult vampire romance, anyone? 

Or get someone else to read a book to you. Lots of stories are available as audiobooks now.

It’s amazing how many more books you can fit into your life when you’re really enjoying them.

2 – Just read

You don’t need to analyse the books you read for pleasure. There’s no need to improve yourself through everything you read. Just read something. For fun.

If it isn’t fun, stop reading it. Try a different book instead. Who’s going to stop you?

If you are worried about wasting money on books you might not finish, you can look for free book promotions on large retailers like Amazon. Or sign up to a service like Freebooksy. If you find a book you like, great! You can buy something else from that author. If you don’t like a book, you’ve lost nothing. Move on and don’t look back.

3 – Make a plan and a schedule

Are you going to be in a waiting room sometime this month? Or maybe on a train? Take a book with you. 

Not a planner? You can leave a book in your bag, or next to your keys. Then it’s ready when an opportunity arises.

You know what they say – if you don’t make time for it, it won’t happen. Pick a time and put it on the calendar. Or set a reminder. No, it won’t always happen. But if you schedule some time in, then sometimes – it will. 

This is an effective method for people who are busy with family commitments. Yes, they need you. No, they don’t need you every minute of every day. 

A lot of the pressure and guilt we feel about doing things for ourselves, and not being constantly available for our families, only exists in our own minds. Has anyone told you that you can’t have half an hour a week to chill out by yourself? Set a time for reading, tell whoever you need to tell, and let them support you. 

You might be surprised how much time you can actually carve out for yourself.

4 – Set reading goals

If you don’t have a particular time you can be free each week, here’s an alternative option. You could set yourself a goal to read one chapter every week. Write it on your To Do list, or on a post it note. That way, you can just fit it in whenever the opportunity arrives.

This tends to work well for people who are opportunity-driven or goal-oriented. Don’t do this if you tend to leave things to the last minute, and will miss out on sleep to tick them off the list!

5 – Replace busy work

Yes, you’re busy. But do you have to be as busy as you are? Take a critical look at how you spend your time. Is there something you do frequently that could be done less often? Or something you do occasionally that you could stop doing?

For me, it’s checking for book sales and reviews. I need to do it. But twice a month is enough. I can save half an hour every month by not doing that task every day. That’s three extra chapters I could be reading.

6 – Make yourself accountable

Sometimes we just forget to read. If it isn’t a habit anymore, it may just slip your mind. So make yourself accountable for reading. Know an avid reader? Tell them what you’re reading. They will ask you about it the next time you talk to them. This will remind you to keep reading.

Or borrow a book from a friend or relative. They will expect you to give the book back. This will help you remember to read it. 

Borrowing a book from a library comes with a deadline and a potential fine. If that’s what you need to keep reading in mind, give it a try.

Once you get into a habit, it will be much easier to keep going.

7 – Read shorter or easier books

Short stories can be read in less than an hour. Novellas can be read in a single session. Middle grade children’s books can often be read in three or four hours. If you are under the impression that kids books aren’t read by adults, I can assure you, that’s not the case. There are some fabulous authors who write for children. And are enjoyed by readers of all ages.

Finishing a book is rewarding. So start books you will be able to finish.

8 – Be mindful

When you’ve had a tough day, you may be tempted to scroll through your social media feeds, or surf some TV channels. But those activities are really just wasting time. Keep a book by the sofa or armchair. If you notice yourself doing things that don’t engage your mind, there will be an alternative choice in easy reach.

9 – Find your quiet

When there are distractions competing for your attention, reading won’t be as enjoyable. Work with your environment and grab a quiet moment when you can.

Sometimes you might need to get out of the house or office to find peace and quiet. It can be a good idea to keep a book in a bag, ready to travel.

Speaking of travel, going on holiday is a great way to get through a book or two. Even if you can’t read most of the time. Holiday reading is total escapism. So don’t forget to pack some books!

10 – Read again

I understand, at some points in life, you may be really pushed for time. You pick up a book you’ve started, and find you have forgotten what you had read last time! You can make it easier on yourself by reading something you’re already familiar with.  

Got a book you loved? Why not read it again? You might even notice something you missed the first time.

This is a great thing about book series, too. You may not know the story in subsequent books. But you already know the characters from the first book. This leaves more space in an overcrowded brain to follow the plot.

Don’t have a problem fitting books in?

For those of you already managing your reading time brilliantly – congratulations! I mean that, it’s not always easy. You might want to save these tips for later, just in case. 

For anyone with time but no motivation to read books right now, my post – The Book Slump Club might help.

Enjoyed this post?

You might also like To All the Books I’ve Loved Before.

Why not check out my travel mystery series on Amazon. Or follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads or Bookbub.

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