Like flossing every day and doing our taxes before April 15, reading more books is something we know we should do...in theory. In practice, we often feel too busy—or too drawn to Netflix—to crack open a book.
But the science doesn’t lie, folks: A study published in Social Science & Medicine found that book readers live an average of about two years longer than those who don’t read at all. And people who read up to three and a half hours per week? They’re 17 percent less likely to die in the next 12 years.
In the spirit of living longer, here are five tangible ways to read more books this year.
1. Set Goals (but Don’t Tell Everyone About Them)
We’re big proponents of setting goals to get sh*t done. Goals work. One of our go-tos for reading more is to set a pages-per-day goal. Instead of saying you’re going to read 50 books this year, tell yourself you’re going to read 20 pages every single day. Setting smaller, more tangible to-dos makes the ultimate goal much more manageable. Here’s the catch: Don’t tell people about your goals. While accountability is awesome (more on that later), studies have shown that announcing your solo goals makes you less likely to achieve them. Boast about your reading prowess afterward, sure, just don’t shout your intentions from the rooftops.
2. Put Reading Time on Your Calendar
Whether it’s 30 minutes during breakfast, 45 minutes while your kid is napping or an hour before you fall asleep, put designated reading time on your calendar (paper or digital). You keep all of your other appointments, so why make reading any different?
3. Start (or Join) a Book Club
On top of being an excuse to see your pals every month, book clubs are terrific for accountability, since no one wants to be that person who obviously hasn’t read the club’s selection. If you commit to discussing one book per month, chances are you'll actually read it.
4. Always Carry a Book with You
While reading in a cozy spot in your living room is delightful, you shouldn’t need to be home to pick up a book. Read everywhere, anytime you have a few free moments. That could mean whipping out a novel while waiting for a friend to show up to a restaurant or getting in a few pages before a movie begins. Yes, e-readers and audiobooks totally count.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Quit (a Book, That Is)
If you’re 30 pages into something and it’s really bumming you out, don’t hesitate to give up on it. Soldiering on begrudgingly is a waste of time and takes the fun out of what should be an enjoyable activity. Ditching titles that you don’t like makes room for ones you’ll fly through.