Back at the beginning of January, when people were excitedly sharing their New Year’s Resolutions with each other, I noticed quite a few people talking about how they wanted to read more in 2020. Since then, the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic has changed how we function in our day-to-day lives, and some of the things we wanted to accomplish in 2020 may have become significantly less important to us as a result. While it’s certainly okay (and sometimes necessary) to change your priorities, it’s also okay to still want to accomplish the things you resolved to do this year.

With everything that is going on in our world right now, it might seem a little odd to be talking about New Year’s Resolutions, especially since the resolution I’m focusing on is not related to staying physically healthy (an important goal for all of us right now). But I feel that resolutions involving reading are important, and not just because picking up a book is a great alternative to watching television. For me, reading provides not only entertainment, but also the chance to escape from the things that are stressing me out in the real world. If you’re someone who still wants to “read more” in 2020, here are some of my thoughts to help you accomplish your resolution…

One of the difficulties in sticking with this type of resolution is the fact that it doesn’t fully express the desired outcome. The phrase “I want to read more” is actually kind of nebulous when you stop and think about it. You want to read more…what? Read more books? Read more frequently, or for longer periods of time? Read more nonfiction? Read more books with your children? There are a lot of possibilities here, and without narrowing your options a bit, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the idea of “reading more.”

For those of you who want to increase the number of books you read each year…

Take a moment to go back and look at the books you finished last year. Did you tend to read really long novels, or books with very complex plots or topics? Were you reading the “classics” instead of current popular or genre fiction? If this is the case, a change of book length or genre might be all you need to increase the number of books you finish this year.

I’ve found that certain types of books take me more (or less) time to read than others. For example, Randall Munroe’s What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions took me about three days to read. In that same amount of time, I could have read a 25-volume manga series. Because science is a difficult (though interesting) subject for me, books about science take longer to read. Manga, on the other hand, tells a story mostly through a combination of art and dialogue. Many of the manga series I read are very fast-paced and action-oriented, so I have a tendency to read them much more quickly than other types of books.

Length is also an important consideration when it comes to reading a large number of books. It’s really just a matter of math. In the amount of time that it takes you to read one 900 to 1,000-page book, you could read four or five 200-page books.

For those of you who want to read more frequently…

Are there moments during the day when you could read, but choose not to? Back when I was still a classroom teacher, I always carried a book in my purse so I could read during my lunch period. If you find yourself spending your break checking emails or your social media accounts, you might consider using that time to read a chapter of your book instead.

If you are currently working outside your home and have a long work commute, you could listen to an audiobook as you drive (as long as you’re not distracted from driving, of course). I don’t listen to a tremendous number of audiobooks myself, but I do occasionally enjoy listening to audio dramatizations of Shakespeare’s plays. One of my favorites is The Tempest.

If you’re finding it difficult to concentrate on reading…

Even though reading provides us with a chance to escape the real world for a while, I occasionally find myself having a difficult time concentrating on a book. Sometimes this happens because the plot of a book reflects an issue I’m currently struggling with a little too vividly. It also has a tendency to happen if I am really stressed out.

If you find yourself in the same situation, one of the following suggestions might be helpful to you…

  • Select titles that you are truly interested in reading.
  • Consider avoiding (just for a while) books with plots revolving around:
    • terminal illnesses,
    • pandemics or plagues,
    • or medical mysteries/thrillers.
  • Spend some time reading manga, graphic novels, or comic books.
  • Go back and read a book that you loved when you were a kid.
  • Borrow humorous or lighthearted ebooks from your local library’s website.

If “a lack of time” is stopping you…

The honest truth is that we will carve out time in our day for things that are important to us. Some of us make a point to watch the news every morning with a cup of coffee, while others just have to make it to the gym before going to work. If achieving your goal of “reading more” is truly important to you, try setting aside a specific time during your day to spend time with a book. You can even make this a family activity by reading to your children, or by giving them the opportunity to read to you.

If you’re currently trying to get your 2020 Reading Resolution back on track, I hope these ideas have been helpful to you. If you have any additional recommendations, please share them by commenting on this post. You can also respond on Twitter by following me @UnapologBkworm.

Please stay healthy and safe, wash your hands, and enjoy a good book this week!

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