I was a voracious reader until the busy schedules and fatigue of motherhood got me in a rut. Reading a book could take me over a month, whereas I used to be able to read a book in 1-2 days. It was depressing that something I once loved felt more like a chore. However, I feel more balanced when I read regularly, so I recently decided to get back into it. Here’s how I did it.
Set a Goal
A friend inspired me with her New Year’s resolution to read 2022 pages in 2022. That’s only about 6 books, a very reasonable goal. I got a late start in March but have already finished 5 books. I’m back to reading daily and even loved one book so much that I finished it in 24 hours.
Choose the Right Book
When I first came back to reading, I considered a few qualities when choosing books:
Chapter length: I’d prefer a million short chapters to 20 long ones. I feel more accomplished when I can stop at a new chapter. The short chapters of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before encouraged me.
Books-turned-movies: Call me old-fashioned, but I won’t see a movie if I haven’t read the book. With Where the Crawdads Sing coming to theaters this summer, I made this one a priority so that I could catch the movie and join the conversation in real time.
Familiar setting: I like settings I can easily visualize. For example, most of Greg Iles’ works take place in Mississippi and frequently include New Orleans. I have no problem getting into a story with a relatable setting.
Desired mood: For beach trips, I almost always go for one of Elin Hilderbrand’s Nantucket stories. I enjoy sitting on the beach reading about characters who are also on a beach. When I crave an almost-takes-my-breath-away suspenseful page-turner, I prefer Colleen Hoover.
Have Books at Your Fingertips
I make sure to have a book readily available at all times. There’s one on my living room end table, one on my nightstand, one in my purse. Rather than absentmindedly scrolling social media, having books accessible makes it easy to choose reading.
Get a Reading Group
Almost all of my coworkers are avid readers. We even have a locker in the break room designated as our “Little Free Library.” I’m not ready to commit to a book club with required readings and deadlines, but I like to swap books with my coworkers. We nudge each other along because someone is waiting for your book or someone else wants you to hurry up and finish and discuss.
Acknowledge that You Have Time
I read in the carpool line. I read when I’m at the nail salon as my polish soaks off. I read at work when I don’t have patients. I read on the treadmill. I take reading breaks between chores. I read at my son’s baseball game between innings. Four minutes here and there adds up. I’ve also found that reading in short spurts keeps me engaged. I never feel like I’ve had enough and therefore always come back to it.
Get the Kids Involved
A friend of mine recently mentioned that this summer, she and the kids are reading the classics they don’t typically read in schools these days, including Charlotte’s Web and James and the Giant Peach. Another friend is reading To Kill a Mockingbird with her children. You can read together or just have designated reading time where everyone is reading their own books at the same time. Either way, being accountable to your children keeps you going.
As I was recently reading, my husband, lying next to me on the beach, jokingly asked me to read to him. Just being silly, I read a page. When I stopped, he said, “Well, I’m invested now. Keep going.” And just like that, I filled him in and read him a few chapters. There was something intimate about reading the story to him, and it motivated me to keep going. I won’t be doing this all the time, but it would occasionally be fun if we’re both interested in a particular novel.
I’m so glad to be reading again. Next up will be Elin Hilderbrand’s The Beach Club, James Patterson’s nonfiction E.R. Nurses (I’m an ER nurse), and Jay Wilkinson’s A Lie Will Suffice, which is actually about my family. If you’re stuck in a reading rut, give my suggestions a try!