As long-time blog readers know, I love to read. And this past year, I’ve been seeking to make reading more of a priority. In fact, I set a personal goal to read at least 125 books by the end of the year. (I’ve read 75 books so far, not counting the books I’ve read aloud to the children or my daily Bible reading!)
Reading 125 books in a year might seem extremely ambitious and utterly impossible to some of you — and that’s totally understandable as I’m a quick reader and reading is something that I do instead of many other hobbies. I’m also at a season of life where I have more time to read than I did a few years ago when I was doing good to read 2-3 books per month, if that!
Others of you, like Martha, couldn’t imagine only reading 125 books in one year. She’s a huge inspiration to me when it comes to reading voraciously. Get this, she’s already read 208 books in 2012 alone!
For those of you who don’t read much at all right now, can I encourage you to make reading more of a priority — even if it’s just a few pages of a book each week? Here are two reasons I think everyone should make reading a priority in their lives:
1) Good Books Challenge Your Mind
While I think it’s wonderful to let yourself relax on a regular basis, if all you ever feed your brain is entertainment, it can turn somewhat “mush-y”. Now if you’re in law school or med school or have some sort of mentally intensive job, you probably don’t have any issue with this. But if you don’t have very regular opportunities to sharpen your thinking skills, reading good books is a great way to do so.
I’m an analytical person by nature and am always questioning the reason behind why something is right or true. I never take anything at face value, as my friends well know.
So that’s why I love good books. They make me step back and reconsider long-held positions, they make me examine things in a different light, and they help me further solidify what I believe and why I believe it.
2) Good Books Change Your Perspective
You might not be an analytical person and you might think that my number one reason for reading good books above is a little on the whack-o side. If that’s the case, that’s okay, I accept that I might just be a bit eccentric in some areas ;). Hang with me here, though, because reading good books isn’t just for the mental exercise.
One of the other excellent reasons to become a reader is because good books open up worlds to you that you might never experience yourself. Reading biographies about single moms and parents of children with disabilities or long-term illnesses helps me to have a deeper understanding of their struggles and trials so I can better reach out to them. Reading books on different cultures and time periods has helped me get a better grasp on history and has made me appreciate so much of the modern conveniences and freedoms we have that many others never experienced.
Books have changed me, challenged me, and shaped me as a person. And they are constantly motivating me as a wife, mother, friend, business woman, writer, and thinker.
The books I’ve read have encouraged me to deepen my relationship with the Lord, helped me learn new concepts, spurred me on to develop more character and leadership skills, exemplified to me creative ways of presenting concepts and communicating points, and have pushed me to think “outside the box”.
Now, you might be thinking, “Of course, I know that it’s good to read books, but I can’t seem to find the time! I’m just trying to figure out how to get food on the table and the dishes washed.” Well, here are five ideas that may or may not work for you:
5 Ways to Fit Some Extra Reading Into Your Everyday Life
1) Read First Thing in the Morning — Before you turn on the TV or the computer, challenge yourself to read a chapter from a book. I’m amazed at how quickly I go through books just by making reading a part of my morning routine.
Note: I recommend reading non-fiction books in the morning. If you’re like me and quickly get sucked into a great biography or fiction book, you might want to save those until after dinner. Otherwise, you might start with a chapter and then end up realizing it’s lunchtime and you’re two chapters away from finishing your book!
2) Read While You’re Exercising — I run on the treadmill almost every day, so I use my 5-minute walking warm-up to read. You can also read while stair-climbing or doing the elliptical, ask me how I know!
Note: If you typically work out at the gym or walk outside, you might want to skip this tip as you may get some weird looks at the gym or might run into something if you usually walk outdoors!
3) Read During Commercial Breaks — If you aren’t ready to ditch the TV habit and you don’t have TiVo, consider making a habit to pick up a book during every commercial break. I did this some while we were watching the Olympics and got through a number of chapters just by reading a few pages at a time during commercial breaks.
4) Always Have a Book Going on Your Phone or iPod or E-reader — With the abundance of free book downloads available, there’s no excuse for not having a book handy in your purse at all times — provided you have the technology! I download quite a few of the free ebooks and slowly work my way through them during those unexpected wait times that pop up during the course of the week.
5) Listen to Audiobooks — You can’t talk about creative ways to fit reading in without mentioning audiobooks! I’ve grown to really appreciate audiobooks over the past year.
I usually download 1-2 audiobooks per month onto my phone and try to listen to 10 minutes or so per day — usually while I’m cooking, cleaning, driving, or running. There are hundreds of free audiobooks available in public domain or you can also check your library to see what audiobooks they offer online for free. While not as handy as downloads, many libraries also offer books on CD that work great for traveling or those of you who have regular commutes.
For more ideas of ways I find time to read, be sure to check out my post on How I Find Time to Read. You might also want to check out my post on How I Choose the Books I Read and Recommended Chapter Books for Children.