I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.
My word for this year is FULFILL. I’ve made it my mantra in those times when I otherwise would have said, “I’ll get to that later.” Big task or small task, been on my list from this morning or from a year ago, I just need to get it done.
When the year started, I gave myself a goal to read one book per month. Just one. I figured, hey, a whole month to finish a book? No sweat. Well, May came around and because of a very busy time at work, very little time left and feeling very drained (in other words, I didn’t make the effort) I realized I hadn’t finished reading one single book thus far. Not even just one.
That’s when I realized that even though I read for fun and pleasure, I had to give myself a more structured task. I could still meet my goal, but it meant I had to give myself hard deadlines: three books in May and three books in June would get me back on track. So I treated it almost like a homework assignment or project for a class. But with some shortcuts. I would start a new book each month, but I would finish two more that I had started and never finished. It felt like a more realistic goal I could accomplish.
By June 3rd, I had finished my first three books! I was so happy and felt elated to reach my first milestone within the challenge. It’s barely the first full week of June and I’m one day-of-reading away from finishing my fourth book. I think that’s more than I read finished in 2016! And I have my next set of books lined up to read next. Hooray!
So what worked this time around?
• I started off small with the challenge within a challenge—read just fifteen minutes each day, or read a certain amount of chapters each night.
• I started adding in some morning time reading, as well. I could spend ten minutes less doing something else to make time to read a little in the morning.
• I stopped going on social media as much as I used to so that those 45 minutes of mindless wandering around sites turned into maybe 15 minutes, and 30 minutes of reading.
• I tried to keep my phone in another room from where I was reading. Out of sight, out of mind.
I allowed myself have that reading time guilt-free. Dishes in the sink could wait. Going over lists would have to happen later. Sending out an email could be done the next morning. I was respectful of the dedication I was placing on reading.
• I watched my TV shows after I had read for a bit. That, in turn, made TV-watching guilt free.
• I started to pick favorite places to read in the house: the living room, our cozy chair in our bedroom, a patio chair outside, a lounge chair by our community pool. I’ve hardly done any reading in bed because it makes me very sleepy. But when I can stay awake, it’s also a favorite reading spot.
• Those days/nights when I just wasn’t as thrilled to pick up a book? I’ve allowed myself the time away from reading so I don’t push myself into resenting it. It’s a pleasurable activity after all. But I did make up for it by either reading a bit more the following day or reading an extra chapter in my book.
List of Books: I’ve been keeping a reading list in the notes section on my phone. I used to keep it in a notebook at home but this allows me to add a book right then and there. And the list is growing.
What Should I Read Next podcast: I love this podcast. It’s wonderful to listen to people who are so passionate and dedicated to reading. But it’s also very dangerous because the book recommendations are never-ending and it’s one of the main reasons my reading list keeps growing.
Goodreads: I just joined the website for the sole purpose of having a fun way to track what I’m reading, what I’ve read and what is on my reading wish list. I’m using it in a very basic manner right now but I can’t wait to explore and play around on the site a bit more.
Book subscription: My goal is to one day join the Book of the Month club. How fun to get a new book mailed to me every month. I’ve also heard Parnassus’ Book Club is wonderful, though a bit pricier. But the books are packaged in beautiful drawstring bags. How can you pass that up?!
The Public Library: Once I’ve delved deeper into finishing the books I already own, I would like to check out a book or two each month, especially for those books I may not need to own or I’m a bit “iffy” about. I’d rather save my money for those books I know I want to keep in my personal library. And checking out e-books from the library is a big draw, as well.
As with any challenge, the goal is to start small and in realistic quantities. But the key is to just start. If it’s a priority, you’ll make the time to do it even in small batches. I can’t begin to explain how wonderful it’s been to read again on a more regular basis. And my reading time has increased from 15 minutes per day to usually about 45 minutes to an hour. I can’t wait to read. I make the time to read. And I absolutely love getting lost in a book. And the feeling of accomplishment when I’ve finished a book is so great.
It’s become such a quickly developed habit that I think I’ll easily meet my goal this year and maybe surpass it. But the main thing is that I’ve brought reading back into my life and I love it!
A house without books is like a room without windows.