How I got to read more books (from 2 books in 2021 to 4 books in the last month!)
Updated: Aug 23
Maybe 4 books in a month is not a lot for many standards. I know some people even read 16 books per month! But for me, it's a huge thing. In 2021 (last year) I only finished 2 books. So 4 books in one month is a huge milestone for me. Here you can read how I made it.
Why I don't usually read a lot
I know some people got used to reading when they were little. Either their parents read to them or helped them read more by going to libraries/book stores and making it a fun activity.
This was not my case. Apart from the school's regular history or math books that we needed to do every school year, I only read 3 books - 3 books in 9 years! And I read them because the school gave them to us and asked us to read them as part of an assignment. I don't even remember which ones they were, but I remember I couldn't finish one and I ended up asking the summary to a friend so the teachers didn't know I didn't finish it when they asked me about it. So maybe I just read 2 and a half?
Then, in high school and university, the same thing happened. Apart from the regular subjects' books, I was asked to read 2 books, but I didn't finish them. These I do remember:
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka: I started it and got to maybe half of it but I got bored and didn't finish it. Googled the ending.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai: I did not even try. I had way too many assignments and I worked all morning while studying all night. Googled the summary.
Half a book in 7 years. By this point, I've only read 3 (if you count the two halves) books in 16 years. And the only memories I had about these books were that they were SO hard to read and it took a LOT of time.
There was just one book I remember I read because my crush gifted it to me. I didn't want to read it, but I made myself read it because I wanted her to like me! Also, it was smaller than the rest of them: The Slave by Anand Dilvar (I read it in the Spanish version: El Esclavo).
This fact is important because of two things:
I didn't like to read books for an assignment or with a deadline
Shorter books are easier to read because I feel I'm reading them faster
This takes me to my next point.
So how did I manage to read more?
This is a combination of different things that I had to do. It was not just one single thing. In summary, this is what I noticed worked for me in the last month:
Having fewer things to watch on Netflix
Reading shorter books first; longer second
Reading a few minutes/pages at a time
Choosing books I do feel like reading
Adding this activity to my daily routine
Leaving cellphones out of reading areas
Let me elaborate on each of them.
1. Having fewer things to watch on Netflix
Some months ago, I wrote this blog post: How to be more productive: Set your priorities straight, which made me realize my priority to watch Netflix was bigger than my priority to read. When I started analyzing why this happened to me, I realized it was because the books I was reading (Come as You Are, Disability Visibility, and Uncommon Sense Teaching) were too big and too serious. I needed to really pay attention to what I was reading and I couldn't just stop after a few pages, otherwise, I'd lose the train of thought. This meant I needed to read whole chapters at a time and really pay attention to all of it - which was a deal-breaker for me because I could only read after my day was over and not every day. Whereas Netflix provided me with that commodity of just playing something and resting my mind. I could watch comedy shows or something light that would let my brain rest.
Another thing that helped a lot was that I watched all the shows I wanted to watch on Netflix, so now I don't really have that "urge" to binge-watch something because all I have left is not that exciting. This let me look for other ways to unwind: like reading a good book.
2. Reading shorter books first; longer second
One day, some weeks ago, I went to Walmart and bought two short books (Change Your Life in 5 Minutes a Day and Find Calm). They were not heavy, serious, or long. I didn't have a problem reading them right away because I could read for as short as 5 minutes a day or as long as the whole book (I did read one in just one go). This is when I noticed I could easily get into the routine of reading books if they were shorter.
3. Reading a few minutes/pages at a time
Besides choosing shorter books to read, I started reading just a few minutes every day, any time I had some free time. This was helpful because now I could read in the middle of the day, while taking a coffee break, or right after finishing work. I told myself I just needed to read for 5 minutes and not a whole hour or so. This, in combination with choosing lighter books, helped me to get into a daily routine too.
4. Choosing books I do feel like reading
It feels like this shouldn't even be a point, but I often forget about this. If you don't look forward to reading that book and instead feels like a boring assignment - you don't have to read that book! You do get to be selective with what you read because it's your free time! This helped me to prioritize books I do feel like reading and it helped me to read them faster because I was having a good time with them. I sometimes read for hours and it didn't feel like it because it was so much fun. I started reading mangas and graphic novels and it made my life happier.
5. Adding this activity to my daily routine
The next thing I noticed was that I didn't really have a space in my day to read. I sometimes read on the weekends, but it wasn't a sure thing. I spent some weekends just watching Netflix or playing video games and not reading at all. I needed to make this a routine for real - so I added it to the end of the day, right before going to sleep. Now every night I have a book beside my bed and that's what I do before going to sleep. Relax, read, and go to sleep.
6. Leaving cellphones out of reading areas
My first reading area was a small bean bag sofa next to the bookshelf. Every time I was there, I left my phone outside this room so I could focus on what I was reading. After I made this a night-time routine, I started leaving my phone out of my bedroom too. So now every time I read, wherever I am, I tend to leave my phone outside so I can really focus on the book and have stress-free fun!
What books have I read lately?
So the 4 books I read this past month (April 2022) were these ones:
Find Calm by Anna Barnes: short, light, small, and useful book. You don't need to pay attention to all of it but you might learn something new! It has lots of fun and inspiring quotes that may help you in your day-to-day.
Sensor by Junji Ito: this is a horror manga. I read it super quickly because I was really enjoying the illustrations and the story was very easy to follow. I have a new favorite author :-)
SCP Foundation: Iris Through the Looking Glass Vol.1 by Akira: I bought it because I really like the SCP video games and I sometimes read their online wiki. I thought it was a graphic novel, but it was just a novel. I felt discouraged at first because of that, but I was able to read it very fast. This is the fastest I've read a book. It was 300+ pages and I finished it in some days because I really loved the story and it was SO easy to follow.
More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz: I had already read the first book of this series but I never got to reading the second one. Wellp, I finally finished it! They're really fun "horror" stories. I think they are for kids? There's a movie based on these but the movie is not for kids :-)
Want to follow what I'm reading? Create a Goodreads account and follow me there!
Here's my profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/43783343-alexandra-martinez
(yes, my profile pic is Stitch from Lilo & Stitch lol)
Let me know if these work for you or comment below with what did work for you!
Thank you for reading 💜
Unrelated but important if you speak Spanish:
If you have trouble reading but still want to hear the summary of some books, I recommend you check out this amazing podcast (in Spanish): No Me Hagas Leer
Kudos to Pam & Nia for creating this beautiful space and sharing your book reviews! You've inspired me to read more :)