By Michael Osakwe, NextAdvisor.com
As technology advances, it's making it easier and easier to keep up with some of our favorite hobbies, such as reading. Even though books have become more accessible -- after all, you don't have to carry a paperback book around anymore -- Americans are not making time for reading. In fact, the results of a 2014 Pew Research Center study reported that almost 25 percent of Americans had not read a single book within the last year, a number that has slowly risen over the last three decades when compared to earlier polls conducted by Gallup. While Pew's report offers no insight into this trend (it was actually designed to track the rise in the popularity of e-books), some basic intuitions about how American life has changed in the last few decades might provide a starting point. The prevalence of digital devices, as well as a change in our obligations and commitments has reduced the amount of time and attention we have for reading. The good news is that there are a lot of small changes you can make in your life to ensure you read more books.
1. Commit to a reading list
Like all things, reading a book is something that takes consistency. The process can be made easier by already having a set of books in mind and reading them consecutively. Plan out your reading list out for the next three or so months, that way you can simply keep up your reading momentum once you finish a book. Share your list with a friend or family member to have someone hold you accountable to finishing each book. That said, make sure you don't over-commit. The Pew report suggests that on average Americans read 12 books a year, or one a month; however, don't feel obligated to read at that pace. What matters most is your commitment to finishing your reading list, so start with whatever feels comfortable to you.
2. Read as a group
Now that summer is here, your kids (if you have any) likely have an assigned reading list. A great way to spend time with them and provide them academic support is to read as a family. While it might seem silly, there are benefits to reading aloud or alongside not only early readers, but elementary school students of any age. However, if your student is already accustomed to reading independently or you simply can't schedule in-person reading time, you can both read a book and hold a "book club" meeting to discuss it later.
Like most activities, reading can be made easier and more exciting when done with a group or a partner. If you don't have a young student in your life, you can look for book clubs and other literary groups in your area via local community postings, asking your local library or online through Facebook or any site, such as Meetup.com or Craigslist, which lists in-person community groups near you. Alternatively, if a more intimate experience is something you'd prefer, you can create your own group among a few close friends or family. The benefits are the same, as the goal is to read concurrently with others and to hold one another accountable. Even if you're not reading the same books or in the same physical location, there are still benefits to having reading partners and discussing your reading with them.
3. Have a designated "reading time"
Finding the time to read gets easier if it's scheduled, instead of simply allocating reading to whatever downtime you find available. Even if it's just five or 10 minutes before bed, schedule reading time into your day and stick to it. Combining this with reading partners or a group that can hold you accountable will make reading an integral part of your life.
4. Sneak it into your schedule or use audiobooks
Sometimes simply finding the time to read is the most difficult part of being an avid reader. The obvious advice, like cutting back on Internet usage or TV assumes that you prioritize these non-essential activities over reading. If there's no way you can squeeze the time out of your schedule, but want to finish your reading list, you'll have to find a way to multitask. Certain activities, like commuting on public transit or eating, provide a gap in your schedule that allow you to sneak in quick quality time with a good book, however that depends on how tight your schedule already is and how many of these types of activities you have in your schedule.
If you can't make time to physically read a book, audiobooks are a solid way to incorporate reading into your schedule. With audiobooks, an entire library will follow you in a digital format and can be read to you from any audio device such as a smartphone, MP3 player, tablet or laptop. This means you can listen to your favorite book while you drive, shop for groceries or even work out at the gym. Subscriptions to one of these services can cost as little as $10/month. Take a look at our reviews to get an idea of what audiobook service might work for you.
5. Let passion and curiosity guide you
If you can make the time for it, ultimately, it will be your interest that sustains your commitment to read more books. Make sure to not just pick up random best sellers or suggested good reads, but that you introspectively search for the topics that either pique your curiosity or that you have a passion for. Finally, if your group or reading partners share your interests and passions, you'll be all the more committed to your reading goals.
Want to learn more ways to incorporate reading into your daily life? Visit our audiobooks blog to get tips, as well as see where you can find some of the top titles.
This blog post originally appeared on NextAdvisor.com.