Saying “Yes” and “No” to Books and Reading

Inspired by the latest season of The Simple Show, I shared what I say “yes” and “no” to, in order to make our home a place that lines up with my priorities. Today, I’m going to share my yeses and nos when it comes to books and reading.

I love to share about what I’m reading, especially over on Instagram, and it’s one of the things I get asked about a lot. Over the years, I’ve had a lot of friends (especially moms!) say they wish they had time for reading, and I’ve had other people say it’s really hard for them to find books they like.

The truth is, I love to read, but I didn’t do much of it for awhile. (Thank you, college.) There was a time when I only read for school assignments, and then I didn’t make the time when I was teaching. One day, it hit me: I call myself a reader, but I’m not really reading. I resolved to fix that and haven’t looked back.

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Things I say “No” to when it comes to reading:

I say no to annual numerical reading goals. I know some people set out to read one book a month, or one book a week, or set out to read more books this year than they did last year. I don’t because I never want to feel like I am behind or failing. I want reading to be motivated by pure joy. (I say this, but at the moment, I did actually set a goal to read 10 books before the end of the year. So, I guess none of these things is set in stone!)

I say no to rereading books, except once in a great while. I have a very select handful of favorite books that I have reread, and I will occasionally reread something I read as a child but don’t remember. Still, for the most part, I operate with the belief that I will never have time to read everything I want, so I better keep moving!

I say no to mysteries and thrillers. I don’t really like suspense, guys! I say no to mysteries and thrillers and as a result, there’s a huge category of books I don’t feel any pressure to get around to.

I say no to buying books (much). I absolutely love the idea of having a home absolutely full of books, but I also hate clutter. Not to mention, our budget is tight these days. So, I ask for books for holidays and birthdays, and I grab things from the Free Little Library next door, but other than that, I borrow from friends and the library. Occasionally, I’ll go back and purchase a book I really loved.

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Things I say “Yes” to when it comes to reading:

I say yes to reading as much as I possibly can. This is the key. I don’t read nearly as much as some people, and I do like an occasional television show. I don’t feel guilty about it, but I make a point to read as much as I can. The feeling of making progress through a book is a thrill to me. And of course, this requires saying “no” to a lot of other things: watching much television, scrolling through social media in my spare time, etc.

I say yes to reading multiple books at once. I used to only read one book at a time. But then, if I wasn’t in the mood for it, I was stuck and not getting any reading done. Now I always have more than one book going at once, so that I have multiple options to choose from according to my mood.

I say yes to reading on my phone. I don’t love e-readers, and I definitely don’t love reading on my phone. BUT. It’s always with me, and if I have a book option loaded on the Kindle app, I’m less like to waste time in the social media black hole.

I say yes to quitting books. Life is too short for bad books, or even good books that aren’t for me.

I say yes to the voices of people who are different than me. This is a new one. If you looked at most of the books I’ve read in recent years, they are primarily written by white, Christian women. I firmly believe that one of the biggest problems in our country right now is an inability to understand the experiences of those who are different than us, so I’m making a point to read books by authors from backgrounds much different than my own. Primarily, right now, this means choosing books written by people of color.

So, there you have it. Reading is extremely important to me, but it takes careful and intentional prioritizing and decision-making to make it happen. When I think about how I want my children to remember me, truly, I want them to think, “Mom was a reader.”

I’d love to hear from you about this! How do you make time for reading? Are there any genres you avoid? And are you a book quitter?

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