BC Brown Books

How to Read A Book Every Week (Minimum)

IMAGE: Book laying open on a bed, pages face up. CAPTION: A man who does not read has no advantage over a man who cannot read; Albert Einstein.
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“I want to read more!” Having time to read isn’t something precious to be put on a pedestal and admired. Reading a book every single week is not as difficult as many people make it seem.

I’m not special. I don’t read hundreds of books each year. But I do manage to consume one to two books a week, not counting comic books and graphic novels (which can be several per week). Am I bragging a little? Yeah, okay I am. But the key to my bragging rights is that anyone can make the time to read more. One of the most common utterances of busy adults everywhere is “I wish I read more.” But the secret is to take the act of reading itself off the pedestal. Reading isn’t something that needs special pomp and circumstance. If you think you can only pull out a book when you have an afternoon off and a snuggly blanket, and the rain pitter-pattering off the roof outside…chances are you will only ever read when you have the afternoon off, a snuggly blanket, and it’s raining.

Reading isn’t a luxury; it’s something you make a part of your daily life, a habit, a necessity. Like creating any new habit, or breaking an old bad habit, it’s making a conscious effort. And it isn’t hard to do. When creating a new habit, it just takes a little bit of hard work and willpower. Oh yeah, and a little bit of self trickery.

Don’t read before bed, read before work

It’s common practice for most people to keep their reading on their nightstand. If you read at night, you probably only get through a few pages before you relax and get sleepy. Remember, you’ve already logged a full day’s worth of work and activity, and your brain has already been set to ‘sleep mode,’ not learning mode. Instead, make reading a morning habit in order to read more. If you’re like me, you’re not an early riser. Instead of spending each morning checking Instagram or surfing Facebook in bed, try replaced it with reading a couple chapters. (I promise not much has happened since you opened the app at midnight.) Make tea or coffee and ease your way into the day. (If you’re like me, I read two or three blogs in the morning, reserving my lengthier chapter reading for throughout the day. Of course, that’s mostly because I’m not much of a human being first thing upon waking.) Plus, there are additional benefits to morning reading, such as: your eyes are fresher and you’re less likely to gloss over words or paragraphs due to fatigue orbs; your mind isn’t bogged down by the days distractions, and you can really absorb what you’re reading; and, of course, there are tons of educational advantages to reading first thing in the day, such as easier absorption of ideas to recall later; plus, added health benefits of taking a few extra minutes of relaxing wake up time instead of rushing through your morning routine.

IMAGE: Attractive man on a city bus reading.Take advantage of your commute

Changing up my morning commute was one of the best decisions I ever made to be able to read more. If you take the bus or the train to work, use that time to your advantage: read. Instead of listening idly to music or a podcast, actively read. The average commute is around 30 minutes one way. In 30 minutes, you can read a couple of chapters (depending on the book and its average chapter length). Besides, don’t you want to end up part of the whole internet movement of “Hot Dudes Reading“?

Read on your phone

I love the smell of real books. I love the feel and weight of real books. That said, I read (on average) half of all my books on either my android’s Kindle app or my iPad’s Kindle app. Chances are you have your phone on you pretty much at all times. Most people never let it out of their sight for more than a few minutes, and it’s conveniently right there in your pocket when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store or at the coffee shop. Even if you only read a page or two for a few minutes, those minutes add up over the course of a day. For these short wait periods, I tend to have a non-fiction or short story anthology loaded up and ready to go.  Most short stories can be read start to finish in about 10-15 minutes, so if the line at the grocery store is interminable (like it always seems to be anymore) then you are set to go.

Stop reading books that…suck

Nothing will make you quit your new reading habit faster than feeling like you’re trapped in junior high school and forced to read, or just because you paid money for it or someone said you should read it. There are literally millions upon millions of books out there. Books you will love to spend minutes, even hours, on. If you don’t like a book, don’t read it. Pick up a different one. That doesn’t mean you should never give the book another chance. There is something to the thought that people need certain things at certain times in their lives. That includes books. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up a book to read (usually on recommendation from someone I trust) and it just wasn’t interesting to me…right then. Later when I picked it up again, it was just what I needed to read. And I’m not the only one. Check out this article by two avid readers at The Guardian debating the issue. Even if you’re broke after spending money on that last book you didn’t read, there is…

The library!

If there is a universal constant in this world, it is: free shit rules! The library is probably one of the best bastions on that constant. If you were using “Hey, I paid money for that last book so I have to read it!” then consider instead the fact that library books come with due dates! It’s built in incentive. Also, there is something infinitely gratifying about the treasure hunt that is finding a truly awesome book among stacks and stacks of books.

Multitask, babyIMAGE: House cat laying on top of as if reading a book.

We’re kings and queens of the multitask. It’s a staple of modern life: needing to be able to process and do a lot of different crap all at once in one day. Picking multiple books to read at once is just smart planning. You never know what your taste will be at any given point in the day. Usually I go for a fiction book, something epic and escapist; a nonfiction, improve thyself yaddah yaddah; and at least one comic book (or comic series). There are days your brain will be fried after work during your commute home; grab the comic instead of the dense fantasy novel with a million characters and plots and subplots to follow.

Read while you watch

Most of us aren’t so uppity that we don’t watch some form of live TV. You can still use that time to read. I mean, what can be more gratifying than saying you read hundreds of hours or thousands of books during Geico ads? (Hell, tweet about that and tag Geico; maybe you’ll get some kind of sponsorship, or at least free stuff?) Also, even if you don’t watch live TV, many streaming services still have 30-45 seconds worth of ads periodically throughout the program; keep a book right beside you for those “down times.” An avid moviegoer? Read during the previews or while waiting in the concession line.

Keep track of what you read

We’re competitive, gratification-seeking mammals. We like to feel a sense of accomplishment. Reading is no different. Keep track of what you read. One, it will help you keep from accidentally picking up and wasting time (possibly spending money on) books you read a year, two years, or even three years ago. There are sites like Shelfari and Goodreads, which are fun and will let you do a bit of social bragging, or you can just keep a quick note in your phone or on your tablet. However you do it, the point is to remember to give yourself a little pat on the book for every book you complete (even the ones you don’t complete – you don’t want to accidentally waste time on those again). Doing so will reinforce the good reading habit you’ve worked so hard on.

So, there you have it. Increase how often you read; do the thing you say you always want to do: read more. All you have to do is tweak a few little things in your life and get over yourself. There is time.

BC Brown grew up in Vincennes, Indiana, and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, in 2013. She started blogging in 2006 about one year before publishing her first fantasy novel under the pen name B.B. Walter.

After committing nearly every bad deed in the proverbial book of how to be an author, BC began studying marketing and public relations. She now provides common sense marketing for authors that is simple to implement. She continues to write and publish in the urban fantasy, contemporary fiction, and transgressive fiction genres (see more). Readers will also find her blogging on a number of social justice issues, nerdy fan content, and her obsession, karaoke. BC also blogs frequently about Deaf culture and being differently-abled.

She set up Fantastically Weird Media in 2010 to publish her second novel when she realized she wanted to independently control her own publishing as well as offer editing and marketing services to fellow writers. You can interact with BC online via her blog at www.bcbrownbooks.com on Facebook; http://www.facebook.com/BCBrowns.Books and Twitter @BCBrownBooks or Instagram @BCBrownBooks