Reading is pretty straightforward. You grab a book, you open it, you read the words and find yourself transported to a whole new world of ideas, fantasy, knowledge, wild imagination — ideally at least. But in the age of ebooks, smart phones, apps, and news feeds, it’s not always that simple anymore. There’s not enough time, there are too many distractions, there are too many other demands for our attention, and, of course, there are still the age-old reading issues like hand cramps and figuring out what to read next.
Happily, this age of ebooks, smart phones, apps, and news feeds also offers up some great solutions and reading hacks that can not only solve so many readerly problems, but also improve the reading experience. Improving the reading experience isn’t just the realm of the digital though. Some good old creativity can also do you and your reading life worlds of good.
Whether you’re looking to find more time in your busy day to read, looking for an easier way to tackle a thousand-page beast, or just need an easy, cheap book stand, there’s a hack for you. A little creativity (and an app or two) goes a long way.
1. When You Can’t Read… Listen!
Audiobooks are the answer for people who always want to be reading. Amazon’s Whispersync lets you sync your ebooks with the audiobook version so you don’t have to waste frustrating minutes trying to find your place in the audiobook. Now, there’s also OverDrive, which allows you to break free of Amazon and sync ebooks and audiobooks for other platforms. So, you can read your ebook on the train and listen to the audiobook during your run, or, with bluetooth shower speakers, even in the shower!
2. Read Big Books In Tiny Pieces
If you’re intimidated by the size of Ulysses or just don’t want to strain your wrist or weigh down your backpack with you books, the DailyLit app will send you short installments of books at regular times that you choose. You pick the book, you determine how many pages you can read at a time and when you can read them, and DailyLit will get you the right amount of reading at the right time.
3. Read While You Wait
You might not always have time to set aside to get cozy and read for an hour, but everyone has several chunks of a few minutes here or there throughout the day — 10 minutes of waiting in lines, waiting for the pasta to boil, while you do laundry, waiting for the train to arrive, waiting for your (ahem) bathroom business to conduct itself. Instead of checking for new emails for the hundredth time, crack open your book. All those 10 minutes add up, and before you realize it you’ll be halfway through your bookshelf of unread classics.
4. Lock Yourself Out of Your Phone
Look, we’re living in an online world and you’re just an online girl. We alll fall victim to the evil addiction of scrolling. Even with a book in hand you may soon find yourself swiping and tapping and checking your e-mail just one more time, you know, in case there’s something life-alteringly important. You’d think getting some offline time might be as simple as turning off the phone, but we’re all weak weak creatures who can’t deny the allure of Facebook or a perfect emoji text. That’s where apps come in handy. Apps like Flipd, App Detox, or even a straight up Parental Control app let you control how much time you spend online, on certain apps, or even just lock you out of your phone automatically at certain times of the day. It’s basically like putting a Do Not Disturb sign on your little window to the Internet. Finally free of the urge to status update, you can dive into a good old-fashioned hardcover.
5. Spare Yourself the Reader’s Cramps With a See-Through Book Weight
When you want to read Middlemarch and have a hand free for tea or a pen, book weights really come in handy. And finally someone realized that a big old clunky weight big enough to hold open a thousand-page tome is also big enough to obscure half of the page and make for some really awkward maneuvering while reading, basically making the book weight more trouble than it’s worth. The solution: a see-through book weight! So simple, so brilliant, so perfect. Or...
6. Make A Book/E-Reader Stand Out Of A Coat Hanger
You know, instead of spending $20 bucks on a piece of plastic to hold your books up.
7. Choose Your Next Read With A Little Creativity
Can’t decide what to read next? Want to branch out of your usual genres a little? Try choosing your next read via. a TBR Jar. Or you could use the Decide Now! app and make wheels for genre, setting, or lead protagonist and spin the wheel! Or, if you’re really (really) ambitious, make a random book dispenser. Or, I suppose, you could just let the Internet do it for you and head on over to What Should I Read Next?
8. Make a DIY Book Haven
Setting up a special place for reading is a recommendation to make reading feel like a special thing for children, but we grown-ups are just taller children. Having a special place designated for reading will not only make the experience more amazing, it will also help you focus and really immerse yourself in the book. And let’s face it, we need all the help we can get to focus in this busy busy world full of tweets and emails and blogs begging for our attention. You don’t have to have a window seat or carpentry skills to build a good reading nook. Get creative and use whatever you have on hand — pillows, a tent, even milk jugs or a kiddie pool will work.
9. Turn Your Physical Books Into Ebooks… For Free
So you got a new Kindle for Christmas, but you don’t want to re-buy all the physical books stacked next to your bed. You can get the ebook versions of some of your physical books for free. With the Shelfie app, all you have to do is take a picture — a “shelfie,” that is — of the books you want to get the ebooks for and Shelfie will do the work of finding the free ebook versions for you.
10. Get A Box of Books Every Month
Want to stay up on the latest books but don’t have time to scour the bestsellers reviews and spend hours browsing and sample reading at the bookstore? Or maybe you’re just a little lazy. Either way, you can get books (and quirky little book-related trinkets) shipped to your front door every month. There are themed book boxes like Owlcrate’s YA boxes, or The Book Drop’s historical and literary fiction boxes.
11. Get Free Books
The Internet is conspiring to give you free books. Seriously. Between review copies on Goodreads, book swapping sites like Paperback Swap, and free public domain ebooks and audiobook archives like Project Gutenberg and Librivox, you could probably read for the rest of your life completely for free.
Images: jazmineantoinette/Unspalsh; Giphy (11)