I used to be an avid reader, but somewhere between schoolwork and being a full-time working adult, I couldn’t manage the time, energy or interest to leisurely read… until it hit me: I haven’t picked up reading again because I have been worried about being judged on what I read (or don’t read). I know this sounds silly, but I’m a writer and I haven’t read a lot of classics. I’m a global citizen, and I don’t read nonfiction (unless it’s self-help or memoir). I never finished the Harry Potter series, and I don’t enjoy celebrity memoir.
But I guess I forgot how personal reading and the experience of choosing and enjoying (or not enjoying) books is until this year.
And now that I’ve rediscovered the joy of reading and being obsessed with book culture, and in honor of #NationalBookLover Day, here are 7 things I do (that you can do, too!) to include everything book-related into my life.
1. A Reading Challenge
My friends and I started a reading challenge back in January to get us to read more (if we weren’t reading enough already), and to get us to read outside of our usual wheelhouses. Here’s the challenge and everything I’ve read so far this year.
2. Individualized ‘Book Clubs’
And while reading can be personal, it’s also a fun bonding experience to have with friends. If there’s a book both my friend and I talk about wanting to read, I’ll suggest “book clubbing” it and reading it at the same time. It’s exciting to be able to talk to someone in real time about what you’re currently reading. So far, I’ve read The Husband’s Secret with a friend who lives cross-country, I’m currently “book clubbing” Americanah with my sister in London, and I’ve discussed reading IT with a book-loving friend in NYC.
If I’m not reading on my commute, I’ve found a couple book culture/book podcasts that have been quick listens. Reading Glasses is one of my favorites. With only half-hour episodes, this podcast talks about books, has interviews with authors, provides helpful reading tips, and teaches you something new about book culture every week. Not to mention there’s a Facebook group that is just a bunch of book nerds nerding out, and I love it. (Also BookRiot podcasts are great, too — Get Booked and All The Books.)
It started with Book of the Month, which I heard about last year and was urged to join by a friend (hi, Teela!). I only subscribed for a few months (because I hate hardcovers), but it’s an excellent way to know what’s coming out each month and to be up-to-date on modern fiction.
This then led to me joining Goodreads so I could have a place to mark all the books I want to read/have read, which led to joining every bookish newsletter you could think of, from Buzzfeed to local bookstores. Man I sound like a dork, but I’m okay with it.
5. Bookstore Tours + Events
Every city and town has cute local bookstores. So earlier this year, my boyfriend and I made it our mission to visit bookstores around the city and made a little map. Geeky? Yes. The best thing ever? Yes.
Not to mention, all these bookstores have readings and events that are usually free. So I’ve been making more of an effort to go to literary events, like this one, where I can nerd out with authors and meet other bookworms!
6. Travel + Books
Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m an avid traveler. So to combine my love of everything books with travel, I make it a point to visit local bookstores or libraries and either buy a local bestseller or a book with that city as the setting in it. Or I’ll get some kind of fun book-related gift, like a funky bookmark or a candle to light while I read.
Also, I just learned about the airport “Read and Return” program, and I promise it’ll change your life too.
7. Library Card
Since buying all the books isn’t feasible, sadly, I finally got a library card late last year and have been using it to pick up books I wouldn’t necessarily buy but still want to read.
(Something else about libraries: They have audiobooks if you’re into that, and they host book swapping events, which are a grand idea.)
The more of a nerdy bookworm I become, the less I care about what people think of what I read, and the less I feel bad about putting a book down I’m not enjoying. Reading should be fun and in today’s state of the world, it should serve as a positive distraction. Never not have a book on you, stop watching so much TV and happy reading!