Few pleasures in life are as sublime as tucking into a great book on a cold winter’s night. But while some of us wish we had more time to read on a regular basis, others are making that time, come hell or high water. One such bookworm is Linda Nguyen, the blogger behind Curious Notions, who’s made a reading pledge to herself every year since 2008. Her goals have gotten loftier as time’s gone by, and since 2012, she’s been reading 50 — yes, 50 — books each year. Scroll on for Linda’s five tips for turning more pages of your own this year.
1. Make Dates With Yourself
Linda’s number one rule for sticking with her 50-books-per-year plan is a simple one: Make time for it. “Schedule the time,” she says. “Put it in your calendar. Relationship therapists sometimes suggest couples who have lost their passion for sex literally make the time for it and block it out on the calendar. I say do that with reading time!” And whether you read in big chunks or little patches is totally up to you. “I strive to do a few pages a day,” she says, but stresses that whatever works best for you is the way to roll.
If spare pockets of time are hard to come by, she says it’s easier than you might think to sneak quite a few pages in on most days. “Carry a book with you and while you’re waiting for appointments, instead of scrolling through newsfeeds on your phone, crack open that book,” she offers. “If you don’t want to carry the book, download the Kindle app and read from your phone!
2. Embrace Technology and Your Library Card
Among avid readers, there are generally two camps: paper book lovers and e-reading enthusiasts. But sometimes it helps to cross the aisle for the sake of saving money and staying versatile. “I used to resist e-books because I love the feel of physical books in my hands,” Linda says. “I love admiring piles of books and bookshelves. Someone gifted me a Kindle and I started to use that when I travel so I can pack light. I’ve grown to really love the ease of e-books. If I want to read something new right away, I don’t have to wait for shipping or get in my car to drive to the library!”
When it comes to staying within a budget (after all, books can get expensive), Linda starts at the library. “I have an order of operations when it comes to attaining my books. I check if the library has the book I want to read as an e-book first, then I check the library. Then I check used book stores, followed by Amazon. I price compare Kindle versions and hard copies. If the difference is less than a dollar, I go with book-book. Does this make me neurotic?” (Survey says: Nope! Just thrifty and worth emulating.)
3. Find Your Tribe
“I’ve heard that you are a composite of your closet friends and people you hang out with the most,” Linda says. “So hang out with people who are readers! Most of my closest friends are. Hanging out with readers might just influence you enough to open a book more often.” She also stresses talking to people about books since it’s a great way to connect with one another and discover great reads. And whether or not you tend to hang out with bookworms, she says Goodreads is a fantastic resource, both to see what other people (including your friends) are reading and to help you keep track of your goals.
4. Know Your Limits
While 50 is an awesome number to claim, you don’t have to start there, or even end up there. “I noticed in 2008 that I wasn’t making the time to read books, even though I love reading,” Linda explains. “I’ve always been so goal-oriented and I knew if I committed to a measurable goal, I’d be more likely to do it! So that year, I resolved to read 10 books. I read the 10 easily, and in 2009, I increased my goal to 20 and met that goal too. I upped the yearly goal by 10 each year until I reached 50 in 2012 and found that to be my sweet spot… any more than that would be setting myself up to fail, and anything less than that wouldn’t be a challenge.” And if your schedule’s just plain packed already? “Maybe you don’t have time to read 50 books a year,” Linda acknowledges. “But how about five?”
5. Don’t Give Up
Nobody’s perfect, of course, and even Linda admits to getting behind schedule from time to time. “I strive to do a few pages a day, though I’m off to a bad start this January!” she admits. “I am a procrastinator by nature, so I’m often about 10-15 books short of 50 by the beginning of December. This past (year), I was 14 books short, so I would schedule long stretches. I’d set the timer for an hour and read, and if I got sucked in, I would read past the hour. When I used to take a lunch at work, I’d have that as my scheduled reading time. I also keep books everywhere. So typically I have a book at home to read, a book in the car in case I get stuck somewhere and a book in my purse.”
And what if a not-so-great book makes you lose your momentum? Linda says there’s no shame in putting it down and moving on to another. “If you don’t enjoy the book,” she says, “stop reading and hop on to something else that grabs you!”
Most of all, she stresses that it’s important to know yourself, set your sights on something that’s attainable, and put safeguards in place to keep you on track. “What gets you to do anything?” she asks. “For me, I’m goal oriented and it bugs me if I fall short on any of my goals. So by making it a goal, I was more likely to commit. If you’re motivated by social accountability, then maybe have a book-reading buddy. Try to either start a book club or join an existing one. Notice when you have pockets of free time and prepare by having a book on hand.” And last but not least: “Edit your limiting thoughts,” she says. “People often tell me they don’t have time to read, (but) there’s a difference between not having time and not making time.”
Do you have a reading goal for the year? Tweet us about it at @BritandCo!
(Photos via Curious Notions)