10 Tips to Read More Books

I keep getting comments from people on social media and in real life about how much I'm reading right now, during my summer vacation (basically a book every two or three days). The books I'm finishing are generally in the 250-350 range and are all pretty much contemporary literary fiction with a smattering of non-fiction thrown in, so they're not like easy YA novels or anything (but to each their own!). I'm not a speed reader by any means, and I tend to clock, on average, about 45 pages an hour, accounting for various interruptions. That means, for a book of 300 pages I need about six and a half hours to read it, give or take. Here are some ways I've amped up my reading during my off-time:

1. Add it to your to-do list- I have a to-do list every day, always, so I'll either add an item that relates to pages or time. I'm a pretty devout to-do list follower, so if it's on there I feel obligated to get it done. 

2. Always carry a book- You never know when a fast appointment actually runs slow, when your lunch date will be running behind, or when you stop for an impromptu splash-pad visit and you can get in a few pages. 

3. Set your phone aside to limit unnecessary pick-ups- I hate myself when I do it, but I too am a random-phone-picker-upper while reading. I try to keep my phone on the kitchen counter or somewhere else out of reach more often these days. 

4. Set a timer and tell your kid/partner to shush- This sounds harsher than it is, but now that Sawyer is five, I don't feel bad telling him that I'm going to set my phone timer for twenty minutes to read and that when it goes off he can show me his LEGO creation/drawing/Magnet Block tower etc... He's getting better and better at respecting my time, and he always knows that he'll get my attention when it goes off. Plus, it's a good skill as an only-child for him to have. 

5. Read while treadmill walking- I can't read while running, but during the hot summer I spend a fair amount of time walking on the incline. I've been leaving an easier paperback on my treadmill so that I can do something productive during my workout time, rather than just look at my phone.

6. WATCH LESS TV- Yes, I'm yelling. At you. (Well, only if you're trying to read more and are an avid TV-watcher... the rest of you can go right ahead and carry on). During the school year I watch less than 4-5 hours of Netflix, but now that it's summer I probably clock in at closer to ten hours. I get it, it's a great way to unwind, but from a quick Google search I see that the average adult watches anywhere from 3.5-5 hours of TV A DAY. Even if you cut out an hour and devoted it to reading you'd get through an extra book a week. 

7. Set a goal- Goals are fun to accomplish- who doesn't feel good about themselves when they reach a benchmark? Even if you don't make it you'll still get further along than before, which totally counts. Goodreads will make it so much easier for you if you start using the app, with charts and emails. My son right now has a goal of 100 books for the summer and we mark off a box on his little paper chart every time he gets there, and he's so excited to see his progress. 

8. Be social- Join a book club, get your friend to read the same book, join Goodreads, participate in #bookstagram, etc... Reading is often a solitary activity, but it doesn't have to if you don't want it to be. I LOVE being in our English department book club, even though we struggle to get people to participate (WHY????) and it's often just three or four of us. If you don't want to commit to a club, encourage a friend to read the same book and then pick a date a few weeks away to meet up for coffee and discuss. 

9. Start easy- If you're out of the habit of reading a lot or are in a rut, choose a book that might be a tad easier than your normal choices, either in writing style or content, and get back into the groove of things there. I do this all the time- after a heavy, long book, like, say Overstory by Richard Powers, I'll definitely pick up some Sedaris or something like that to help give me a little literary break.

10. Read while you eat- Chances are, there's at least one meal of the day where you eat alone and just look at your phone. For me it's often breakfast, lunch when I am working, so I try to replace that time at least a few days a week to read.


Summer Reading So Far

My summer vacation is a little over half way done, and I must say my reading game has been strong. It's my goal to read fifteen books, and I think I've finished my ninth, five of which have been in July. 

There are a few reasons why I've been able to. First of all, I've made an effort to put my phone away for longer chunks of time, which is an obvious time saver. Sawyer is also older now, so he plays more independently, and I can also tell him, "hey, I need fifteen minutes of time to read with no interruptions, I'll set a timer and we can talk when it goes off." I've started reading more on the treadmill as well, and I make sure to always have a book on hand. I've been reading a variety of books, both in terms of nonfiction/fiction, subject matter, and complexity. 

I'm also really proud of how much reading Sawyer has been doing, both in terms of his progress learning to sound out words, reading with me, and looking at books independently. He loves looking at Where's Waldo books in the car or in waiting rooms, which has been awesome (he getting so good at them, too!). We made a chart with 100 squares that he gets to mark off each time he helps me read a book (that can either be him sounding out all the words he's capable of, or something more relaxed, like him just doing some sight words like "the"). When he fills up his chart he gets to go to the book store and pick out whatever new book he wants. It's been fun and he takes his little marks super seriously. 

I am super  bummed about my time off going by so quickly, but I'm pretty confident I'll surpass my goal. It's always been my mode of escapism.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

1. Since we've last talked there have been not one, but TWO, earthquakes. I have an intense fear of them (lack of control, blablabla), which I know is unfortunate given that I live in Southern California. The first one hit while I was at the park with Sawyer and the second, much stronger, one hit the next evening while we are at home. There was no damage whatsoever done to my home- we are about 115 miles away from where the epicenter was, but I haven't felt one in many years so I was not happy. To put this in perspective, there were some really bad wildfires five miles away from my house last year and I all I did to prepare was close the windows and turn on the AC.

2. My goal was to start my Etsy shop when I had ten embroidery pieces ready to sell- I just finished number 8, so I'm maybe a week away! I honestly don't have any real expectations about the whole thing, but it's something I've been thinking about doing for like six months and am just going to pull the plug. I'm nervous about pricing, as I don't want to sell things for too much, but I also put a lot of work into what I've created as well (hahaha, I sound like such an asshole). If you want to follow along check out my insta account @daily_floss_ . My most recent hoop is the tree one above! 

3. I started Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, the much-buzzed about book of the sumner, and it's absolutely fascinating. I'll write a longer post on it when I am done, probably, but I think that a lot can be said about it in terms of content, as well as this sort of booming "literary nonfiction" genre. 

4. I hate it when you don't need validation for something, and aren't trying to get any, and someone who you don't want any from whatsoever so magnanimously gives you some. Like they pity you and are throwing you a bone? But in reality you don't care what they think and the whole encounter just makes your skin crawl? UGH.

5. My husband introduced me to Fleabag and I'm liking it, now that we've watched three or so episodes. 

6. I've started reading a separate book when I'm doing incline walking on the treadmill and it's definitely increased my pages. It has to be paperback and nothing too dense- like David Sedaris. 

7. I forgot that I should have been working on letters of rec for my students- I think I have like 50 or 60 to do. I'm slightly over halfway through my summer, so I should probably get on that.

8. I've been thinking a lot about travel lately, and who at this moment in time I'd actively pursue trips with (things that are more than two nights and over 200 miles away). Sawyer, because I have to, my friend Nani because we have SO much fun together, my friends Val and Yurii because they're so chill, my brother because he is up for anything, my friend Joanna because we never run out of things to talk about, and my mom because I can always be honest and she'd never be offended if I was like "I need an hour to myself, yo." (My husband doesn't travel, so he's not a part of this). I'm not planning a trip, but while I was walking today I thought a lot about how my travel style and habits have changed so much from when I was younger.

9. Today I took Sawyer to preschool for the first time in almost a week and drove to the beach to spend several hours alone there. I read a hundred pages, walked for forty-five minutes, and drank a milkshake. It was perfect. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

I have a hunch that my comments might not be working, unless maybe you have a blogger or google account? I had someone mention it and when I went in to test it the comment didn't get published unless I was logged it (despite having it set up differently). I checked all my settings today and everything was right, so I'm confused. TBD... If you are trying to comment and it's not going through send me a message on Twitter.

I am trying to get outside thirty minute a day, which is pretty easy most of the time. The days where it's not convenient is when I really have to make an effort, and probably when I need it the most. Even if it's just reading with a cup of coffee while Sawyer is at preschool or hanging out with him while he plays in the water- it all counts. 

July means it is time for business- all the things I have put off for the last year need to happen in the next month. Deep cleaning, bathroom refreshing, appointments, etc... It's gotta happen. 

I almost got a puppy a week or two ago. I still have extremely mixed feelings... I saw a three-month-old lab/German Shepherd mix up for adoption nearby. It was adorable, the right size, and the right age. But, there were a lot of cons- it was a $400 adoption fee, plus inevitble costs in the near future (exams, vaccinations, spaying, etc...), and the fact that having a puppy basically tethers you to your home for awhile. So, I decided it wasn't the right time for me and withdrew my lengthy application about two hours after I submitted it. 

Friend dates are a huge priority for me this summer and I'm trying to make plans with a friend or two each week. Being social makes me so much happier and I have more than enough time to see everyone I love. 

I've been trying to not buy new books, but I caved in and ordered Samin Nosrat's Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat after watching the series on Netflix and listening to her on The Armchair Expert. I actually think I might actually read it cover to cover- even after glancing at it for a few minutes I can tell it's an absolute wealth of information and the illustrations are so beautiful.

After having a few low-key days after our vacation, things are getting busy again. Tomorrow my husband and I are going to see Yesterday while Sawyer is at preschool (he goes 2-3 days a week while I am off... it's a happy medium for us both) and then in the evening we are going to go to a local AAA baseball game so we can see the post-game fireworks. We don't have plans on the Fourth (except maybe the splash pad? If it's open?) except to grill at home and probably eat our body weights in brownie ice cream sandwiches. Friday we Sawyer and I have plans to go to a friend's house, Saturday we are off to visit family, and Sunday we're off to the zoo. Phew! Monday and Tuesday are going to be recovery days, that's for sure (minus the dentist and doctor appointments Sawyer has... oh joy).

I just started Cormac McCarthy's No Country For Old Men and I forgot how much I love him. I've had a few male students read it over the years and they always push me to read it... finally, I'm taking their advice! 

Coastal California Trip Recap

Last week Sawyer and I took a vacation up the coast, driving from Southern California to Monterey. It was absolutely beautiful and we did a ton in the four days that we traveled. He was an absolute champ at riding in the car (they're doing a ton of roadwork on the 101 and 1, which meant a lot of time at a standstill). We stayed in Monterey and used that as a sort of home base, since most of the places (except Hearst Castle and Solvang) were within 50 miles.

Day 1: Hearst Castle, lots of stop on the 1 through Big Sur to admire the ocean 

Day 2: Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Cannery Row in Monterey

Day 3: Big Sur, 17 Mile Drive, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Denis the Menace Playground

Day 4: Solvang, drive home 

I highly, highly recommend this trip to pretty much anyone. There is so much to do, so many places to spot, and it's super affordable if you pack breakfasts and lunches. I am determined now to one day road trip from San Diego to Vancouver (or even to Whistler) in a rental car, and then fly home. I think I'd take close to two weeks to do it, so I could make plenty of stops.