For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a voracious reader. I come by it quite naturally; I come from a family of readers, including parents who routinely gifted my sister and I with books for our birthdays and Christmas (and they continue to do so, lucky for us!). It’s not at all unusual for me to have multiple books on my nightstand at a time, usually a fiction and non-fiction, and reading whichever one strikes my fancy at that moment.
Despite my love of reading, I’ve noticed that in the past year or so, my reading has dropped off a bit. There are a lot of nights when I choose watching TV (I blame you, James Spader and Viola Davis) instead of reading. I decided that for 2015 I’d set a goal of reading a minimum of 30 books that I haven’t read before, and have set up a page so that you can follow my progress and make recommendations if you wish. One book down so far, 29 to go!
If you want to up your reading game, too, here are a few tools and resources that have helped me broaden my reading horizons.
I only recently began using Goodreads to catalog books I’m reading or want to read, and have not been too consistent with keeping it updated. The number of books listed on my account that I’ve read are just a fraction of what’s actually on my bookshelves at home, and I just haven’t had the time or drive yet to sit down and record them all, but perhaps one of these days I’ll get around to it.
The main thing I use Goodreads for is to keep a list going of books I want to read, and when I go to the library I search for books on my “want to read” list. I’d really like to take some time to explore all the bells and whistles that the site has to offer, and would love to connect with more people on Goodreads. If you have an account, I’d love for you to add me as a friend so we can check out each other’s book lists. It’s always fun to see what other fellow book lovers are reading.
Paperback Swap is a fun way to get books for ultra-cheap, and I highly recommend it if you’ve already got a stash of books that you’re ready to swap. In a nutshell, you set up a free account and list at least 10 books (paperback, hardback or even audiobook) that you’re willing to swap. Whenever someone requests one of your listed books, you send it to them and pay for their shipping (which usually runs around $3 per book, depending on the weight of the book). In exchange, you get a credit for every book you swap, which you can in turn use to order a book from another member. You can also use your credits to get a discounted rate on a new book.
I’ve lost track of how many books I’ve swapped and received through this site, but so far it’s been a great experience. It’s allowed me to take a gamble on reading some books that I might not pay full price for at a bookstore or on Amazon, and the books are usually in mint condition. Some of the books I’ve received I’ve re-listed after reading them, but I’d say I’ve kept the majority that I’ve received. Since the inventory is constantly changing, I try to visit the site every week or so to see what’s newly posted.
You’ve probably noticed that I post quite a few book reviews on this site. I’m a member of blogging review teams for several publishers, which send me books to read (and keep) for free, in exchange for my unbiased review of their books on my blog. Getting free books is a dream come true for book lovers, and it’s allowed me to discover some great new (to me) authors. Some of the review programs I currently work with include BookLook, Blogging for Books and Handlebar.
Making Time to Read
While the aforementioned resources have helped me expand my reading list, I’ve found that the real key to reading more is to make the time to do it. My favorite time to read is just before bedtime; it settles me down and can be quite relaxing, even if the book I’m reading is a tense thriller. (No horror stories for me, though, especially before turning out the lights!) Most nights I plan to read just for a few minutes in bed, and find myself still reading an hour later. I love when I’m so into reading that I can barely keep my eyes awake and yet I don’t want to put the book down; that’s a sign that the book is really, really good.
What tools, apps or other resources have you found that have helped you read more? Do you keep a journal or list of what you’ve read?