I had many goals I wanted to reach at the beginning of this year. Some I am struggling through and will probably not reach my desired goal. And that’s okay. Progress isn’t a straight line. As long as you put in as much effort as possible, then that trumps any shortcomings.
When I was a kid, I spent any free time I had with a book. Anytime I was finished with a test and waiting for the other kids to finish, lunch periods (mostly because I didn’t have a lot of friends) and spending countless hours after my bedtime binge-reading Twilight and Harry Potter. However, as life went on and my responsibilities became more abundant, it became difficult to find the time to sit down and read like I used to. There barely is enough time in the day to do everything else I need to do, let alone any spare time to even sit down and unwind. And no book is worth ruining my precious sleep schedule, no matter how good of a book it is.
When I was deciding what I wanted to accomplish in 2021, I knew I wanted to get back into reading like I used to. I wanted to be able to consume books like I was running out of time to read them all. I regularly track my reading through GoodReads. One feature that I use regularly is the Yearly Reading Challenge. This allows you to set up a reading goal of the current year and tracks weather you are ahead, behind, or on track to completing your goal. This really helped me keep up with my reading and challenge me to discover new books every single year.
One of my long-term mutual on GoodReads always supersedes their goal of 100 books every year. Every. Single. Year! They always seem to find the time and energy to finish at least 100 books, novels, etc. before the year is done. Its currently October and they are at 150 completed books. It’s insane! I never thought that I would come close to reading that many books in a 12-month period. But I figured there is no time like in the middle of a pandemic to start a new challenge.
I began this challenge on October 22nd, 2020 I know. It is a little odd that I didn’t wait until the new year to start, but I have the attention span of a walnut. Therefore, if I have an idea about something, I have to start it as soon as its fresh in my mind. Otherwise, it would become another idea lost in the vast abyss that is my mind.
Getting into the habit of picking up a book every day was proving harder than to be expected. Like I said- attention span of a walnut. I would sit and get through about a page and a half and I would get distracted by something or someone. The AC kicked on? I got up to make sure it was running correctly. My dog started barking? I had to get up and see what he was barking about. It was like by brain was looking for any excuse not to focus on the one thing I wanted it to do.
Around the time I started committing myself to this challenge, my work schedule started to pick back up again, along with business beginning to open back up, I was starting to get more productive during the day. Between everything else I had going on it was difficult to even find the time to unwind in the first place.
So, I started off reading in small increments throughout the day. A few minutes on my lunch break, a few minutes at the dog park or in the doctor’s waiting room. 15 minutes turned into 30, then 45, and eventually I was spending half of my day reading a book, just like I used to.
This went on for a while before I started to hit a wall. Yes, reading slumps are actual things. After looking at a computer screen for 8 hours a day, I really didn’t want to focus on anything at the end of the day. My eyes were already tired, and I had about a thousand other things on my plate I had to get done before bed. Being an adult is basically never having enough hours in the day and constantly complaining that there aren’t enough hours in the day.
In order to reach my goal by October 2021, I calculated that I needed to finish one book about every 3 or 4 days. And A LOT of books I currently own are about 250-1,000 pages depending on the book. So to save some time I started looking into possible solutions. I asked some of my fellow avid readers if audiobooks were considered as reading; and I luckily got a lot of affirmations from many people that they in fact counted as long as I was paying attention and fully understanding the story.
Author Note: I realize that there many differently abled individuals who rely on audiobooks as their only source of access to reading. No one should be shamed or ridiculed by their choice of reading source materials.
I would be listening to audiobooks in my car, in the grocery store, doing laundry, etc. this method turned out to me a huge time saver. Also, any time I was able to sit down and read I always had a physical book with me at all times.
For the most part, challenging myself to read more has given me back my passion for books. For a long time books were a way for me to escape all of the chaos that exists in my life. Reading has gotten me through some pretty bad times in my life and has always been a part of my life. Take it from me when I tell you that books can save your life.
So, pick up a book- or six- today and get into the fantastic world of literature
(P.S. Spicy books are the best way to get out of a reading slump)