“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ― Charles W. Eliot

If you’re like me, you have a stack of half-read books on your nightstand. And in that corner of your living room floor. And then there’s the To Read list on Good Reads or Pinterest or in your phone’s notes. Reading is a joy. It expands you. Transports you. Challenges you. Entertains you. And almost everyone I talk to wants to read more.

According to Health Line’s article “Benefits of Reading Books: How It Can Positively Affect Your Life”, reading even has a host of health benefits, including:

Reducing stress.

One “study found that 30 minutes of reading lowered blood pressureheart rate, and feelings of psychological distress just as effectively as yoga and humor did.”

Preventing age-related cognitive decline.

“A 2013 study conducted by Rush University Medical Center found that people who’ve engaged in mentally stimulating activities all their lives were less likely to develop the plaques, lesions, and tau-protein tangles found in the brains of people with dementia.”

Potentially helping you live longer.

“A long-term health and retirement study followed a cohort of 3,635 adult participants for a period of 12 years, finding that those who read books survived around 2 years longer than those who either didn’t read or who read magazines and other forms of media. The study also concluded that people who read more than 3 1/2 hours every week were 23 percent likely to live longer than those who didn’t read at all.”

Here are some easy tricks to help you read more this year:

Explore essays and short stories. If you only have short bursts of time to read, reading collections of short stories or books of essays will give you the satisfying sensation of completing full story arcs without the time commitment of sitting down with Anna Karenina or Crime and Punishment.

Take your book with you. Then you’ll have it to read when you find yourself waiting for an hour to get your driver’s license renewed at the DMV.

Get in bed early or wake up early. Those quiet hours are golden for reading, especially if you’re a parent and the kiddos are asleep.

Join (or start!) a book club. Are you the kind of person who needs a healthy kick of peer pressure to get the book read? A book club, in person or virtual, is the perfect way to ensure that you read at least a book per month. Plus, reading the suggestions of your friends, rather than the genres you always gravitate toward, will expand your literary palate.

Borrow time from mindless social media scrolling.  If you intentionally cut out the pointless 5-minute bouts of Instagram scrolling throughout the day, I bet you’d get your work done more quickly and find that you’ve saved at least 30 minutes that you can dedicate to reading at the end of the day.

Try audiobooks.  Audiobooks are the quintessential busy reader’s hack. With audio, your books travel with you on your phone. Any task that doesn’t require your brainpower, from cleaning out your car to raking leaves, becomes an opportunity to be read to.

Read with someone else.  Sometimes we don’t read because when the dust finally settles after dinner, that’s your time to connect with your spouse or your family. Read with them! Exploring new worlds and new thoughts in new books will give your relationship fresh air and fresh topics to muse about.

What’s next on your To-Read list? Happy reading!


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