Calling all my fellow bookworms! Today we’re going to talk about how to become a better reader.
I’ve loved reading since I learned how to make sense of letters on a page. I carried a book with me everywhere. In fact, I remember bringing a book to the dinner table one time and my mom giving me the look. “No books at the table,” she would say, but I remember her letting me get away with it at times, too.
First, I’m not writing this to teach you how to become a reader. That’s something you have to make a commitment to in your personal life. No, I want to give you tips that will help you become a BETTER reader. I want to share with you how reading has revolutionized my perspective as a business owner.
When I was in college I was given reading assignment after reading assignment. That’s what studying humanities and social sciences will get ya. I didn’t hate my assignments, but I didn’t relish them either. Something about getting assigned a book to read takes the magic away from it - especially when it’s a NON-FICTION book.
But when I started Wellness Words in 2020 I changed.
I started to become interested in non-fiction books.
Books have made me a better wife, content creator, Christ-follower, daughter, engaged citizen, and business owner. I’ve bettered myself through something as simple as a few pages a day!
It’s like this, when you set out to become an entrepreneur, (a health entrepreneur in your case) there’s so much you don’t know. You look to google or to people you admire for help, and even possibly a mentor who can guide you. I don’t want to diminish the value of real-life people, but a book has the potential to do just that - mentor, guide, and answer your questions!
Books are wonderful sources of information and they’re not only for nerds and workaholics! They can be enjoyable, relaxing, and a fun way to learn.
One caveat - the tips below are going to be subjective. They’re what work for me. I don’t talk about audiobooks or SparkNotes because those aren’t methods that work for me. I would rather sit in bed with my Kindle or a physical book, dog earring and underlining pages and quotes (and trying to dry the occasional tea stain).
I’ll share my full list of books that I read at the end of the year, but here is my current top ten that I plan to read in 2021:
On Writing: A memoir of the Craft By Stephen King
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life by Twyla Tharp
Master Content Marketing: A Simple Strategy to Cure the Blank Page Blues and Attract a Profitable Audience by Pamela Wilson
Six Figure Freelancing by Kelly James Enger
Boundaries by Henry Cloud
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast by Laura Venderkam
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk
Without further ado, here are my tips on how to become a better reader:
Carry A Book Everywhere
“Books are the perfect entertainment: no commercials, no batteries, hours of enjoyment for each dollar spent. What I wonder is why everybody doesn't carry a book around for those inevitable dead spots in life.”
― Stephen King
My first tip is to carry a book everywhere, because like Stephen King says, the inevitable dead spots in life will catch up to you.
They include: the doctor’s office waiting room, standing in line, getting your car oil changed, lunch breaks by yourself, picking up your kid from the car line, etc.
Those times are bound to happen, how about instead of scrolling through Instagram you try reading a book. I toss my kindle in my purse anytime I leave the house in case I hit a dead spot and get some time to read.
Read Every Day
Take it in baby steps.
You don’t have to read 100 pages a day!
Try 20 or 30 pages. Whatever number you choose, make it small and make it a habit. The way to achieve this is by being consistent and choosing an achievable goal. Here are a few recommendations on when to include your daily reading based on what I do:
Morning - after my Bible reading time I like to spend several minutes reading a religious or theological book. I do this with my breakfast so I can kill two birds with one stone.
Lunch - this will force you to take a break from work if you’re like me and you struggle with stepping away. Read with your lunch or spend 15 to 20 minutes reading after your lunch before you step back into the office.
Evening - reading before bed is my favorite way to get ready to snooze. It’s much better for my brain than scrolling social media. I try to read physical books rather than my Kindle before bed. There’s something about the power of soft pages on my eyes and fingertips.
Get Recommendations From People You Admire
Maybe you’re great at reading but you struggle to come up with books you’re actually interested in reading.
This may seem like a no brainer to you, but it helped me tremendously. The best way to get inside someone’s head is to read what they read, or better, read what they write! Some of my favorite books I’ve ever read are by people I admire like Timothy Keller, C.S. Lewis, and Dave Ramsey.
Find the people you admire, and then figure out what they read/write!
I can’t believe I didn’t know what Goodreads was until last year. It’s THE social media app for bookworms. Sometimes I think there is a negative connotation with social media but Goodreads doesn’t have that AT ALL.
On the app, you can be friends with others or follow them. Authors also usually have a Goodreads account. You have three categories you can add to: read, currently reading, want to read. You simply search a book and add it to one of those three categories. You can even integrate your Kindle so quotes you highlight and reviews you write show up on the app.
My favorite part about Goodreads is the Goodreads yearly reading challenge. You commit to a number of books you want to read each year and as you read them it tracks your progress.
Creating a list of “want to read” for the year and then using the yearly reading challenge to stay on track has been phenomenal for making me a better reader.
Read A Mix of Genres
This is especially important if you're not a reader.
It’s very easy to get burnt-out on non-fiction.
I like to read two books simultaneously: one fiction and one non-fiction. Some people think that’s heresy and refuse to read another book until they're completely done with the first. That’s fine, but remember to switch up your genres!
“I still love books. Nothing a computer can do can compare to a book. You can’t really put a book on the Internet.”
– Ray Bradbury
The first thing that comes to mind is a book club.
A book club is a wonderful way to meet new people AND read new books!
Besides the Goodreads yearly reading challenge, I like to challenge my husband to a reading contest. We were both collegiate track athletes so competitiveness is second-nature. I usually win because I’m faster at reading than him, but it keeps us both accountable and it’s fun.
Try to find other people who like to read who can help hold you accountable. It could be a text every now and then asking about your favorite quote or what you’re planning to read next. Heck, it could even be a Facebook group! You can get creative with ways to encourage yourself to read. The point is that it’s an encouragement, not a stressor.
Don’t Be Afraid To DNF
I still struggle with this one, but it can be so freeing when you finally let yourself STOP reading a book you hate.
I’m such a stickler for seeing things through to the end. The problem with books is that there are SO many. Even if I read a book a day for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t come close to reading all the books ever written. That’s a sobering thought for a book nerd like me.
My practice now is that if I dread to pick up a book and I’m not even 100 pages in I DNF (do not finish). Then, I move right on to the next book on my list. Our time on Earth is limited, so you betta believe I’m going to read what I like.
Reading gives us the ability to become someone else, or to see outside of ourselves. It’s magic, telepathy actually! Words have the power to create bridges between brains, I think that’s why I like them so much!
I hope these tips help you become a better reader! Being a health entrepreneur can be hard, books make it easier.
What books are you reading this year? Head over to my Instagram to let me know!