20 Ways You Can Read More Books in 2021
Just like Oprah has shown us with her game-changing book club—and its iteration at Apple Books—we love to read and encourage others to do so, too. So if you're looking to fall in love with your next page turner, we've put together some useful tips to both read more and get added enjoyment out of books in the year ahead.
Read before you fall asleep.
Skip out on that late-night scroll through your Twitter feed and go old school. Read a bedtime story to lull yourself to sleep. If you do this frequently enough, it can become a part of your nighttime routine.
"I hear a lot from people that say they're too tired before they go to bed to read, and I always ask them, 'What do you do before you tuck in?'" says Sarah Gelman, the editorial director of Amazon Books. "They'll say, 'I look at Instagram, I check emails.' I really think people need to put their phones away and pick up books or their e-readers. Even if you read the book for five minutes and fall asleep with it on your face—which has definitely happened to me—you have read it for five more minutes than you would have otherwise, and it just becomes a habit."
And, maybe even when you wake up in the morning.
If your schedule allows, instead of perusing your emails or immediately beginning the day's to-do list, take a moment for yourself and dedicate anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour for reading. And yes, you can stay in bed.
Follow "bookstagram" accounts for literary eye-candy.
Yes, "bookstagrams"—aka book Instagram accounts—are a total thing. It's a dedicated community that posts covers of their latest reads (and then some). The artistry of these accounts will inspire you to head to your local library. If you need any suggestions on who exactly to follow, OprahMag.com has a diverse list right here.
Always have a book on deck.
Whether you're commuting to the office or on your way to a girls' getaway, have a dedicated space in your bag for your next read. This way, whenever you find yourself with some unexpected down time, reading will always be an option.
Embrace audio books.
While you're not technically reading, Gelman explains that listening to a book with an engaging narrator can get you excited about finding your next novel—even for those who think of themselves as old school book readers. "For people that don't love audio books, I found nonfiction books read by the author—especially memoirs—were a sort of gateway."
Remember, there's no such thing as a "guilty pleasure" book.
You should never let embarrassment for liking a particular type of novel stop you from picking out a book.
"There's a reason why 'guilty pleasure' books are popular," Gelman says. "It's because they're good. They have a compelling story and they're fast to read. People have to let go of this stigma of 'what I should be reading' versus 'what I want to read.' Just read what you enjoy. It's so freeing."
Think about your TV time as reading time.
This mental trick will hopefully urge you to see the value in sitting down with a good book. Those three hours you'd usually spend bingeing The Crown? Maybe use at least half of that time to finally try out Oprah's latest book club pick, Isabel Wilkerson's Caste.
"A traditional 30 minute show is like 22 minutes if you fast forward through commercials, and an hour show is 42 minutes," Gelman says. She likes to spend those 22 or 42 minutes reading, explaining that time tends to go slower when she's engaged in a titillating text.
Participate in a reading challenge.
Devoting time to a challenge is a way to compete against yourself while still working toward your reading goals. You can keep it simple with Goodreads and choose a specific number of books to read per year, as the site allows you to easily track your progress.
Bookish also offers a reading challenge, though the terms are a bit more complex. In an effort to keep participant's selections diverse, their 2020 terms set a goal of 42 books, sending readers on a literary scavenger hunt. A couple of fun examples? One request was that you find a story dedicated to social justice, while another urges you to find a National Book Award winner.
Check out "best lists."
Selecting a book from the endless array can be overwhelming. To narrow down the field, peruse reading lists from the institutions that make it their business to find the best of the best.
The New York Times best sellers list is a tried and true test of a good book to read. (The current top spot for combined print and e-book fiction is The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly). And Goodreads' 2020 "Best Books" are being chosen by millions of bibliophiles as we speak.
And, of course, we can't forget our own trusted O book editors, who have curated tons of meticulous collections that span across genres. We've got the top LGBTQ novels of 2020 and even erotic short stories. No matter where you look, there's a little something for everybody.
Join a local book club.
Not only will you have fellow book lovers holding you accountable to read more, but you'll also be a part of a new community that makes finishing a book a priority. Not to mention the discussions about the book can expand your mind and perspective.
While it may seem impossible to find the right group, the American Library Association's "Book Club Central" offers plenty of resources to get started, including heading to your nearest library to consult the reference desk for information about local book clubs. Another place to check out is an independent bookstore, where active clubs tend to seek out new members who also enjoy reading. There's also meetup.com, where you can find clubs in your area.
If you prefer to stay home, Goodreads allows readers to join a virtual group through various discussion boards based on genre, from young adult to romance novels.
Read some poetry.
Whether you dig into a whole poetry book or read renowned love poems online, poetry can be a compelling break from traditional fiction and nonfiction reads that tend to dominate the best sellers lists. "Poetry is short and digestible, yes," says O's assistant books editor Michelle Hart, "but reading poetry is also a great way to get the creative part of your brain working."
To get you started, consider one of 2019's buzziest poetry collections: Camonghne Felix's Build Yourself A Boat, a powerful read about being a Black woman in today's America.
Try out a story before you commit.
It happens to the best of us. You pick up a book based on its eye-catching cover and enchanting synopsis, only for it to collect dust on your book shelf after just a few pages. It's hard to work up the energy to read more if you select duds. Hart has a tip to combat this dilemma.
"LitHub, which is, as the name suggests, a hub for all things literary, posts a short story or an excerpt from an upcoming novel every day," she says. "It’s a good way to try out a novel or an author before buying a book."
Invest in an e-reader.
While devoted book worms everywhere will likely always debate e-readers vs physical books, there's no denying that devices like Kindles can make it easier to read on demand. According to Statista, 335.7 million e-books were sold in the U.S. in 2019. The hassle of taking a trip to the bookstore is gone when you have a tablet that acts as a personal mobile library. And an e-reader stores thousands of books—new and old—that cross various genres, with prices starting as low as 99 cents. All you have to do to start reading is tap on a screen.
Listen to a book podcast.
It may sound counterintuitive to plug in your earphones to improve your reading habits, but Hart insists that certain podcasts will spike your interest in literature. She points to the New Yorker's "The Writer's Voice" and "Fiction" as choice programming. You can listen to each for free on Apple or Stitcher, which are available on both Android and iOS.
The New Yorker's fiction editor Deborah Treisman invites a different author on "Fiction" to read and discuss a new short story each month. (One of Hart's favorite episodes is with comedian David Sedaris.) "It's a great way to catch up on the New Yorker's acclaimed short stories, and as a bonus, you get to hear the story read by the authors themselves," Hart says.
And in case you need more suggestions, OprahMag.com has curated a list of their favorite book podcasts, too.
Download a reading app.
If you find that more often than not your reading hours slowly begin to turn into even more phone time, make your device less of a distraction and download a reading app. Apple Books, NOOK, and more offer digital bookstores with thousands of reads to choose from that you can pick instantly. So the next time you unlock your phone and have the urge to tap that Instagram icon, maybe you'll be tempted to open your Scribd app instead.
Take your time and set reading goals.
Oftentimes after purchasing a new book, the thought of even attempting to finish a multi-chapter novel can be intimidating. But remember, reading is not a race. You can finish a story as fast or as slow as you wish. To maintain your preferred pace, in addition to keeping yourself accountable, create personal goals. This could look like 20 pages a day, two chapters a week, or finishing the book by the end of the month. Whatever works for your schedule is attainable.
If you need a bit of encouragement, the Bookly app has a variety of tools including statistics that track your reading progress and an option to set up monthly and yearly goals.
Explore different genres.
It's totally okay if you can't get through the year's trendiest memoir or if you're finding that classic novels never seem to catch your attention. There are a variety of fiction and non-fiction genres (adventure, thrillers, biographies, short stories, graphic novels) for you try out in order to discover what truly keeps your attention.
Designate a cozy reading space.
Sometimes it's all about the atmosphere. Designate a space in your home as your official reading nook, and make it as cozy as possible in order to associate reading with comfort and relaxation. It's as simple as slipping on your softest slippers and lighting your most cherished candle to set the mood.
Get a book subscription box.
Make reading exciting with a monthly gift to yourself by choosing from a variety of book subscription boxes. A couple of suggestions? BlackLIT curates selections by Black authors, The Page 1 Book Subscription has their creators choose a read for you based on a detailed profile, and My Thrill Club specializes in crime, mystery, thrillers, and horror.
And to get you excited to read even more...
O, the Oprah Magazine's book editors curated a list of 2020's best books.
View the original story on OprahMag.com: 20 Ways You Can Read More Books in 2021.