For as long as I can remember, one of my new year’s resolutions has always been to ‘read more’. In 2018 I read 27 books, last year I read 36 and this year I’m aiming for at least 40. Although I enjoy keeping track of the numbers, my focus isn’t overall volume. I simply want reading to form a large part of my day. I want it to be something I spend a lot of time doing. When time is short, and you’re already being pulled in multiple directions, achieving this is more challenging than it sounds.

‘Reading was my escape and my comfort, my consolation, my stimulant of choice: reading for the pure pleasure of it, for the beautiful stillness that surrounds you when you hear an author’s words reverberating in your head.’ ― Paul Auster, The Brooklyn Follies

In 2019, I had a breakthrough. I’ve finally found my reading rhythm and I now spend an hour or more with my nose in a book every day. Here’s how I did it…

  • Read What You Love

It sounds obvious, right? But as the author Marian Keyes said recently, ‘there are far too many ‘shoulds’ attached to reading’.

For a while, I thought I should be racing through business books. I’m female, self-employed and I have an Instagram account, so I should enjoy non-fiction titles bound in pink and authored by ‘girl bosses’. Except I didn’t. There were a few exceptions, but generally these books never left me excited about reading. And when reading feels like a slog, it’s easy to put it off.

Aside from the pressure to read what everybody else is reading, I hadn’t realised my hobby could have nothing to do with my job. I could read purely for pleasure. For me, this means reading lots of fiction from my favourite genres. Sometimes I throw in the odd memoir. Reading for pleasure also means abandoning books I’m not enjoying. {More wisdom from Marian: ‘life is short, so I don’t feel guilty about giving up on a book that simply isn’t for me’.}

  • Put Your Phone Away

I mean really put it away. In another room, on another floor, inside a locked drawer… whatever it takes to stop the scrolling. Nobody likes admitting it, but we all waste far too much time on our phones. I reach for mine absentmindedly, so separating myself from it completely has been the key to reading more.

Our bedroom has been screen-free for a while and I spend at least 30 minutes reading every night. I’ve gradually trained myself to reach for my Kindle before my phone in the morning, so I’m able to read for at least 30-45 minutes before breakfast.

I’m far from perfect and I still use my phone a lot, but cutting down has freed up time for other things. Reading a good book makes me feel a lot better than hours spent on social media.

  • Create a Reading Ritual

Creating a ritual or routine around reading has helped me build a solid habit. Once I started thinking about it as a form of self-care, the more intentional I became about the whole experience. Each morning, I make myself a cup of tea, turn on my diffuser and select my favourite classical music playlist on Spotify. I wrap myself up in a blanket on the sofa, fire up my Kindle, and until the kids come downstairs there are no distractions – whatever I’m reading has my full attention. If my mind wanders or other thoughts begin to drown out the words on the page, I gently return my focus to the book. For more on this see Reading as a Form of Meditation and My Morning Rhythm.

  • Track Your Progress

As I’ve already said, numbers aren’t everything, but I admit I’ve found it incredibly motivating to see my list of completed books get longer and longer. I used to keep a note of everything I’d read on my phone, but I now use Goodreads and an Instagram Stories highlight to track my progress. Although I love chatting about books and often eulogise about recent reads in-person, I do not enjoy writing book reviews, so I don’t. A basic list and the odd star rating is where it’s at!

  • Connect with Other Bibliophiles

Talking to others who share your passion for reading is another great way to stay motivated. I love it when people slide into my DMs to debate the merits of my latest read and I love it even more when they say things like, ‘if you enjoyed that, you’ll love this’. Connecting and sharing with other readers creates some accountability and keeps me inspired.

  • Last year, Mr L.A. treated me to a Kindle Paperwhite*. It allows me to read in bed without disturbing him and ensures I have a large, weightless supply of books whenever we go away. I keep an eye out for daily deals and take full advantage of Amazon First Reads which allows Prime members to choose a freebie from a list of new books each month. I still love physical books and I’d highly recommend joining your local library and trawling local charity shops for your next read.

Love Audrey xxx

P.S. Links marked with an asterisk are affiliate which means I’ll make a few pennies if you make a purchase.

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