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I’ve always loved reading. But it seems like the older I get, the less time I have to devote to my favorite thing. Between working, sleeping, and trying to have some semblance of a social life, when I do get free time the only thing I have the energy for is vegging out on the couch. But constantly looking at all of the unread books filling my shelves was making me feel kind of bad about myself. I mean, I was an English major after all—how could I let myself stray so far from my passion?
So I decided to make a change—and I’ve been consistently reading about one book per week ever since. I’m not saying you have to give up your favorite TV shows to make time for reading; I certainly didn’t. You just have to purposefully create the time and the space where reading can become a natural, relaxing part of your every day.
Step 1: Create Your Own Little Cozy Corner of the World
First of all, you have to have a place for reading. If you don’t have one, then you need to make one. Whether that means fixing up your home office or simply investing in a bath caddy and some candles for your bathtub, you just have to make sure it’s a place where you feel comfortable and calm. And, ideally, this needs to be a space away from the TV—it’s way too easy (and tempting) to just turn it on and binge-watch the latest season of Orange is the New Black. And then three hours later, you realize you only read a paragraph.
My personal favorite spots for reading are in the bathtub and in my sunroom. I have an oversized chair that is right in-between two huge windows looking out over my yard and the woods behind my house. It’s peaceful no matter what time of day it is.
But your “reading spot” doesn’t have to be inside your home. Maybe your spot is under a tree in your favorite park, or maybe it’s the comfy couch inside your local coffee shop. It doesn’t matter where it is, it just matters how it makes you feel. If it gives you the warm and fuzzies and is free from distractions, it’s a good spot for reading.
Step 2: Get Some Books
This sounds simple, but it’s actually the hardest step on this list. With literal millions of books to choose from, it can seem impossible to narrow it down to the ones you would actually enjoy. Discovering new books to read was something I took for granted while I was still in school because I always had no shortage of recommendations—but once you’re out of that environment, it can be difficult to find that next book to get lost in. You don’t want to waste your precious reading time starting book after boring book and never making it past the first 50 pages.
One of the best ways to remedy this is by signing up for a book subscription box, like Book of the Month. If you’re a subscriber, each month you get to choose between five book recommendations from their panel of judges. BOTM always includes a variety of genres, so whether you prefer reading psychological thrillers or nonfiction memoirs, there is always something for everyone.
If you don’t want to spend the money on a subscription box, or if you prefer reading your books digitally (you monster), then another solution is to join a book club. Or download the Goodreads app, where you can see recommendations based on books you’ve read and enjoyed, as well as see detailed reviews of any book you might be interested in. If you have a Kindle, Amazon’s book page gives you lots of books lists to find some inspiration, from the best-selling books of all time to award-winning books to the books that currently have the best deals.
Social media is another great way to discover books. I follow some accounts on Instagram that focus solely on reviewing the latest books—so if you find someone whose recommendations you trust, follow them! There are also some bookish podcasts you can subscribe to, like All the Books and What Should I Read Next.
Step 3: Make the Time
The bottom line is if you have a book you’re excited about reading, then you will want to make the time to read it. But even though I would be okay with keeping my nose in a book everywhere I went, there is still a time and place for reading. It’s probably not a great idea to pull your book out while you’re at dinner with your family, or while you’re sitting at your desk at work. But if you don’t have any free time specifically devoted to reading, you’re going to want to take every chance you get.
I used to try to read every night before I went to sleep. The problem with this was that I never made it further than a few pages before I passed out—usually with the book still in my hand and my glasses still on my face. So instead, I started waking up early on Saturday and Sunday mornings and spending at least an hour by myself in my sunroom, drinking coffee, reading, and watching the world wake up. It’s an incredibly relaxing way to start my day, and it gives me enough time to devote to my current book that I can spend the rest of my day doing other things, like spending time with my family or cleaning my house.
Sometimes, if I’m in the middle of a really great book, I’ll do the same thing for an hour or two after I get home from work—except I’ll run myself a bath instead of sitting in the sunroom and I’ll trade my coffee for a glass of wine. Once again, this works great for me because it gives me a chance to unwind after work, but I still have plenty of time to cook dinner and do something fun with my boyfriend once he gets home.
The trick is to figure out which parts of your day are usually wasted and take advantage of them. In my case, I was sleeping in way too long on the weekends and when I got home from work I was just collapsing on the couch and watching TV until it was time for bed—both of which weren’t adding any value to my life. But now that I feel like that time is well spent, I feel more productive and relaxed at the same time.