At the strike of 9pm (I’m too old for the strike of midnight) on New Year’s Eve, I looked at the total number of books I had read in 2019. 107. ONE. HUNDRED. AND. SEVEN. Considering I’d barely gotten over 60 books read last year, I was very impressed with myself. But how did I do it? At the time, I could only stare at you with a still shocked look on my face, but today I’m breaking down how I read over 100 books in 2019, and how I know I can read more in 2020.
First, a few things about me that affect my reading capabilities:
- I work full time (office + commute time =10 hours)
- Run a #bookstagram account (check me out at @somethingofthebook)
- Run this here blog where I write reviews, lists, thought pieces, and participate in book promotions
- Am currently working on writing a novel and flailing in despair over the process of getting published (y’all, it is a very big mountain to climb and I have two bad knees)
- I have zero children and no significant other
- I have a slight TV addiction (I cannot stop watching The Great British Baking Show on repeat. It’s a problem.)
These are the big things that take time from reading for me. Everyone is different, everyone has their own life circumstances, and everyone is going to have different goals. A lot of the ways I worked more reading into my life are things that can be applied to anyone, but not everything is going to work for everyone. I hope you can find some helpful tidbits here to help you smash your reading goals for 2020!
Audiobooks – This is the most important and most difficult one. Audiobooks are not for everyone and I totally get that. I always recommend people try doing a reread of a favorite book via audiobook for their first try. When you have a story you are already familiar with, it helps keep you engaged in the story, but if you zone out a bit you don’t end up totally lost. I actually do a majority of my rereads via audiobook since that doesn’t cut into my physical book reading time. Once you’ve gotten the hang of listening to rereads, start branching out into new books if you feel comfortable. I tend to only do new reads of books I think will be easy to keep track of as I listen (short books, middle grade stories, etc). Audiobooks can be read/listened to at work, commuting, cleaning house, exercising, grocery shopping, etc. There is no end to the possibilities! Think of all that reading time just prime for the taking! Check out audiobook services via Libro.fm (Influencer Link), Audible, Scrib’d, or from your local library!
Novellas – 2019 was the year of the Novella for me! I had never read many because I thought that the story telling wouldn’t be there. How can I get invested in a story that is so short? Oh, how wrong I was. I started with The Armored Saint by Myke Cole and as you can tell from my review, this novella packed one hell of an emotional punch. Tor.Com Publishing has some phenomenal novellas out right now, and many more coming in the future. With most novellas clocking in around 200 or less pages, they are fast reads filled with more emotions than you might imagine. I highly recommend All Systems Red by Martha Wells (first book in the Murderbot Diaries) and This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (from Saga Press).
Create a Reading Nook – One of the hardest things for me is finding space to read in my own home. I live with a roommate, so I have to be respectful of other’s space. I could read in bed, but I’m not a fan of that (I can never find a comfortable reading position!). Luckily, there is a spare room in the house where I have built myself a little reading nest that can stay out all the time (unless we have guests, then I gotta put my nest away). In the spare room I can hide from interruptions and distracting noises and just enjoy my reading. If you don’t have a designated reading area yet, look around your home and try to find one. I know it won’t always be possible, but it’s something to keep searching for.
Finding Your Own Reading Style – Are you a mood reader or TBR enthusist? Do you stick to one book at a time or do you flourish as an agent of chaos with multiple books at once? Do you buddy read or solo read? Or are you some combination of all the above? Really looking at what reading habits work best for you helps keep you on track and happy with your reading. This year I came to realize that even though I liked reading multiple books at once, I could only have one of those be a buddy read. When I had too many buddy reads happening at a time, I found myself not enjoying the process of reading, which in turn slowed down my reading. Going into 2020 I know I am a moody TBR agent of chaos who can only handle one buddy read at a time. What about you?
You have the time, use it! – One of the things I always say about reading is that I never seem to have the time. Well, that is just an excuse. We are all busy, but I bet you could almost always squeeze in a bit of reading time if you really tried. I always read during my work lunch break, which gives me at least 30 minutes a day. Whenever my roommate takes her dog for a walk in the evening, I’ll turn off the TV that we typically watch together, and read while she is gone. Bam! Another 30 minutes! It’s all about really looking at how you spend your time, and determining if that time could instead be spent reading. My biggest thing in 2020 to overcome is going to be keeping myself from re-watching The Great British Baking Show 10+ times.
Read Diversely – And I mean diverse in every way it can be meant when it comes to reading. Sometimes I found myself stuck in a cycle of YA fantasy novels that focused on European inspired cultures and only hetero relationships. There isn’t anything wrong with liking those stories, but after the same story over and over, I found myself getting bored, which makes it difficult to want to read. And then I started mixing in stories from diverse authors with diverse experiences, and to say my desire to read flourished would be an understatement. To quote a tweet from from Rebecca F. Kuang “In 2020, we’re not reading diverse books to tick off diversity checkboxes, we’re reading diverse books [because] they’re good”.
Taking in all that I learned about my reading in 2019, I am semi-secretly aiming to read 200 books this year. I say semi-secretly because I haven’t told my Goodreads challenge that yet. I have it set at 100, because I know I can hit that. But the thought of being able to surpass that goal by a whole other 100 books makes me giddy with anticipation.
What are you reading goals for 2020? I hope you’ve found something here that will help you meet them!