In 2017, I read 65 books! That sounds crazy to me now – that’s about 5.5 books a month, or 1.25 books a week! I didn’t set out to read that much, but it accumulated little by little over time. As I cultivated this life-giving reading habit (which really has been a life-long joy to me), I have had a lot of questions about how I fit it in! So, this post is to answer some of those questions and hopefully give you some tips on increasing your own reading.
I ran across an interesting statistic that said the average CEO reads 40 books a year, and sadly the average college graduate reads less than TWO books a year! So, be challenged to be a “CEO” of your household and keep learning, reading, and growing along the way! Even if 40+ books is not your goal, we can all be stretched as we explore new literature this year.
Here are some helpful tips for cultivating a life-giving reading habit:
1. Limit other media. We don’t own a tv, and I try to be intentional about my use of social media as well so I don’t spend a lot of time looking at screens. I try to reach for a book for entertainment instead! It sounds obvious, but it’s a super helpful tip to prioritize reading time!
2. Keep a running list of books you want to read. Figure out what interests you and what you want to learn about and go with it! I usually keep a note in my phone of books that I come across. Then, it’s easy to glance over and see what to read next. Also, find your sources- follow book lovers on Instagram, buy books from thrift books or used book stores, or compile lists of authors to investigate. I love asking my friends what they are reading and love to swap books with them, too!
3. Read several books at a time then you can pick and choose based on your mood! I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but I like being in the middle of several books at once. I am usually reading at least 4 books at any given time.
4. Build reading time into the flow of your life. Where is “down time” during your day that you could spend reading? For me, it’s usually during naptimes, car-line time, and after my kids go to sleep. (And just to clarify – I’m not reading while driving! I just go a little early to pick up my kids from school and often use the waiting time in the car-line to read.) When does it work for you? Reach for a book during those times!
5. Bring a book with you wherever you go! Keep one in the car! In your purse! You never can predict when you have some free time, but having a book handy is a great way to squeeze some life and purpose out of some otherwise mundane moments.
6. Befriend your local library and librarians. I almost exclusively put books on hold and rarely just “browse the bookshelves.” I rely heavily on interlibrary loan, which is AMAZING! At our local library, it’s just $1 postage fee for basically ANY book. It’s so worth it! I have also become friends with one of the librarians in charge of purchasing new books and given her some suggestions…and she purchased the lengthy list of books I recommended for the library, which delights me!
7. Don’t let it take over normal life. For me, reading falls at the end of the list. Some days, it’s just not possible to fit it in with the other more important demands on my time. So, I try not to stress and just recognize that it’s a valuable hobby, but not my ultimate priority.
8. Prioritize the Bible over other books. I think I would be remiss to mention this one. I could not scale up my reading of other literature without scaling up my Bible reading as well, and I definitely want the Bible to be the ultimate priority in what I read. So, for me this looks like reading the Bible first during the day, and also last before I go to sleep. I also felt challenged this year to set apart the Sabbath day for only the Word of God, so I don’t do outside reading on Sundays. I definitely want my focus to be on Scripture, and for outside books to supplement that.
9. Get accountability and make a plan! Even the accountability of writing down and recording what you have read is a form of motivation. Set a goal- share your goal with someone or write it down- and act on it! It really helps me to sit down once a month when I make goals for the upcoming month to evaluate the books I want to read. If I don’t have a specific plan, I find myself not reading as much or not knowing which book to pick up next. (Or, I’m left in a lurch without something to read if I haven’t had the forethought to request a book from the library or order it online #bookloverprobs)
10. Join a book club. Or, read a book alongside a spouse or friend. Make it fun! I LOVE my local MomHeart group because I get to hear from the other moms what they are learning from the book. This also provides additional accountability to read within a certain time frame or keep up a certain pace.
11. Don’t be afraid to “quit” a book. I used to operate under the mentality that I shouldn’t stop reading a book, but follow through to the end. However, I have found a new M.O. If I’m not LOVING a book and feel stalled out, I don’t force myself to finish it. I just return it or shelve it guilt-free, and move on to something I’m actually EXCITED to be reading.
12. Use a commonplace book to glean the most from your readings. I love looking back on quotes, notes, and details from books I have read. I don’t take notes on every book, but I use the Evernote app and have a section for book notes within my “notebooks.” It’s super easy to use and helps me soak up information and revisit it as needed. The Evernote app also has a camera to capture text, so if it seems daunting to type in all the quotes, you can utilize that!
Finally, I think it is especially important to keep in mind your vision for reading. For me, I want to love God with all of my MIND. I want to fill my mind with truth and be pondering the things of God. Reading (both fiction and non-fiction) helps me to set my mind on Christ. As I read, I am filling my head with thoughts of Him, and able to engage with Him more as a result.
Also, I wanted to include an updated (and complete) list of books I read in 2017. The original post can be found here.
1. The More of Less, Joshua Becker
2. Holiness for Housewives, Hubert Van Zeller
3. The Magicians Nephew, C.S. Lewis
4. Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life, Margaret Kim Peterson
5. Make It Happen, Lara Casey
6. Reforming Social Media, Mandy J. Hoffman
7. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
8. Hoodwinked, Karen Edman and Ruth Schwenk
9. Imagine Heaven, John Burke
10. 90 Minutes in Heaven, Don Piper
11. For Better or For Kids, Ruth Schwenk
12. You and Me Forever, Francis and Lisa Chan
13. Proof of Heaven, Eben Alexander
14. C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller, Geoff Benge
15. Forgotten God, Francis Chan
16. Mission of Motherhood, Sally Clarkson
17. Big Love, Kara Tippets
18. The Horse and His Boy, C.S. Lewis
19. Raising Chickens, Jermone Belanger
20. King’s Cross, Timothy Keller
21. The Green Ember, S. D. Smith
22. Ember Falls, S. D. Smith
23. Growing Kids God’s Way, Gary Ezzo
24. They Found the Secret, V. Raymond Edman
25. Realign, Josh Lawson
26. We Shall See God: Charles Spurgeon’s Classic Devotional Thoughts on Heaven, Randy Alcorn
27. Prince Caspian, C. S. Lewis
28. Adventures in Prayer, Catherine Marshall
29. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C. S. Lewis
30. Triggers, Amber Lia
31. The Silver Chair, C. S. Lewis
32. I Heart Heaven, Tracy H. Goza Ph.D.
33. To Heaven and Back, Mary C. Neal
34. Prayer, Tim Keller
35. None Like Him, Jen Wilkin
36. The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis
37. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown
38. The Holiness of God, R. C. Sproul
39. Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline, Catherine McNeil
40. Cultivate, Lara Casey
41. Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery
42. For the Children’s Sake, Susan Shaeffer Macauley
43. Go Make Disciples, Drew Steadman
44. Clara Barton (Landmark Book), Helen More Boyleson
45. Parenting, Paul David Tripp
46. Anne of Avonlea, Lucy Maud Montgomery
47. Anne of the Island, Lucy Maud Montgomery
48. Anne of Windy Poplars, Lucy Maud Montgomery
49. Dancing with My Father, Sally Clarkson
50. Anne of Ingleside, Lucy Maud Montgomery
51. The Shaping of a Christian Family, Elisabeth Elliot
52. Rainbow Valley, Lucy Maud Montgomery
53. The Trumpet of the Swan, E.B. White
54. Gracelaced: Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the Heart, Ruth Chou Simons
55. The Duties of Parents, J. C. Ryle
56. Rilla of Ingleside, Lucy Maud Montgomery
57. The Borrowers, Mary Norton
58. Teach Them Diligently: How to Use The Scriptures in Child Training, /Louis Paul Priolo
59. Kisses from Katie, Katie Davis Majors
60. The Life-Giving Table, Sally Clarkson
61. Daring to Hope, Katie Davis Majors
62. The Christmas Box, Richard Paul Evans
63. Hello Mornings, Kat Lee
64. More than Just Making It, Erin Odom
65. Come Ye Children: Help for Teaching Children About Jesus, Charles Spurgeon
Random extra books/booklets that I’ve enjoyed this year:*
*these are books that are shorter in length, cookbooks, or books that I did not read in entirety. I did not “count” them toward my 65 book total for the year but enjoyed them nonetheless!
How to Celebrate Everything, Jenny Rosenstrach
The Whole 30, Melissa Hartwig
100 Days of Real Food: Fast and Fabulous, Lisa Leake
Simply Clean, Becky Rapinchuk
Cut Flower Garden, Erin Benzakein
Helping Children Understand the Gospel, Sally Michael, Jill Nelson, and Bud Burk
The Majestic Names of God, Lisa Kay Hailey Blair
Mothers, Disciplers of the Next Generations, Sally Michael
How to Study your Bible: The Lasting Rewards of the Inductive Method, Kay Arthur
Home Education, Charlotte Mason
The Greatest Gift, Ann Voskamp
Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis
Daily Light on the Daily Path
Morning by Morning, Charles Spurgeon
Do you have any reading goals this year? I would love to know what you are currently reading or what you are excited to read this year!