Please join me in welcoming guest blogger, Jamie Raintree.
Recent studies have shown that nearly half of Americans have not read a book in the last year. More than that, about a third of Americans will never read a single book after graduating from high school. As a certified book-aholic, this blows my mind. I’m an avid reader, myself, but I do have many friends who have every intention of reading books, they just don’t get around to it. They’re often too busy, or maybe when they do have downtime, they choose other forms of entertainment. With all the seasons of Friends out on Netflix, I’m guilty of this lately too!
But reading is still one of my favorite pastimes. Walking into a bookstore or library literally makes my heart beat faster with excitement and I can’t help but want to share that passion with others. If reading hasn’t been your thing or if you want to read but have a hard time finding the motivation to grab a book, here are a few of my favorite ways to make reading more fun:
Make a Reading Date. Sometimes the hardest part about reading is finding the time (until, of course, you find a book you must consume immediately when suddenly you find all kinds of time pockets). If you make reading a part of your schedule, though, you’ll be surprised how many books you can read in a year. I recommend every night before bed, but a Sunday afternoon is lovely too.
Include Your Family. If, like me, your biggest time struggle is because of family commitments, include your family! My husband isn’t much of a reader, but on long trips, he loves to hear me read Harry Potter to him. We’ve also bought the audiobooks of The Hunger Games Series. Now that my daughters are getting older, I enjoy reading them the Nancy Clancy books, but sometimes I’ll even read my books to them. They don’t understand much but the great part about young kids is that they just want to hang out with mom.
Include a Beverage. Coffee, tea, wine–whatever your poison is. But it’s not just about the beverage. It’s about making reading romantic! When you’re curled up in your favorite spot, with your favorite blanket, your favorite drink, and your favorite characters, how could you not enjoy it?
Read in Your Favorite Place. Pretty much every beautiful place I visit, I think, this would be an amazing place to read a book. It’s not about distracting myself from the beauty, it’s about enhancing it. Don’t limit yourself to your bed. Try the park on a warm day, a coffee shop, the hammock in your backyard, or the bathtub.
Stop Forcing Yourself to Finish/Start Books You Don’t Like. I used to feel insanely guilty if I started a book and didn’t finish it. I don’t know exactly why. Maybe it’s because we’re taught as kids to finish what we start. But when I did that, I read significantly fewer books in a year. It would take me months to finish just one. Now I only read what I enjoy–not even picking up something that doesn’t sounds like something I’d like–and I usually average a book a week. There are just too many books to read to spend too much time on one that’s not for you.
Ask for Recommendations. When I turned 18 and moved out of my parents’ house, I lost touch with one of my favorite neighbors I’d grown up playing with. Recently I’ve reconnected with her and she’s become an avid reader of one of my favorite genres. Now we send each other recommendations all the time and it’s a fun way to stay in touch. Plus, since she has similar taste, I’m never short on ideas for books I’ll love. It makes the culling process that much easier.
Join Goodreads. It may be because it’s combining two of my favorite things–books and technology–but I love Goodreads. I enjoy keeping up on what my friends are reading, especially the friends who have very similar tastes to mine, because when they give a book 5 stars, I automatically know to add it to my to-read list. It’s a great way to find new books and to gush about your favorite characters. Plus, is there anything more satisfying than marking a book completed? I think not.
There are many known benefits for fostering a reading habit, like better sleeping habits, more empathy, better retention of knowledge, and less incidences of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. My favorite benefit, though, is that it makes the days more enjoyable. Each new book is a new adventure, with new secrets to uncover and new worlds to explore. Whether you’re an avid reader or it’s been a while, I hope you’ll try some of these tips to enjoy reading even more.
Jamie Raintree writes women’s fiction about women searching for truth in life and love. She is currently working on revisions of her first novel in preparation for submission to publishers. In the meantime, she blogs about her journey toward a well-balanced life and a career in publishing–her struggles and successes along the way. She lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and two young daughters and is a Workshop Coordinator for the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Subscribe to her newsletter for more blogs, book news, and writer tools and other free downloads for dreamers. To find out more, visit her website below.