Did you make a resolution to read more diverse books, more own voices books, or just read more in 2017? With the first month of the year nearly wrapped up already, you might already have found that your 'Read' list is not accurately reflecting your aspirations.
Reading is such a personal activity, and so much of it can become a habit. When we let ourselves get used to picking up books by the same author, in the same genre, or recommended by the same people, the problem of reaching our reading goals becomes two-fold. If you're not reading beyond your comfort zone, you're missing out on some of the best, most challenging, most interesting books, and you're likely not reading books written by diverse authors or including diverse characters. And you're likely not reading as much as you want to, because, let's face it, you're probably bored!
But there are some easy ways to remind yourself of your reading goals, make sure that you're picking up books that are important to you books that excite you, and books that open you up to new experiences and new people. And if you love making lists, you're definitely going to love these tips.
1. Create a Book Blog or a Bookstagram
One amazing way to keep track of the books you're into and to become part of the larger book community is by taking your reading online. Two great ways to do this are starting a book blog or an Instagram account for posting bookish stuff, commonly known as a Bookstagram. Writing a review or posting a photo for every book you read will give you an easy to digest visual indication of the kinds of reads you have been gravitating towards, which you help you keep up the good work or encourage you to make a change! An added benefit is sharing your love of books with a welcoming, like-minded community. Not to mention that scrolling through endless aesthetically pleasing shelfies can also be a great inspiration and motivation to read.
2. Keep Track of the Year's Book Releases with a Weekly Calendar
With so many amazing releases coming out every single week of the year, it can be more than easy to just forget about many of the books you were once so highly anticipating. Buy a calendar or a notebook specifically for plotting out the book releases that you are most excited for and most eager to read. You can get even more in-depth by color-coding releases based on genre, highlighting or marking the books that are high priority reads, and even designating diverse and own voices books with special stickers or symbols. Keeping everything in one place will take make choosing your next book quick and easy, so you can read more, agonize over your TBR less.
3. Commit to a Monthly TBR
Speaking of TBR's or To Be Read lists, you should probably make one. Thinking about your yearly reading resolutions at the beginning of each month will help you to choose books that fit into your goals. Want to read more frontlist? Add a couple of new releases to your TBR, so you know to either head out to the bookstore or request them from the library. Want to read more nonfiction? Make sure there's at least one of your TBR every month. One huge tip is to be honest with yourself about how many books you can read in a month and plan accordingly. If you read an average of 8 books a month, maybe choose five that directly relate to your reading goals, and leave the other three for impulse buys, non-goal related reads, or re-reads. This way you won't feel bogged down by the rules, but you're still actively reading with more intention.
4. Join a Book Club or Take Part in Read-a-Thons
It's obvious that community plays a huge role in challenging yourself to read more widely. But the online family of book readers is not the only place to hang and if you are looking for a more social aspect to reading a book club might be just the thing. You can join a book club that focuses on reading diversely like Bustle's American Woman Book Club, which meets monthly both virtually and in real life, or just find a fellow bookish friend whose reading goals look similar to yours a pick a book a month to read together and discuss over coffee or drinks. You can also find buddy reads happening all the time on Bookstagram, as well as Read-a-Thons like this week's Diverseathon. Having someone else to keep you in check on your reading habits will be a huge help with sticking to your intentions.
5. Dedicate More Time to Reading
Yes, you're busy. Yes, sometimes all you want to do at the end of a long day is watch Netflix or a movie, or just fall face first onto your pillow and go to sleep. But the only way to read with more intention is to actually read in the first place. Figure out the times when you are mindlessly doing something else (scrolling through Twitter for the hundredth time in an hour, staring listlessly out the train window into the black, re-watching that same Friends re-run) and read instead. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you need to set aside hours of time to get any reading done. Read with your morning coffee, read on your commute, read during your lunch break, read in a bubble bath, read for fifteen minutes before bed. All of those little bursts add up to a whole lot. You'll be surpassing your Goodreads goal in no time.