Five weeks into my 2014 reading challenge (forty-seven to go, haha…check back with me next month) and I’m having a blast. I thought I’d offer some encouragement and tips to anyone else who wants to read but finds it a difficult discipline. I’ve been there for, oh, the last six years or so. Here are a few things that have helped me leave the lazy reader behind and start working toward becoming a book worm.
1. Make a list of what you want to read.
If you know ahead of time what you’d like to read, and you’ve even written it down, you won’t waste time in between books.
2. Get lost in several books simultaneously, preferably of varying genres or depth levels.
I wasn’t always in the mood for Paul David Tripp last month, and that was okay. I could take up I Will Carry You or Creative Counterpart instead and carry on with Tripp another day, without “losing” those opportune moments.
3. Choose to make reading your new go-to leisure activity.
I’m picking up my phone a lot less and grabbing a book a lot more these days. If I have ten spare minutes in between commitments, I squeeze in a chapter instead of scrolling Facebook.
4. Tell your friends about what you’re reading and encourage them to do the same!
Selena and I have formed an unofficial book club of two, and it’s motivating both of us to read more. You could also have a formal accountability partner if you’re really struggling.
5. Use Good Reads.
This is a great, free system for tracking what you’ve read, what you’d like to read, and what you’re currently reading. You can also create a reading challenge for yourself, and as you complete books, your challenge completion percentage will increase. Talk about incentive!
6. Watch for Kindle deals and use your library system and friends’ bookshelves.
You don’t have to pay list price for everything you pick up. I watch Amazon’s Monthly Kindle Deals for savings, buy their books used, and borrow from the library or a friend when I can.
7. Mark up those pages.
I find that highlighting a book helps me get more out of it and remember more when I’m finished, and provides me with an easy way to go back to what I appreciated afterward. This makes reading feel more worthwhile and also makes writing book reviews less painful.
8. Remember that man’s words never trump God’s Word.
What we read, including devotional books, should never replace consistent time directly in the Bible. This is for many reasons, one of them being that if we are not in the Word regularly, we will lose our ability to discern truth from error in the books we read. We must make the Bible the standard against which we measure everything else we take in.
If you’re someone who, like me, has wanted to read more but simply hasn’t made it happen, I hope some of these tips will help you carve out the time. Remember to keep reading in balance with the rest of life. Even a good thing can become an idol when we let it grow too important or cop an attitude when we can’t have it.
Happy reading! =)