13 ways to increase the quantity and quality of your reading

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

I had a hard time transitioning back into being a reader after college and grad school. When you're forced to read for so long, you forget how enjoyable it can be! So it's only been in the last few years that I've become a reader again. I'm slowly increasing the quantity of my reading but I don't want to read more for the sake of reading more; I want to read more GOOD books. Here are some of the ways I've been able to increase both quantity AND quality of my reading!

1. Make reading as convenient as possible. This means that while I do LOVE holding a big hardcover book, I now do a good portion of my reading on my Kindle Paperwhite and using the Kindle app on my iPhone. I also read in different formats depending on where I am and what I'm doing:

    >> I typically read hardcover or paperback books when I'm at home on the couch or in bed.

    >> It takes me a really long time to dry my hair in the mornings, so I always read an eBook on my Kindle or on my phone.

    >> When I'm putting on makeup or straightening my hair, I often listen to audiobooks. I also listen to audiobooks when I'm driving, cooking, and doing laundry. (All times when I am doing something relatively mindless, but can't hold an actual book.)

2. Set a reading goal and track my reading. I have found that I'm much more motivated to read when I can give myself credit for doing it! For this year, my reading goal is to read four books per month, so 48 books total. I'm tracking those books in Goodreads and here on my blog. I have also tracked my reading in a bullet journal in the past. Anything that makes you feel like you accomplished something can be motivating.

3. Subscribe to the Modern Mrs. Darcy E-Book Deals. I have bought SO many Kindle books for less than $3 after being alerted to sales in this newsletter! The email comes every morning and includes a curated list of 10-15 eBooks that are typically between $1-5. There are sometimes audiobook deals as well. I get so excited to open this email every morning. It's so great is because it's not just a list of random deals; it's Anne's carefully selected recommendations. You can also just visit this page on her website if you don't want another email coming to your inbox.

4. Set up an Amazon wish list for books. I have an Amazon wish list with 200+ books on it (mostly Kindle editions). This is essential to ensuring I remember what books I want to read and WHY I want to read them, and it also helps me get books at the best prices. Here's how:

    >> When I hear about a book I want to read, I immediately search for it on Amazon and add it to my wish list.

    >> I assign "high" priority to books on my wish list that I am really excited about reading.

    >> I add a note in my wish list explaining where I heard about it, who recommended it, and why it sounded good to me.

    >> I have a reminder to check my Amazon book wish list EVERY morning and sort it by price, low to high. It's a super quick way to see if any books I want have dropped in price. As a rule, I buy them when they drop below $3! You'll be shocked at how often this happens, even with newer releases.

5. Find great in-person book deals. Here are some of my favorite ways to get deals on physical books:

    >> 2nd & Charles - This is a secondhand bookstore chain owned by Books-A-Million. It is HUGE and takes a lot of time if you're looking for something specific but we love to just browse the shelves for cheap paperbacks and hardcovers. They are typically VERY gently used and great prices. We've also sold books and movies there and always keep the store credit so we can get more books. :)

    >> Ollie's Bargain Outlet - A brand new find for me thanks to an Instagram story from Jamie Golden of The Popcast. This is a bargain store with a HUGE book selection. I could not believe how cheap recent releases were! I got three of the books above for $9 total. (Magic and Loss was $4, My Name Is Lucy Barton was $3, and Saint Anything was $2!)

    >> Barnes & Noble - I don't love B&N prices in general, but the clearance section makes it worth the visit!

6. Go to the library OR use an app to read library books for free! We love our local library, but to I use the Overdrive app much more often than we actually visit the library. This app is linked to our library, and we can check out eBooks AND audiobooks (for free) from our library with the app on our phones. There's typically a waitlist for newer books, but once you've put a few books on hold, you only need one to become available at a time.

7. Read a book blog or listen to a book podcast. I find the majority of the books I read from blogs or podcasts. Here are some I really enjoy:

    >> Modern Mrs. Darcy - My very very favorite book blog. Try Unputdownable: 17 books I read in 24 hours or less (because they were just that good) or 17 books everyone will be talking about this summer. Her annual summer reading guide is my favorite thing!

    >> What Should I Read Next - Anne from Modern Mrs. Darcy has a podcast, which continues to be a must-listen and the source of so many fantastic book recommendations!

    >> The Popcast - Although not a book podcast, they frequently recommend books and I've loved their recommendations. Here is their list of "green light" books.

    >> Laura Tremaine - I just love everything Laura does. She has the best taste in books and I always look forward to hearing what she's been enjoying lately! Laura doesn't blog anymore (here's an old book post) but I HIGHLY recommend her Secret Posts newsletter that always comes with great recommendations (for books and all kinds of other things!). She also hosts a fantastic podcast called Smartest Person in the Room and has done a couple of book episodes.

    >> Sarah Bessey - An incredible author herself, Sarah always has great recommendations for both kids and adults.

    >> Everyday Reading - Love this blog with lots of good book recommendations.

8. Organize my eBooks. I am not overly impressed with the organization features on my Kindle, but I have developed my own rough way to organize my books so none are forgotten in my large eBook library. I use Collections to categorize each book:

    >> READ - Every book I've already read gets removed from all other categories and added to this category. It's kind of like crossing them off the list. This way it's easy to browse all the other collections for my next book to read.

    >> IN PROGRESS - Just the books I'm currently reading go in this category.

    >> READ NEXT - A category for books I want to read SOON. I visit this category first when looking for a new book to start.

    >> TBR-Fiction - TBR = To Be Read. These are adult fiction books I haven't read yet.

    >> TBR-YA/Children - Young adult or children's fiction books I haven't read yet.

    >> TBR-Memoir/Bio - Memoirs or biographies I haven't read yet.

    >> TBR-Non Fiction - Non fiction books I haven't read yet.

    >> TBR-Christian Non Fiction - Christian non fiction books I haven't read yet. I have so many in this specific category that it needed its own collection.

    >> Everything Else - I use this for books on my Kindle that I don't intend to read anytime soon. These are mostly books my husband has downloaded that aren't of any interest to me. I also have some reference books in here that I might want to look at one day but have no intention of reading cover to cover anytime soon. And there are some classics that I've downloaded for free that I hope maybe I'll read one day.

9. Try a Book of the Month subscription. Not a plug, although I think if you sign up through my link I get a free book. But there are a few things I LOVE about this subscription!

    >> The books I have gotten so far have been EXCELLENT. I have not been disappointed by a single one, and I no longer feel pressure over which one to pick each month because I know they'll all be great. (Some favorites: An American Marriage, Little Fires Everywhere, Sing, Unburied, Sing.)

    >> There are only five books to choose from each month, which helps so much when you are easily overwhelmed by choices (raises hand). I get SO excited on the first of each month to read the synopses of the five books and pick one for the month.

    >> I LOVE getting to read a brand new book right when it comes out (or sometimes even before it's officially released)! I'm always a late adopter of new things (I finally got some Uggs in 2017 - it took me a decade to decide if they are worth the money!) so I feel like this subscription forces me to be ahead of the game.

    >> It's just really fun to get a package every month with a brand new book!

10. Only read books that are recommended by people I trust. I used to read books that just sounded good, or had pretty covers, or that I downloaded for free. But I found that I wasn't always enjoying these books and that was discouraging me from reading. Now I rarely read a book that wasn't recommended to me by at least one person whose taste in reading I trust. There are still books I don't love, but they are fewer and far between now than before. I hate wasting my time on bad books.

11. Read more! Okay, duh. But for me, the more I read, the more I want to read.

12. Don't be afraid to abandon books. If I'm a third of the way through a book and just not into it, I'd much rather abandon it (for now, or sometimes forever) than put off reading because I'm not interested. Abandoning books used to bother me a lot, but now I just move the book to my "Unfinished" shelf in Goodreads, so it's not forgotten. Then I can revisit that shelf later if I'd like to finish anything I previously abandoned.

13. Listen to audiobooks. If you are a slower reader or get distracted easily, an audiobook may be the remedy. My husband loves listening to audiobooks and has found so many good ones through our library on the Overdrive app. I especially love listening to audiobooks narrated by the author (especially if it's a memoir!).


I hope some of these tips will be helpful to you!

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