Posts tagged improving your reading life
Improving Your Reading Life: Just Put it Down

I think we're pretty much all been there: your TBR stack is staring at you accusingly, but you can't get to it because the book you're currently reading is going sooo slowly. And it feels like a chore. So you avoid it. And nothing gets read. And you start to feel guilty or irritated. 

The moment you find yourself avoiding reading because you don't want to read the specific book you're working on, it's time to give yourself permission to put it down and mark it off as DNF (did not finish). Reading that feels like a chore feels so terrible, and often we feel obligated to finish a book we started, no matter how much we may not want to.

This happened to me pretty recently, there was a book I was reading that I just wasn't clicking with. I genuinely felt like I had to finish it, even though the rest of my TBR looked so much more enticing! It took me over a week to let go and just put the book down. A week

I don't know about you guys, but it is REALLY hard for me to not finish a book. There's the whiff of failure and the lingering sense of guilt that comes with setting a novel aside unfinished. My rational brain knows that I'm an adult and I should use my precious time reading what I want to read, not what I feel like I should be reading, but it's hard to keep that mind set sometimes.

Consequently,  I've been really practicing giving myself permission to not finish a book, and reminding myself that it will always be waiting on my shelf or available at the library if I want to return to it. My time is so limited, I have to remind myself not to waste it on books that don't fulfill me, or excite me, or make me eager to pick them back up. 

Sometimes a book just isn't for you right now. It could just be not what you're in the mood for, the wrong season, hitting on something that feels sensitive to you at the moment, or any number of other things. You can ask yourself: what makes you abandon a book? Sometimes there's a clear pattern, but sometimes it's just natural whims.

I tend turn away from certain themes and writing styles, and since I know that I don't enjoy them, when they do pop up in a book I'm starting, I tell myself it's okay to just put it down. I've read enough books I don't like, that I'm getting adept at spotting when it won't be an enjoyable read for me. And that's okay! Not every book is for everyone!

In the end, just make sure you read for fun. Read for inspiration, for thrills, for love; read anything and everything you want to read, but don't read books you aren't enjoying. We all should feel free to ditch what isn't working for us. Plus, you'll get a lot more reading done when you don't spend days hung up on something you're not loving, and that's always a good thing!

What as the last book you set aside without finishing? When do you know it's time to give up on a book?




Improving Your Reading Life | Find a Great Spot to Read

Welcome back to our 2017 series about improving your reading life! We've talked about getting inspired to read and some tips to find great new books, embracing reading slumps, and what a difference audiobooks can make in your reading life. Now that you have a book in your hands (or ears) you can't wait to start, it's time to settle in somewhere comfy to dive in!

Most of you, I'm sure have a go-to reading spot in your home, probably on your couch or in your bed; somewhere you can get cozy and snuggle down for a solid reading session. We know exactly where we like to be in our own homes! I think that's going to be most people's default mode, but warmer months especially provide ample opportunity to break out of your routine and find a new reading spot that you enjoy.

First, think of places you naturally find relaxing and low key, somewhere you could settle into and where the background is suited to lull you into that magical place where you stop noticing the actual words on the page and are just fully immersed and flying through the story.

Do you have a local beach or lake that you can take some snacks and a drink out to and just lay out on a beach towel or under an umbrella? I find beaches particularly easy to read on, because the crashing waves provide ambient white noise, and I can mush the sand around to support my arms or back or prop up my book even. I love the fresh air and the warm, relaxing comfort of beach reading so much.

Or how about the bustling hum of a local coffee shop? I'm sure you've noticed how many people use them to study, and sometimes having so many people around you intently focused on something makes you want to focus on what's in front of you too. I find the buzz of people around me really comforting and I sincerely enjoy reading in this type of setting. Plus, great caffeine and baked goods, what's not to love?

Parks are another great resource if you'd like to be near other humans, but want some fresh air. Take an iced coffee to go and spread a blanket out under a tree, or find a tucked away bench with a view. Settle into a novel, take some breaks to people watch, and you've got yourself a highly pleasant afternoon.

Maybe you have a great outdoor space at home? Rikki has a wonderfully lush, gorgeous garden space in her backyard that she's created, complete with a swing and a two table sets she can choose from. How fun to take morning coffee out and pass some time in the company of a great novel and some quality sunshine. Bonus points for her chickens softly clucking, bees buzzing around nearby wildflowers, and a puppy dog or two at her feet.

I've got a more simple outdoor set up, but I love taking a pitcher of iced tea out with me to sit and read with the umbrella up at my table and my toddler playing a few feet away. I've also seen people with crazy beautiful back porches and amazing balconies I'd just love to read on!

Often we don't have the luxury of uninterrupted time to ourselves, so we make the best of it, and find ourselves reading at the park with our kids, or sitting out on the waterfront while they throw rocks into the Puget Sound. We are definitely the type of people who feel naked if we don't have a book or a Kindle in our bags at all times to pull out whenever we have a spare few minutes to read. 

Whichever spaces make sense for you, take advantage of them and enjoy the diversity of reading out and about, as well as settling into that perfect spot at home.

Tell us about your favorite place to read, or show us by tagging #TheArdentBiblioReads!

Happy reading friends!

Improving Your Reading Life | Audiobooks

Audiobooks can be a powerful tool to increase your reading while making everyday activities a lot more fun.

Welcome back to our series focused on improving your reading life this year! We've already covered getting inspired, and now it's on to how to pack more reading into your day effortlessly! Enter: audiobooks. Audiobooks are a seriously amazing tool if you're busy (like us!) with work, life, and kids, and just want to sneak in more reading into the pockets of time you can't physically hold a book. Here are some of our favorite tried-and-true ways to build more listening time into our everyday lives.

  1. Listen to your bookclub book- Like many of you, I belong to a book club, but my own TBR often dominates the time I have to sit down with an actual book, especially with library deadlines! For me, listening to my bookclub book on audio while I'm doing other things gives me ample time to finish it during the month without feeling rushed. It works shockingly well!
  2. Listen during your commute- If you have a commute, you know how much time you're spending in transit not doing much of anything. Play an audiobook on your trip to work whether you're driving, taking the bus or train, or even riding a bike (headphones!) and start getting some more reading in.
  3. Listen while doing chores- My pet-peeve chore is cleaning my kitchen, and of course it's something that needs to be done frequently. Same thing with folding the endless mountain of laundry my family seems to generate. Instead of dreading these tasks, I look at it as free time I have to spend with an audiobook to listen to another chapter or two, and suddenly it's something I look forward to doing instead of a tedious chore.
  4. Listen while exercising- I run 3 miles every day and I swear I would not have the motivation to get my butt out the door each day if it weren't for the promise of listening to an audiobook (or podcast) while hitting the pavement. It's usually one of the primary motivating factors, to know I get to pop in headphones and have some time to myself to listen to something I truly enjoy. It feels like recharging. 
  5. Listen with kids- Rikki and I both have kids, and that means we've got a great opportunity to listen to some great books along with them. Whether in the car or at home, kids always appreciate listening to a great story, and it can be a wonderful bonding experience to talk about the book with them and to choose what to read next together. 

P.S. The library is our FAVORITE place to get audiobooks :)

                         When is your favorite time to listen to audiobooks? Let us know!

Improving Your Reading Life | Get Inspired

Welcome to our 2017 series about improving your reading life! We'll be sharing ideas and strategies to increase your reading and simple, effective ways to make your reading life richer and more rewarding.

The first step to kickstarting your 2017 reading is to get inspired to actually read and finding titles you're going to love. It's hard to feel motivated to read when nothing is feeling compelling enough to pick up, so finding that title you're eager to start is crucial.

Here are a few ways we personally find books to add to our TBR and get excited about reading!

Talk to friends: If you have friends who read, the people who know you are probably the most likely to recommend something you'll love. My best friend and I have swapped books from our personal libraries and traded recommendations for years, and I credit her with putting some of my very favorite books in my hands. Books are great for conversation, too and if you've both read a book you can spend some quality time discussing it. Plus, friends will often buddy read with you, which is even better!

Podcasts: There are some amazing bookish podcasts out there, and a variety of formats to find books you might love. You can listen to podcasts about new releases, about women authors, about diverse novels, about science fiction and fantasy, about personalized reading recommendations, and much more. Pretty much any genre or format you could want is out there waiting to add a pile of books to your TBR.

Blogs: Of course, book blogs are plentiful nowadays and reading someone else's description or review can kickstart an interest in a title. This goes for Goodreads as well, and exploring the bookish side of the internet is going to turn up tons of exciting options for you with minimal effort.

Local bookstore recommendations: One of the best things about local bookstores is their curation and the staff's intimate knowledge of the stock. Generally staff picks and recommendations are littered on brightly colored paper throughout the store, and can be a great source of inspiration. These people generally read a lot and know what they're talking about! Don't be hesitant to ask a bookseller for a specific recommendation either, they'll be thrilled to nerd out about books with you, trust me. 

Wander the library: Few things rival the pleasure of a quiet hour wandering amongst free books! Pick out anything that appeals to you and don't worry about any reviews. Trust yourself, read a few pages to get a feel for it, and take home anything that strikes your fancy without fear of wasting money. I found my very favorite author this way, actually! Giving new titles a chance means you might discover a hidden gem you can recommend to everyone else you know! 

How do you guys get inspired? Leave a comment below to tag us #TheArdentBiblioReads!