Whether you have always been an avid reader, or are just beginning to actually have the time, reading is super-important for empty nesters. Here are 20 ways to read more books, now that the house is a little quieter, and now that you’re spending less time at the grocery store.
Reading by Example
Before I encourage you to read more books, I need to assure you that I’ve been practicing what I’m about to preach. In fact, this has been a whopper of a book-reading year for me. Man Alive! (as my stepdad was known to say), a real bonanza, if you will, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it, too. I’ve read good fiction, interesting non-fiction, books both by familiar authors and ones I’ve never read before.
What a great year of reading 2020 has turned out to be.
Last year, I read a pretty good total number of books as well (37), but this year, I knew that I could, should and would be able to read more books. So, off and running I went, straight out of the gate. From January 2 to December 13, I read until I reached my goal of 50 titles in 12 months!
Getting a Little Twitchy?
Now, if you’re reading this blog post and getting a little twitchy, feeling more pressured than inspired to read more books, it may be the result of a couple different issues.
Either you’re feeling a bit of inner guilt, a certain measure of bookish envy perhaps, wondering why in the world you didn’t spend your long Covid-crazy hours doing something more worthwhile and productive.
On the other hand, some of you have a fierce competetive streak, so you may be feeling more like a Kentucky Derby race horse, picked to win. Favored by the odds. You’re mentally pawing at the dirt, wanting with everything in you to hurry up and get into the race to read more books. I mean, my goodness, if she can read 50, I can surely read 55.
Either way, I hope what’s going on in your head right now will make its way to your heart, and books will become your jam for the entire year to come.
Readers Over Fifty
Even though I’ve always loved to read, I’ve never been able to knock down a list of 50 titles in a year. I was too busy as a teeenager. My reading time as a college student was spent attempting to get through thick textbooks.
After I got married and started a family, I read what the kids were reading. Which is different. I was able to read, just not as much as I wanted to. Those were the years of juggling so many balls in the air and a to-do list that always felt a mile long. Reading for my own pleasure was an activity that went mostly by the wayside.
Now that the empty nest is where I live (with Mr. Sugar Muffin), I simply have longer blocks of time to read more books. However, 50 is still a lot of books to read, before and after work, and also in between all my weekend adventures.
Wouldn’t you think, though, that all empty nesters are book-reading fiends like me? Well, I did a little research to find out, and the answer may surprise you as much as it did me.
In truth, those of us Over Fifty do NOT read more books than other age groups.
Nope, my friends, we are actually lagging behind all the others, including Millennials. That’s interesting to me. Do you think perhaps our eyes no longer tolerate the strain? Or, hey, maybe we’re just spending too much time binge-watching on Amazon Prime? And then again, maybe we’re simply too preoccupied with perfecting our golf game.
We Really Need to Read
While I’m not sure why we don’t read more books than our younger friends, I’m absolutely sure that we should. Reading does a lot to keep our minds activated for today and stretched for tomorrow. It promotes cognitive health, helps with concentration, and actually improves memory function.
The knowledge and information we pick up from what we read also gives us much fodder for interesting conversation, as well. Our kids love to hear our life stories, but they also appreciate time spent with us in discussions regarding deep topics, spiritual insights and fresh ideas. All of those things are bi-products of reading!
So, if you’re a bit more motivated to read more books than you were when you clicked the title of this post, it’s time to figure out how to weave more reading into the fabric of your everyday life.
20 Ways to Read More Books
Here are 20 ways for empty nesters to set a lofty goal, hit the ground running and read more books.
- Listen to audio versions of books while walking, working out at the gym, or during the night when you wake up for no apparent reason. (Anyone??)
- Check out bestseller lists to find titles that strike your fancy.
- Join a book club.
- Ask friends what they’re reading and if they want to recommend something for you.
- Gain a deeper understanding on a subject you really enjoy by choosing several titles that relate. Historical biographies, travel books, cookbooks, finance and business books are all easy to search for on Amazon. Most bookstores also have sections dedicated to books of special interest.
- Ask the kids if they want you to read something that pertains to their lives; i.e., parenting, job-hunting, investing.
- Read outside. Plop down for a few minutes on a park bench, open up your Kindle app and read a chapter or two before completing your walk.
- Visit college libraries. One friend says he really looks forward to visiting the huge library on the campus of his alma mater. Some of his favorite trade magazines are plentifully stocked on shelves close to a table where he can sit and read. Not only that, his favorite library is home to an on-site Starbucks. Coffee plus magazines = win, win!
- Make reading the first priority of your day. I love to get up before daylight, read my Bible, then switch to books for a good hour of reading before the sun comes up.
- Make a new habit of reading a chapter before bedtime.
- If you live with a TV watcher, get him or her some Apple airpods. Your honey-bun can keep watching while you keep reading, noise-free.
- Read what your grandkids are reading in school. Many required middle school reading lists include Newbery Medal winning books, which are pretty good reading for adults as well.
- Read all the books your pastor has written.
- Read books by published authors you know (or follow on Instagram).
- Choose a great series. Many bestselling authors have written great series of 3-30 books. That’s a great way to stay in the reading mode. This series by Debbie Macomber is one of my favorites. I also love the Mitford series by Jan Karon. And I’m still reading through this great historical Christian fiction series by Gilbert Morris.
- Read books out loud to your spouse. Mr. Sugar Muffin likes for me to read Grisham books out loud to him when we’re driving down long stretches of Texas highways. We also read this great title by Skip Hollandsworth several years ago and still talk about the mystery behind it.
- Read at coffee shops or restaurants.
- Read on your phone while sitting at the doctor’s office or waiting at the DMV to renew your driver’s license.
- Visit independent bookstores for inspiration.
- Attend author talks, purchase a signed copy of the book, and then hurry home to read!
A Couple More Tips
Here are a couple more tips that might help you read more books.
Plan your day, week, month or year around the time it will take you to read more books by checking out this website. Simply type in the name of the book you want to read, and the time it should take you to read it pops up on the screen. I’ve already planned my whole year of reading, y’all. And I used this website to calculate how much time per day I’ll need in order to meet my goal. I can read more books than ever before if I’ll simply allow myself .972 hours per day to do it!
Another way to read more books is to track your reading on Goodreads. You can easily keep track of books you want to read, as well as books you’ve already read. You’ll also enjoy setting a challenge to read more books for the current year. At the end of each year, you can click on your Year in Books and see cover images of all the books you’ve read. But there’s a lot more to enjoy on Goodreads as you track your reading.
On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!
Are you inspired, dear friends? Great. That’s just what I wanted to hear.
Drop a comment and let me know if there’s a book you’d like to recommend. Or feel free to share what you’re planning to read first on your big list for next year.
Encouraging a life filled with everyday intentional adventure, while carving out some time to read more books,
PS: Let’s be friends on Goodreads! You’ll find me here.
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