Half of American adults read less than 5 books in the past year, according to the Pew Research Center. When it comes to literature, consumption has fallen to a 30 year low. The National Endowment for the Arts says only 43% of adults read even a single novel, story, poem, or play in 2015.
Maybe you want to read more, but one thing or another keeps getting in the way. If you’re going to boost your record, it’s important to do more than wait around for vacations or sick days to catch up.
Try following this recipe for consuming bigger portions of the written word.
Make Reading Interesting
1. Follow your passions. There are books on every subject. Start with something you love, whether it’s quantum physics or old movies.
2. Expand your options. Are you feeling guilty about the bestseller that’s been sitting on your nightstand since last Christmas? Keep a variety of fresh reading material around to stimulate your curiosity.
3. Know when to quit. If you’re bored with one title, move on. Stay engaged by reading only what you care about.
Make Reading Social
1. Share lists. Does a local shop have a section for staff recommendations? Create your own suggestions to share with family and friends.
2. Lend and borrow. How about sharing the books while you’re at it? Reading will be more pleasurable when you can look forward to discussing your reactions with others. You may learn more about yourself and your loved ones.
3. Post reviews. Sites like Amazon and Goodreads make it easy to voice your opinions about any author and their works. You may find that you read more carefully when you know you’re going to report on what you think.
4. Join a club. Reading doesn’t have to be solitary. Look on Meetup for a book club near you or start one of your own.
Make Reading Convenient
1. Fill in gaps. If it’s difficult to carve out a full free hour, read when you can. That could include the time you spend on hold or standing in line for groceries.
2. Carry supplies. Put a paperback or magazine in your tote bag, so you can take it along with you wherever you go, or keep your e-reader handy. Stash some books in your office, car, and kitchen.
3. Install shelves. How many bookshelves do you have at home? Having your books visible and accessible will make you want to read more.
4. Plan ahead. While it pays to incorporate reading into your daily routine, you can also take advantage of opportunities to dive deeper into great works. When you’re recovering from surgery or taking an international flight, you can use the time to brush up on Russian poetry or Greek art.
5. Keep it brief. On the other hand, if you’re swamped, you can still squeeze in some essays and short stories. Do what works for you.
6. Choose your format. E-readers and traditional books both have their advocates. Experiment with whatever options are most comfortable for you. You may even find that you like both approaches, depending on the subject matter or time of day.
7. Renew your library card. How long has it been since you visited your local library? Unlike most hobbies, reading can be totally free of charge.
Grow wiser and have fun by reading more books. Reading sharpens your thinking, reduces your stress levels, and helps you to feel more connected to the world around you. The next time you’re watching TV or checking your Facebook page, consider picking up a book instead.