The new year is upon us, and for bibliophiles and casual readers alike, adding more books to your yearly repertoire can be high up on your list of resolutions.
Like any promise you make at the beginning of the year, sticking to your goal can be a bit daunting. But alongside hitting the gym or whipping up more salads, reading more books also can be a rich, rewarding and relaxing experience. Here’s a list of tips to stay on track in meeting even the most ambitious 2018 reading goals.
Goodreads might be the greatest website ever. You can sign up with your email or Facebook account, as well as connect with others to see what your friends are reading. Think Spotify for the spectacled, but with even more resources and tools.
The site lets you keep track of all of the books you’ve read or are reading, allowing you to update your progress throughout a title. I’ve found that seeing this progression in real time helps motivate me to keep going.
The website also has a handy “want to read” list, which you can add as many titles to as you wish. Keeping this on hand when you’re on a bookshop quest makes life so much easier — no more aimlessly wandering the shelves (although that has its benefits, we don’t always have a million hours).
The best part of the website? You can set a reading challenge for the year, which automatically gets updated when you mark a book as “finished” on the website. Like seeing the progression of an individual book, this is a great way to visualize your progression toward your goal.
Set realistic, enjoyable goals
Speaking of goals, be sure to pick an amount you can stick to. Don’t feel like you have to read a certain amount of books to feel empowered or knowledgeable — any goal met is something to celebrate, and we all have different schedules. If your life is busy, try starting with one book a month. You can always increase the number later if you’re flying through pages easily.
I set a 2017 goal of 25 books last year and ended up getting to 30, so this year I’ll start at 30. Also, have fun with what you read, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Try alternating between fiction and nonfiction, or explore genres you never have before, to keep a fresh curiosity.
That being said, if all you want to read is within the same genre, that’s cool, too — whatever helps you meet your own personal goal. If I said I didn’t read 10 high-fantasy books in a row last year, I’d be lying.
Look for recommendations
If you’re in love with a certain book, try scouring the web for similar titles. Goodreads has a great browsing section for this, and often websites will have “readers also bought” sections on them.
I’ve also found Reddit to be a pretty good resource for crowdsourcing/brainstorming of titles. Try checking out the Books community and other subreddits or topics.
However, heading to your local bookshop or library can often be the best way of finding something new. A lot of these places will have staff recommendations along the shelves, and booksellers and librarians are happy to help you find the perfect book.
Love your local libraries and bookstores
Hey, our libraries are wonderful. And with the passage of Measure Y, the sales tax that pours $10 million annually into the Sonoma County Library’s budget, it’s clear that many residents feel strongly about keeping them as a resource for the community. If you don’t already have a library card, grabbing one takes maybe 10 minutes, and you’ll have a whole new world to explore. The other benefit is that many libraries, including in Sonoma County, let you check out e-books with your library card via OverDrive, a service filled with digital content. Their app is called Libby, and it’s user-friendly and fun.
Don’t forget to visit local bookshops such as Treehorn or Paperbacks Unlimited (shout out to my fellow readers on a used/trade-in credit budget), or Copperfield’s, which often hosts literary events that can be great motivators to finish a good book.
The age of e-readers
If you don’t already have an e-reader, it’s a pretty amazing investment. For a long time, especially as a former bookseller, I thought I would burst into flames if I even touched one of these, but when I finally relented and bought one, I was glad I did. You can easily carry hundreds of titles with you wherever you go, which makes fitting in reading throughout your day much easier (unless you’d prefer to lug a pile of 20 books around with you while you run errands and wait for the doctor, which would be pretty amazing, and more power to you). They’re also wonderful for traveling.
I still always prefer having a physical book on hand because they’re easier for me to read, so I’ll often pick one that I’m really into to throw in my bag, and have my e-reader as a backup.
Join a book club
This is easier said than done, but there’s nothing worse than finishing a good book and having no one to talk to about it. Goodreads has the option to create book clubs online, and you can join them from their site as well. I’ve joined a couple that have upward of 1,000 people in them, and it’s mostly so I can lurk and get ideas on what to read next — but you can actively participate, too. Alternatively, try using sites such as Meetup to find book groups, or even use it to make your own. Often, community centers or churches will have book groups too, or at least resources to find them.
Don’t be afraid to put the book down
OK, I usually give myself until about page 100 for a book to pique my interest, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Don’t feel pressured to finish it, and move on. Reading should never be a chore — it should be a fun challenge for the year.