If you make a decision to start watercolor painting or photography or gardening as a hobby, there’s lots of classes to take and internet resources galore.
But, what if decide you want to start reading as a hobby? Where do you go?
Consider this your Reading 101.
Reading is a great hobby. One of the best, one of my favorites, for sure. After a half century of passionate reading, I’ve learned some things that serve me well.
To start a reading hobby, you need to decide what matters, find your favorite book genre, build your book stack, add reading to your daily and weekly rhythms, track your reading and share as much as you want.
Will this be a Solitary or Group Hobby?
If you need more social interaction around your hobbies, consider a book club.
If you’re more introverted, consider jumping into the #bookstagram community, sharing your favorite reads on instagram and building your stack via other’s recommendations.
You know yourself better than anyone else. You know what will work best for you. Or, you will know after you try something that doesn’t work.
Name What Matters
I’ve embraced Kendra Adachi’s philosophy of life management wholeheartedly, and I believe this is a critical step.
What matters to you?
Connecting with the children in your life through story?
Strengthening your faith by increased understanding?
Releasing the burden of a current difficult reality?
What do you hope to gain?
Most hobbies offer the chance to unwind, reduce stress, unplug from work or learn something new.
When you name what matters, you’re light years ahead in creating a hobby that will serve you well.
Decide if you’re reading for information or entertainment.
For many people who read as a hobby, what matters is a chance to temporarily immerse yourself in another world and momentarily forget the reality you live in.
For others, it’s the quest of new information that sets off the endorphins in the pleasure of discovery.
Sometimes, reading ushers in a better understanding of the world and our place in it.
What could matter?
Uninterrupted time with no demands or expectations.
A guide for our thoughts, to keep them from sinking into anxiety or depression.
The beauty of inspiration and truth.
Solitude to think the deeper thoughts of life.
The chance to connect with minds separated by geography or decades.
Lots of great reasons to start a reading hobby.
After you name what matters, you can build your hobby to reflect those values.
If solitude and uninterrupted time is part of the equation, you might to have to work hard to get away or turn off notifications.
If you’re looking for the beauty of inspiration and truth or a guide for your thoughts, then building your book stack becomes the most important objective. What you choose to read will make all the difference. Choose with care.
Find Your Favorite Book Genre
A good short cut for finding your favorite books is to find your favorite book genre. Once you’ve nailed that down, it’s easier to find books you love.
In the process, you might stumble across a favorite genre that surprises you.
Try Whichbook.net if mood and emotion is important to you.
Build Your Book Stack
Find a book whisperer.
If you’re having trouble finding books you love, look for a book whisperer whose tastes are similar to yours. Someone trustworthy.
You Tube is a good place to look. There are a lot of book tubers there.
Instagram is another good place. Check out the #bookstagram hashtag. Or find authors or book bloggers you like and follow them there.
So when you find someone, hold on with both hands.
And don’t be too disappointed with the ones who let you down. It’s an ongoing process, finding a voice to trust.
Capture book recommendations on your phone when a book hits your radar via a friend or media blurb.
Add Reading to Your Daily and Weekly Rhythms
Multi-tasking might be a requirement for survival.
One of the best ways for busy moms to multi-task is reading books to their kids that they enjoy as well. This kills a lot of birds with one stone. Teaching empathy and other character traits to your kids, for instance. Bonding and building shared memories. A chance to sit down and stop hounding the kids to do chores or stay out of trouble.
Of course, when you’re building your book stack, some books will interest only you.
That’s when the rhythms of your day and week come into play, when you find the pockets of peace and quiet to pursue your reading hobby.
Some seasons of life will naturally be more conducive than others.
Are your week days packed and your weekends more flexible?
Or do you run non-stop on weekends and have a chance to breathe during the week?
Do you have a regular day off every week?
Work is endless.
Sometimes we need to schedule the rest, and stick to the rest schedule.
How do you normally organize your time? Do you plan down to 15 minute segments or go with the flow. However you manage the hours of your life, recognize that making time for hobbies will enrich the rest of your life.
You aren’t ignoring your responsibilities, you’re investing in yourself.
When time gets squeezed how for your hobbies, you have less to give to your life’s work. Steven Covey calls this sharpening the saw in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Along with exercise and reflection, they help you keep your life on track.
Pair with a Favorite Beverage
Nothing says “time off” like sitting down with your favorite drink, hot or cold.
Refreshing the mind, body and spirit at the same time just makes sense.
Organize or Track Your Reading
What if you’re not a naturally organized person and the idea of organizing your hobby makes you break out in hives? Understood. You can certainly approach it in a more informal, relaxed way.
I tried Trello as a way to organize my books, and I like it.
It’s a good set up to capture To Be Read lists as well as Already Read and Favorites lists.
Goodreads can also work well as a tracking and organizing tool.
Share as Much as You Want
You can share what you’re reading with the world on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Goodreads.
You can share with a book club, or you can start a reading club like Kendra Adachi suggests.
You can write book reviews on a blog or on Amazon or Goodreads.
Sharing doesn’t even have to be part of the equation. Finish one book and pick up another. Go back to what matters to you. If retreating from the world is what you’re after, sharing might not even be part of the mix.
This is your hobby, you can shape it to be however you want it to be.
Once you’ve named what matters, it’s easier to know when you’re hitting the target.
Reading is one of the greatest hobbies out there. However, it’s easy to get stuck and never realize the full potential of this great hobby.
Don’t give up if you get stuck. There’s a way out! Perservere. It’s worth it.
Your reading life can be as individual as your fingerprint.
Hobbies help us unwind so that we can work better. Tweaking our hobbies to work for us is in everyone’s best interest.
Which Books Should You Pick First?
There’s some wisdom in the advice of starting with shorter books when you’re just starting out.
But, even more important is starting with awesome books to get you off to a good start.
Here’s a few of my top picks.
If learning about life management is fun for you, try Atomic Habits by James Clear or The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi.
If you enjoy morally commendable, well-written novels, try Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry, Peace Like a River by Lief Enger or The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey.
If you’re looking for something to read together with the young people in your life, check out Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery or The Boys in the Boat, youth edition by Daniel James Brown.
If riveting memoir is your thing, I recommend Educated by Tara Westover and Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi.
Incredible true stories? Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand or Endurance by Alfred Lansing.
This is Jane.
Jane is overwhelmed by the daily tornados in her life.
But she can’t quit her job and she can’t sell the kids. Not that she wanted to, of course. The thought never crossed her mind. Ever.
Need more book recommendations? Explore more book lists on the Smart Mamas Read blog.