Readers' Favorite

May 27, 2020

How I Got My Reading Groove Back

by Donna Huber

When the pandemic took hold in March, my reading went out the window. I know that happened to a lot of people. Too much uncertainty and information coming a mile a minute left me without the concentration for reading a book. But slowly I've gotten my reading groove back. If you are still struggling, perhaps these tips will help.

Set a schedule

Even though I knew it was coming and I already work from home part of the day, working fulltime from home instead of the office had my schedule all screwed up. At the end of the first week, my arms, shoulders and eyes hurt so much I knew I was spending way too much time on the computer with too few of breaks. I realized that I would sit down at 7:00 to eat breakfast and skim the news on my computer and then go straight to my work computer at 8:00 am and working until 11:00 without a break. So my first change was to make sure I was taking a break mid-morning (I used that time to get dressed so I would move around a bit). Then after lunch, I started taking a 3-mile walk which allowed my eye muscles to relax as I looked into the distance.

I also made myself turn off the television after watching about an hour of news. I would then turn on my audiobook. In normal times, I usually have the television on when I work from home in the afternoons, but after watching the noon news, I'm turning off the television and listening to my audiobook again while I worked.

Evenings were a little more difficult to get a schedule going. I would find myself mindlessly skipping between websites for news and statistics and watching television. It took longer to get back in the habit, but eventually, I was able to start reading each night at 8:00 pm for an hour or so. It probably also helps that most of the television shows I watch are over now.

Listen to audiobooks

Listening to audiobooks has long been my way of reading more. I usually listen to one while I'm at work and if I'm really into the story I would listen to it on the weekends when I was working around the house. In March, because I was still trying to figure out a work/life balance when I never left the house I wasn't listening to audiobooks as much. Some days I wouldn't listen at all because I had the news playing in the background. One of my first steps to getting my reading groove back was to listen to audiobooks more. I'm back to listening while I work my day job, but I also would turn it on when I wanted to check the news and statistics sites. I'm listening to an audiobook now while I blog. I did the 30 free days Scribd offered in March. I did it at first because my library was closed and the digital library didn't have my book club book (we are meeting via Zoom), but I then listened to a few other books I've wanted to read but haven't had the time. I'm seriously thinking of subscribing to their services. It is reasonably priced (particularly compared to Audible) and is better (both in terms of the platform and selection) than my digital library.

Read something familiar

I think this step helped the most with getting my reading groove back. After struggling through a few audiobooks that I barely knew what happened in the story and wanting to re-read some of my favorite books, I decided to listen to them as audiobooks. Two series, All Souls trilogy and Harry Potter, that I've wanted to re-read are available through my digital library. The author of another series, The Gateway Chronicles. is reading a chapter a day on Facebook of the first book in her series. Maybe she will continue through the entire series. (Check out my post about 5 fantasy series to binge read).

Since I have to wait for my holds to come in between books for the two fantasy series, I've also started catching up on Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen series. The digital library only has the first 18 books in the series, so while I can't fully catch up it still gives me plenty to listen to. While the books are new to me, the plots are pretty cookie-cutter so there is a familiarity to the stories that makes them easy to listen to.

Do you have your reading groove back?

In March, I only read/listened to 6 books and in April, it was 8 books. Already this month, I have read/listened to 10 books. 10 books is my typical monthly reading amount. But I think I will read at least 12 books this month (I should finish my current audiobook and one ebook before the end of May). I'm also getting caught up on my reading goal. In March and April, I was 6 or 7 books behind and now I'm only 4 or 5 behind. And I have to tell you it feels great to be really reading again.

Have you been able to get back to reading? While I'm back to my normal reading level, it is okay if you have found a new normal reading habit. For me, not reading was just another change in my life due to the pandemic and I could tell it was adding to the imbalance I was struggling with. Even in April, I was feeling more settled because I was reading more.

I hope reading has been able to provide you with a sense of normalcy and stress relief. If you are still struggling with getting back to reading and feel off-kilter because of it I hope my strategies help you. And if you have also found your reading groove again and have different tips on getting there, I would love to hear them. Please leave any tips in the comments as they may help someone else.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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  1. I've been having a really hard time reading lately. I think I need to set a schedule, but at the same time I know I'm also not great about following schedules. Sigh. Hopefully I can find a way out of this slump.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. I don't always stick it the schedule but it has been helpful knowing what I should be doing. It has curbed the endless hours of mindless social media scrolling that did quite a bit of in March. Now I want to be reading instead of feeling like I have to read.