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This year is only a 1/3 of the way complete, and I’ve already accomplished loads more than I did in all of 2014.
I talk a lot about goals and dreams, and this post is no different. I periodically check my spreadsheet—oh yes, I have a spreadsheet where I have all of my goals listed and I track their progress, because it’s just so much more fun that way—to see what goals I need to be focusing on.
One goal for 2015 was to read more books. In 2014, I read five books. Five. And I call myself a writer! Sheesh, that’s depressing. They say good writers read, but I was not reading. I recall off the top of my head at least nine books that I read in 2013, but in 2014, I really slacked. (Watched every episode of Gossip Girl and How I Met Your Mother in 2014 though!)
So this year, my goal is 10 books. That’s not too outrageous, considering my husband’s goal is twenty! But when I wrote down that number, I felt genuinely scared because deep down, I didn’t think I could ever accomplish it. That’s a lot of books and a lot of time! My husband wakes up before me and reads while sipping his coffee. I’m sure that’s a beautiful picture, with the sun rising and the steam of the coffee awakening the day. But despite my best intentions, I snooze and sleep through alarms. When the alarm is buzzing, waking up early just to read sounds appalling. Why read when I can sleep?
Oh yes, reading is important and makes me a better writer and makes me smarter, blah blah blah. I read all of the time when I was in grade school, but since college and the advent of Netflix and streamable television, I stopped reading for pleasure.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of reading. The whole image of me curled up on the couch listening to the crackle of the fireplace enraptured in a story drinking tea, because tea looks fancier than coffee. But reading doesn’t always feel like that, or ever look like that, for three reasons:
1. Unless you’re reading romance novels or mysteries, there aren’t a lot of great story books for adults. It’s more appropriate for adults to read memoirs, biographies, business books, history books, or self-help even.
2. Most of those other books—especially the business books I tried reading in 2014 to feel smarter—are BORING. Or they’re way too technical to hold my attention. Finding a good book can be difficult.
3. I live in an RV in Texas, so Lord knows I never curl up by a fireplace to read.
However, despite my misgivings and apparent pessimism, I’ve completed six books this year already, and I’m in the middle of a seventh. In four months, I’ve already read more than all of last year! Me! (I’m proud of myself, can you tell?)
I realized that there were three main reasons for not reading enough in the past few years:
1) I can’t afford new books, or don’t want to spend $25 on a new hardcover book.
2) The books I think I should be reading sound too boring for me to bother picking up.
3) No one has recommended any good books to me. Not that I can remember, anyway.
Once I realized what prevented me from reading books, it became a thousand times easier to start reading
If You Can’t Afford A Book
- Get a library card! I save so much money borrowing ebooks from my library while I’m travelning.
- Us Kindle Owner’s Loaning Library (You can access this if you have Amazon Prime) or Kindle Unlimited.
- If you travel often like us, utilize RV libraries. Most RV parks have a collection of books on site for you to browse.
- Use a Kindle. For Christmas, Heath bought me a Paperwhite Kindle (one that reads more like a book and less like a screen) and I was hesitant to use it. I’m a writer. Aren’t we supposed to defend the use of paper books? But I love my Kindle—especially for traveling! It’s lightweight and I’ve easily read 4 books on it so far.
- Help an author launch their book. This year, 3/6 books I’ve read were free and given to me directly by the author. If there’s a writer who you follow online or really admire, ask to help with their next book launch. Authors need early reviews to help their books sell and are more than willing to send you a copy before the release date in exchange for help promoting the book. (Plus, if you’re a wannabe/soon-to-be author like me, it gives you great behind the scenes knowledge of how a book launch really works.)
If You Don’t Know What to Read
- Ask a friend to borrow a book. Heath has used Kindle for years and has collected dozens of books that I inherited when I married him. Whenever I need a book to read next, I scroll through his library and pick one out.
- Google best books to read for (description of yourself). There are tons of articles out there listing the best books for entrepreneurs, writers, millennials, etc.
- Use Amazon Wish List. Every time I see an interesting book online or in the store I add it to my Amazon Wish List. Now when I’m in the market to buy a new book, I can look at my list and see all the books I’ve marked (which is roughly 60 books currently).
To Get In the Habit of Reading
- Read something easy. Don’t start with Pushkin. Start with Lord of the Rings or anything by Donald Miller. Start with something that reads easily or has a strong story to suck you in.
- If you don’t like the book you’re reading, get rid of it. This is my biggest problem. I don’t want to be that girl who starts books and doesn’t finish them. But I also don’t want to waste hours suffering through a boring book! If you don’t like it, give it away. Sell it to Amazon. Don’t waste your time.
- Compete. Currently, I’ve finished more books this year than my husband (Yeah Heath, I’m bragging). Granted, he’s reading Atlas Shrugged which is over 1,000 pages, but still! I started and finished my last book in less than a week because I wanted to brag to Heath that I’m winning. Some people say accountability partners help, but competition is way more fun.
Okay now after looking at my Amazon wishlist I want to order all of those books. The more I read–at least the more I read good, interesting books–the more I’m inspired to read.
Here are the six books I’ve enjoyed this year:
- The Art of Work by Jeff Goins – Jeff’s book is designed to help you figure out what you’re called to do with your life, not in a cheesy self-help way, but in a way that makes your dreams feel possible
- Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang – Which I wrote more about here
- All Groan Up by Paul Angone – Which I shared hilarious quotes from here
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – Fascinating read about how you develop and can change your habits.
- Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella – I am not a shopper, but I read this book to take a break from non-fiction with a good story and learn a little more about how to get out of debt. (Spoiler: the answer is make more money)
PS For those of you following along with our debt journey, we have currently paid off 23.5% of our student loan debt in 2015. Our goal is pay off all of our debt by the end of the year. Current balance remaining: $20,962.72