Is your New Year’s Resolution to read more? Reading increases focus and concentration while lowering stress, but finding the time and energy can be difficult. Whether you’re just starting or have already built up the habit, there are ways to achieve your goals.
So, in the spirit of the new year, here are four things you can do to become a better reader:
1. Set Goals
Setting goals is a great way to find motivation, measure progress, and pace yourself. Of course, this only works if the goals you set are reasonable.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How much time can you afford to set aside to read?
- What do you want to get out of reading?
- What are you interested in reading?
Maybe you start small and read ten minutes a day, or plan to finish three chapters of a book by the end of the week. Then, as time and personal obligations allow, gradually increase this amount.
As you do, make sure to keep a journal logging your accomplishments. You can make this fun by posting reviews of your books on social media or tracking your progress with a reading community like Goodreads. Either way, don’t forget to look back and congratulate yourself on how far you’ve come.
2. Start with Fast-Paced Books
Some books are easier to get into, and some are quicker to read. The words, “page-turner” came from authors like James Patterson and Blake Crouch, who write quick, concise sentences that propel you along the story. If you struggle to sit still for long periods of time, this might be a good place to start.
No matter what genre you choose, one common mistake aspiring readers make is choosing a book that they just aren’t interested in. If you don’t like fantasy, you’ll never be able to read The Hobbit. If you don’t like suspense, you won’t finish The Woman in Cabin 10. On the other hand, if it’s a subject you like, you might find yourself unable to put it down.
3. Take Notes and Highlight
There are heated debates between readers over whether or not a book should be written in, but there are also studies showing that annotating something helps you retain its information. When you sit down to read, try bringing a pen or a highlighter. If the book isn’t yours or you don’t want to write in it, bring sticky notes or a notebook as well.
Look for main themes, new words, descriptive language, motifs, or any quotes you might want to look at later. These topics aren’t just for school—they can help you find understanding and enjoyment out of reading, too.
4. Try Audiobooks
Do you not have time to sit down with a book? You’ve probably heard this suggestion a million times, but I’m here to be that million-and-first voice. Audiobooks are a great way to get the experience of reading when you need to be hands-free or multitasking.
You can get a library or Audible app on your phone, pop in some headphones, and listen to a book while you clean. Or, if you have a long commute, you can play the book over your speakers when you drive. While you might prefer the feel of a physical copy, you may find you enjoy a certain narrator or style.
Find Your Support Group
This is crucial. The beautiful thing about the literary industry is that there is an abundance of authors looking to build up and support their fellow authors. Find a group you mesh with, whether online or in person. Share your goals and let them encourage you.
If you’re able, pick someone you trust and ask them to hold you accountable. Make sure it is someone who will be sure to remind you about your writing, and that they’re someone who supports you wholly. This person is your cheerleader and, in a way, your soccer mom.
Remember: Don’t give up
Even if you miss a few days or fall behind, reading isn’t meant to be stressful. Focus on finding enjoyment and building consistent habits and you’ll be a bookstore regular in no time.