If your New Year’s resolution is to read more, I’ve got you covered. First, we’ll discuss why you should want to read more in the new year and then I’ll give you some tips for how to read more. I have a free download available to help you decide each month which book to read! If you follow the printable, that means you’ll read twelve books this year.
Why should I read more in the New Year?
- Reading improves your memory and can help ward off dementia and Alzheimers. A really fascinating study done by Rush University followed aging adults until they passed away. After their deaths, they were autopsied for signs of dementia and Alzheimers. The adults who were avid readers showed a 30% less memory loss than the average person in the study and these avid readers had the least physical signs of dementia compared to the other adults in the study. Challenging your brain by reading frequently, doing puzzles, or learning new skills are all immensely beneficial in improving memory and warding off dementia, no matter your age. The old adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is just not true – as long as you keep challenging your brain, more neural connections will grow, and this will protect your brain against the natural decay of aging.
- Reading can help with stress and depression. One study showed that reading can reduce stress by as much as 70%. Another study discovered that reading for 30 minutes can minimize stress as much as a 30 minute yoga session! Not only does reading reduce stress, but it also can provide an escape when you need it, gives you opportunity to have a different perspective and allows for contemplation that other media avenues don’t necessarily provide. There is even a type of therapy for people with mild to moderate depression that revolves around reading called bibliotherapy.
- Reading improves sleep. Particularly if you read before bed, reading can improve your sleep for several reasons. If you’re reading a physical book, your blue light intake is reduced and this is very helpful for your sleep patterns. Reading also reduces cortisol (a stress hormone) and relaxes you, getting you ready to sleep. Of course, a good book can also keep you reading until late in the night…so take that into account!
- Reading makes you more empathetic. When you read (especially fiction) it allows you to see and experience something from another person’s perspective – which is, essentially, empathy. We may never know what it’s like to live through a war, compete on horseback, or learn how to do magic, but when we read about it, we experience those things as if we’re really living it. And the more we stretch this empathetic muscle, the more we can use it in real life.
Tips for Reading More in the New Year
- Pick a time to read. This has been the most beneficial for me. I’m a reader – I love to read. But I’ve read far more books this past year because of one simple change: instead of cleaning, doing chores, or working on the blog during my kids’ quiet time/nap time, I decided to read. In 2021, I read 22 books. After I made this small change, in 2022 I read over 70 books. 70!! So, pick a consistent time to read and find out for yourself what a difference that will make!
- Find books you actually like. This is a big one. We all want to line our shelves with classics that make us look smart, like One Hundred Years of Solitude or War and Peace. But that also might be what’s keeping you from actually reading. So this year, I give you permission to not tackle the classics – and just pick a book that calls to you. What are you interested? What kinds of movies and TV shows do you love? Read books like that.
- Turn off your phone. This is a hard one, I’ll admit. But putting my phone to bed a little after my kids go to bed has been so helpful for me with reducing stress, having good quality sleep, and reading. It’s not healthy that we’re so accessible all of the time to anyone. How many times have you checked your text messages right before bed and seen something that keeps you tossing and turning? Or how many times have you been scrolling through social media right before bed and you see something that makes you sad, frustrated or restless? Just put it away. Pick a time that your phone goes to bed, and put it out of sight. Then you can enjoy a good book, time with your spouse, or just quiet time.
- Read before bed. We already discussed that reading before bed can improve your sleep. This past year, my husband and I have decided to turn off the TV 30-60 minutes before bed and it’s allowed me to do A LOT more reading – in addition to healthy habits like stretching before bed, journaling and taking a bath. Trust me, this is a good habit to get into.
- Use audiobooks. I like reading physical books, but my husband doesn’t. He does, however, love listening to audiobooks and he ends up consuming A LOT of books that way. Don’t feel bad about your pension for audiobooks – embrace it and let it work for you. Listen to books while you work out, on your drive to work or your kids’ school or even before bed.
- Utilize your local library. Books can get expensive. Like I said, I read 65 books this year and bought a bunch of them – I know firsthand that they can add up. Especially if you’re reading physical books or audiobooks. However, the local library is an amazing resource and you don’t even have to step foot into a library to utilize its resources once you have a library card. There are a couple wonderful apps that connect you to the library’s resources – namely Hoopla and Libby. I’m sure there are others, but those are the two I use. Hoopla has a ton of audiobooks, so check there first if that’s what you’re looking for. Once you connect your library card to the apps, you can borrow tons of books for free. It’s amazing and it’ll save you tons of money!
- Have a plan. That’s what I’m here for! Below I have two options for a reading plan for 2023: a list of spiritual book topics as well as a list of fiction topics. So you choose which book you want to read, but I give you a topic to narrow it down and make it a little easier for you. Pin these to save them, and you can subscribe to my email list to get reminders, specific book recommendations, and a summary of what I’m reading on those months. When you subscribe, you’ll get the PDF print version of these lists so you can print them out and put them on your fridge or use them as a bookmark!