We’re halfway through the year already — yikes, more than halfway. How did this happen? And are you worried? Forget that nonsense about how the days are getting shorter — you won’t notice that until sometime in late August, when the slant of the sun is suddenly a buttery gold and the shadows grow long. The real issue is this: Where are you with your reading goals?
Since my goal is simple — to read everything — I can cheerfully tell you that I’m failing miserably. But we’re not here to talk about me. We’re here to talk about you.
Did you plunge into summer books, as every publication (including this one) suggested you do? Did you make it through the big books of spring? Have you finished last year’s big books? (Do you even remember what they were?)
Do you feel like you’re falling hopelessly behind? What do you mean, you’re busy?
Help, as you might have expected, is on the way.
Here’s a quick list of 10 tips on how to pack more reading into your life. (Why 10? Because tips always come in lists of 10.)
I can’t promise these suggestions will help you meet your reading goals. (What do you mean, you don’t have any reading goals?) But I guarantee that if you follow them, you’ll find yourself reading more.
1. Do not read at night. You’ll read one paragraph, maybe two, before falling asleep. Might as well just give in and watch reruns of “Modern Family” until you conk out.
2. Read in the morning. I know it sounds goofy — aren’t mornings for working out, walking the dog, reading the newspaper, guzzling some orange juice and then flying out the door? Yes, they are. Definitely. So don’t stop doing any of those things (especially don’t stop reading the newspaper). But morning is also a great time to get a little book reading done, maybe while you’re eating your Cheerios. (This is also a very good time to write. But we’re not talking about that now.)
3. Take mass transit and read on the bus or train. If it’s too noisy (as it often is), just put in some earbuds, but don’t turn on music — too distracting.
4. Read several books at once. No, not literally at once, but have several books going. You might not always be in the mood for that gigantic serious biography of Vladimir Lenin, so you need something lighter as backup.
5. Put down your phone. Unless you’re reading a book on it. Which sounds excruciating.
6. Read while you’re cooking — while you’re thickening the gravy (stirring only takes one hand), preheating the oven, waiting those odd nine to 12 minutes while a pan of cookies bakes, or waiting to flip the burgers on the grill. Just make sure you don’t get too engrossed — or have a fire extinguisher ready. (Better yet, use a timer.)
7. Always carry a book with you. Open it up when you’re at your kid’s soccer game, or getting your oil changed, or waiting for your doctor appointment, or your dog’s doctor appointment. (Do not read while you are driving, nor while you are waiting for the light to change.)
8. Schedule reading time. Seriously — you set aside time for TV, don’t you? (“Mom! ‘Bonanza’ is on!”) You can do the same with a book.
9. Read something you love. If you’re enthralled by a book and eager to get back to it, you will.
10. I repeat, Put down your phone. It eats up more time than you realize.
All of these tips could really have been boiled down to the last one: Whenever you’re tempted to take out your phone to scroll away a few minutes, take out a book instead.
Like you used to do, once upon a time.
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune senior editor for books. On Twitter: @StribBooks. On Facebook: facebook.com/startribunebooks