20 Simple Ways to Become a Bookworm
Written by Leo of Zen Habits
A top goal for many people is reading more books. And while it seems like an easy enough goal, it seems that it can be difficult with all of life's distractions.
Reading can be a pleasure like no other, especially when you discover a fantastic author or an imaginative new world. You can cuddle up with a good book on a weekend or rainy day, become life-long friends with a great character, lose yourself in the worlds created by books.
If reading more books is a goal of yours, there are some easy and simple things you can do to encourage a life-long reading habit. Follow these tips, and you'll soon have a list of books you've read that goes on forever.
- Make it a habit. If you can install a new habit to read at certain times of the day, no matter what, even if it's just for 10 minutes at a time, you'll end up reading a ton of books over the course of a year. For example, make it a habit to read with breakfast and lunch, when you use the bathroom, and when you go to bed. If you do 10 minutes at a time, you'll have 40 minutes a day, or nearly 5 hours a week. If you ride public transit, read while you're waiting and while you're on the bus or train. Make it a daily habit, and it will add up. This is the surest way to read more books.
- Keep a reading list. Either in a notebook, on a wiki, or some other document on your computer, keep a simple list of books you want to read. Add to it every time you hear of a good book, or read a good review. This running list will keep you motivated keep reading more.
- Keep a book log. Along those lines, also keep a log of all the books you read. If you want to be detailed, write the book title, author, the date you started and the date you completed it. Even more, you can write a short note about how you liked the book. If all of that's too much trouble, just keep a list of the books you read and maybe the date you finished them.
- Set a challenge. Make a challenge for yourself -- say one book a week, or 40 books in a year. Something achievable, but a challenge. Make it a public challenge, announcing it on your blog or to friends and family, and give everyone your weekly progress report. You'll push yourself to meet the challenge, and find ways to do it.
- Cut back on online reading. If you're reading a lot of stuff online, you probably don't have enough time to read books. If you cut your online reading by just 30 minutes (I'm not saying to ditch it completely), you'll have time to read for half an hour a day. That adds up.
- Join a book club. Most areas have some sort of book club -- look online, in your local newspaper, or at your local library for a book club near you. If you can't find one, organize one with friends, family and neighbors who are interested in books. A book club will get you motivated to read, and help you find recommendations for great books, and perhaps an easy way to swap good books with people in your area.
- Join an online forum. Along those lines, there are many online forums for book lovers -- just do a Google search. Join one, participate, list your favorite books and authors, read those of others, talk books. It's a lot of fun, and you'll get support to form your reading habit.
- Limit TV watching. If you watch hours of television every day, you won't be able to read many books. Cut your TV time in half (for example), to free up time for reading.
- Join Bookmooch. Try Bookmooch for a great way to swap books. List the books you're willing to mail to people, and then list the books you want. If someone requests a book, you mail it at your cost. If someone has a book you want, you get it mailed to you for free.
- Carry your book always. This is one of the most important tips if you want to read more books: anywhere you go, bring your book with you. If you leave the house, put your book in the car. That way, if you have any waiting time, you've got your book to keep you company.
- Find inspiration. Read blogs by book lovers. There are many. These book lovers will describe books in such as way as to make you want to read them. They'll talk about their favorite authors. It's inspiring, and it'll motivate you to read.
- Get great recommendations. Find others who love the books you love, and see what else they recommend. A great way to do that is through Library Thing, a service where you list the books you own, give them ratings and reviews, and get recommendations for other books.
- Read books you can't put down. While you may be ambitious and want to tackle all of the classics, if those go a little too slowly for you, put them down and come back to them later. Instead, find a real page-turner. It doesn't matter what kind of book it is, as long as it's a book you love to read and can't put down. For me, that's writers like Stephen King and John Grisham and Tom Clancy or Robert Ludlum or Sue Grafton. I'll stay up all night reading one of their books.
- Always have books to read. You should never finish a book and not have another book lined up. I like to have at least 5 lined up, so I don't have to worry about it. Have your lineup of books stacked to one side of your bookshelf, so you always know what's on deck.
- Read books that make you laugh. Humorous books are good books, in my opinion. They're fun, and they can poke fun at some of the things we normally take seriously. And they make you want to read them. Find a funny author and go with him. My favorites are Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett and Mark Twain and David Sedaris.
- Connect with your passions. What do you love, and what do you love to do? If you read about it online, it's probably something you love to read about. Think about what those topics are, and find a good fiction novel about it. You're more likely to keep reading if you love the topic.
- Get into a series. Once I hit on a book I love, if it's part of a series, I try to read the whole series (if I can find all the books). Start to finish is best, but sometimes it doesn't matter. Series are a great way to keep reading.
- Finish your book before starting another. One bad habit I broke a few years ago was starting one book, putting it down, and then starting another, thinking I'll read them both at the same time. It doesn't usually work. I often don't come back to the first book, and usually don't finish it. If you start a book and it's a dud, go ahead and abandon it. But if it's a keeper, try to finish it before moving on.
- Become a library lover. There's no better resource for book lovers than the local public library. It's full of great books, new and old, and it's free. It's free! Go there, and enjoy the time you spend there.
- Get to love used book stores. Second best, next to the library, are your local used bookstores. There aren't a lot of them in my area (just one, actually, not counting a thrift shop), so it is one of my favorite places to go. I usually take a stack (or a box) of my old books, sell them, and use the credit to get a bunch of new ones.
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