6 Tips to Reach Your Yearly Reading Goals

This week, I finished the 32nd book that I’ve read so far this year. My overall goal is to read at least 40 books in 2018 and I’m not entirely sure I’m going to hit that landmark, but at least I’ll come close. I was talking to my Mom about my reading habits and she was astounded that I’ve managed to devour that many titles. With my work schedule, dedication to the gym, and social calendar, she was shocked I was able to find the time to read. To be fair, I used to be skeptical too. But here’s a list of tips I’ve personally assembled:

1) Resist burn-out by constantly shaking up the type of books that you’re reading.

Up until recently, I primarily read fantasy and science fiction novels. I love reading about new worlds and find those genres to be a great escape from everyday life. However, a while back, I was browsing through titles in the bookstore and found that nothing was really grabbing my attention. I thought I was getting bored of reading and resolved to take a break until a friend insisted that I read Amy Poehler’s autobiography – especially since I’d just finished watching “Parks and Rec.” The book was grounded, witty, and entertaining… and I wondered to myself why I hadn’t read it sooner.

I went into an autobiography frenzy, reading everything I could find from my favorite comedians, burning through a handful of books within a few weeks. The problem, I realized, wasn’t that I was bored of reading. I was just in a reading rut. I ventured out of my typical comfort zone and was reinvigorated! Now, every time I find myself getting a little bored or reluctant to read, I’ll pick a random book that’s well out of my normal reading wheelhouse and it’s usually the perfect antidote to impending book burnout.

2) Embrace the e-book.

E-books make reading extremely portable and convenient. Look, I love reading physical books. There’s nothing more satisfying than toting around a good book and watching my progress as I read my way towards the back cover. And the smell – oh, the smell of a new book is like none other. But let’s be realistic: e-books are way more convenient, especially when living within the Kindle ecosystem.

I can carry around tons of books on my Kindle or on my phone, syncing seamlessly across all devices so I always know right where I left off. This lets me read during lunch breaks at work, when I’m stuck waiting an hour in the doctor’s office, or even while I’m biking at the gym.

Since I still ultimately prefer physical books, I’ll usually employ a hybrid strategy where I’ll read my physical version at home, and then pick up on my digital version when I’m out and about (takes a little more time to “sync up” but well worth it to me). Sometimes its jarring to squeeze in 5 minutes of a novel here and there, I get it – so I don’t really do that. But it’s definitely nice to know I’m never stuck without a book when I find myself with a good chunk of time to kill. It beats scrolling through the same old memes and it’s a bit more productive to boot.

3) Don’t forget about the local library.

You probably just read about my hybrid reading strategy and you may have thought “I’m not made of money. I can’t afford to buy two copies of each book.” Well, let me stop you right there – neither can I. Instead, I’m a frequent visitor of my local library.

Luckily, my library has both physical branches and an Overdrive library. If you haven’t heard of Overdrive before, it’s a system through which libraries purchase rights to an eBook and you – the patron – can check them out to borrow them on your e-reader. In this way, I’ve successfully been able to check out both physical and electronic versions of a book to employ my hybrid strategy.

Even when I’m reading in one particular format, the library has drastically helped me to cut down on my book budget. I’m able to read pretty much any book for free. If the library doesn’t own the book that I’m looking for, I can put in a request for them to obtain it, and they usually do within the month. It’s fantastic!

The library is also a great resource if I’m not sure what to read next. Much like a bookstore, I can browse the shelves and pick a book at random, with no consequences if I don’t like it or it turns out to be rubbish. I try to do this at least once every other month.

Seriously, support your local library. They’re magical places.

4) It’s OK to take a break for other hobbies.

Not to toot my own horn, but I’m a pretty well-rounded nerd. I like reading, I like to play music, I like to watch movies, and I like to play video games. There’s simply not enough time in a day or even a week to squeeze all these activities in. So sometimes, some hobbies have to take a backseat to others.

When I’m particularly in the mood for gaming, I’ve learned that it’s okay to take a break from reading. I used to feel guilty about setting something down, but honestly… life is too short! You have to enjoy what you’re doing in the moment. If you don’t, you’ll just be slogging through a book wishing you were playing or watching something else. Unless it’s some kind of homework, why would you put yourself through that angst, especially when hobbies are supposed to be fun? Plus, alternating activities helps to prevent burn out, too.

5) Don’t hold yourself prisoner to a boring book.

I recently read some glowing reviews for a novel called “Gnomon.” It was hailed as one of the best science fiction books of the year, so I made the trek to the library and checked out the whopping 688-page beast of a book. I sat down to read it and was initially intrigued by the world and the setup. Unfortunately, at some point the novel juked left and I turned right, and it just kind of lost my interest.

I stuck with it for a bit longer but ended up setting it down at around the 250 page mark. Now, this isn’t a review of the book and you may very well enjoy it; I simply did not. It wasn’t for me, and I wasn’t having any fun with it. I was actually avoiding reading in general because I felt compelled to chip away at the book, and I really didn’t want to. At this point in my life, I read to get some semblance of enjoyment or betterment, and this tome just wasn’t cutting it for me – so I, in turn, cut my losses.

Look, as I’ve already said: life is short. There’s not enough time in life to waste away reading (or avoiding) something just because you think you ought to finish it. There are millions of books out there in the world that you might connect with, so why not read one of those?

6) Forget the backlog. Just go with the flow.

I used to be an avid browser of Goodreads. I would check up on my recommendations and what my friends had been reading, adding anything of interest to my “To Be Read” list. Well, I quickly racked up a “TBR” list of over 500 books and it was really overwhelming. Every time I would finish a book, I’d consult the list and just end up scrolling for days, paralyzed by the number of options but not really interested in selecting one. My list felt like a chore, with reading a mere task I had to get through.

I’ve since stopped this habit – though I haven’t deleted Goodreads entirely, now I only use the service to log and review books. I’ve recognized that I’m one of those people who needs to organically find a book that suits my mood when I’m ready. I’ve found that selecting books more at random, instead of moving through a list, removes any sense of obligation or drudgery when it comes to reading. I enjoy the freeing nature of random book selection, and it helps me to appreciate and progress through books more readily.

I know this list got a bit long-winded, but if you’ve stuck around ‘til the end I’m glad you’re still here. What tactics do you employ that help you read more often throughout the year? What stops you from getting book burnout? Drop a line in the comments or on Instagram, let me know what you’ve been reading, and get the conversation started! Maybe you can help me find my next organic read!

Feature photo by Christin Hume @ Unsplash
Library photo by Chuttersnap @ Unsplash

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