Slow Reader to Book Lover

Tips for self-proclaimed slow or non-readers for how to enjoy reading.

I've been a slow, non-reader all my life. Things have changed. I've even paused in the middle of writing this post to read a new book I checked out of the library. Who am I?!

Everything changed four years ago when I read a full novel in 5 days, which was unheard of for this slow, non-reader. We were spending the week between Christmas and New Year's at my parents' lodge in the mountains of California. It was as cozy and Christmas-like as it sounds. While the guys were out paint-balling and the girly crafted with grandma and the babe napped, I grabbed the nearest novel to spend a moment enthralled in a story. We left our laptop at home and didn't get cell reception there, and somehow I managed that picture-perfect image of an avid reader lost in a good story that previously always felt a world away to me.

That next year, in addition to choosing monthly resolutions, I decided I wanted to read a book each month. If I was able to finish a book in a week, surely I could manage a book each month. And I did. Sometimes more.

Reading used to make me gag. Now, several times I've heard people use the phrase reader, like you in reference to me. As in, "I used to be a reader, like you" or "I'm not a reader, like you." And I just have to chuckle that a few years ago, and for the first 25 years of my life, that couldn't have been further from the truth.

Now, I'm a reader. That still feels a little strange to admit, but it's also all kinds of wonderful. I've learned so much, grown so much, and had so many mini-vacations in these stories. I keep a couple ebooks on my phone to read when I'm waiting in the car or at the kids swimming lessons or at the doctor. I usually have something, and often multiple somethings, checked out of the library. And I keep up with my favorite authors on social media that introduces me to what they're reading and to their author friends that are coming out with new books.

This is all kind of a no-brainer since I'm a writer. And seriously, what does an introvert do with her time, if not sit around and read?! It only took me 25 years from learning how to read to finally get to this point. Here are some things I've learned in going from a slow, non-reader to a book lover.

How to Enjoy Reading More

You don't have to be an avid reader to benefit and even enjoy reading. Use these ideas to help make that happen.

Learning to like reading and ideas to stop using being a "slow reader" as an excuse to not read.

1. Find books you like.

This was a game-changer in my reading habits. Even though I still consider myself a slow reader, I found I could actually finish books and finish them in a timely manner when I liked them and wanted to read them. Not sure what you'll like? Ask around to people with similar interests as you. Look for books about a hobby that interests you. Browse a bookstore in a category you like. Look up books on Amazon then scroll down to "customers who bought this item also bought" section to see more similar suggestions. Take note when someone posts about or mentions a book. (You can see mine on my Recommended Books board on Pinterest.)

2. Don't feel obligated to finish what you start.

And, when you start a book that you're not really into (because it will happen), remove all obligation to finish it. Return it to the library, pass it on, or set aside for another time. My reading lull really got started when several times in a row I started a book, then read pieces off and on for months or even a year. Reading became a chore. Don't waste time making yourself finish books you've decided no longer interest you. There's so many great books out there, spend your valuable time on those.

3. Let go of the notion of re-reading.

When you finish a book, don't worry about reading it again, no matter how good it is. Some might disagree with me on this, but if you have a hard time wanting to read in the first place, don't waste that reading time on something you've already read. If it's a book you own, pass it on. You can likely find it at a good price or from a friend or the library in the future if you really want to revisit it. In the meantime, keep exploring the wonderful world of endless selections of books that are new to you.

4. Try a new genre.

I tend to get stuck in the faith/self-help type books. They're great for my Intellection-Developer-Learner personality strengths. But sometimes, they also start to sound the same and my mind needs a break. Sometimes a memoir or novel is just the mix-up I need to take a break and enjoy reading again.

5. Ease in with something light, easy, or short.

Actually reading a magazine article used to be too much for me. If you find yourself in the same boat, start there. Browse a magazine on a topic you like and stop to read one of the full-length articles. In my college magazine writing class I learned that writing a book is essentially writing one magazine article, in other words one chapter, at a time. The same is true of reading most books, it's simple the equivalent of reading one magazine article, or chapter, at a time. And if the book has subheadings, feel free to stop and place your bookmark in the middle of a chapter if you need a break.

6. Make space for reading.

As I went into a year of resolving to read at least one book each month (a big deal for my non-reader self), I needed to make the time to make that happen. So, I started with scheduling it in. At the time, I stayed home with two non-school age kids, so we had reading time everyday after lunch. I would pull out whatever book I was reading and lay on the couch, and without direction they too would grab their picture books and sit and browse. This often lasted at least a good 15-20 minutes. Then, when they would nap, I sometimes would keep the reading go. Reading can be fit in to daily wait times (i.e., school pick-up), lunch break, or 20 minutes before bedtime. I also spend the 24 hours of Sabbath to set aside technology and spend some of the quiet in reading.

7. Share the love.

Talk about the books or stories that impact you. Suggest them to friends that might like them. Give a social media or email shout-out to the author, or write a review of the book on Amazon. When you read a powerful quote, write it down. And when you're leaving honest feedback, remember that just because a book isn't for you doesn't mean it's not for anyone. Give feedback that might help a reader make that decision for themselves. Also, authors read reviews of their books so please don't be a jerk.

Reading used to be an avoided chore and is now a welcome mini-vacation. If you don't like reading, I can't promise you that will change (and thanks for reading this, by the way). But I think you'll be pleasantly surprised if you find books you like, stop reading things you don't like, and make a little space for reading.

books I read + wrote about:
every little thing
simply tuesday
the bible
simplicity parenting
irrestible revolution


also see:
new? start here...
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Rock Your Home + Life

While I care about simplicity and need peace and quiet, for this season, our top priority is growing kids, so sometimes the other stuff gets shoved into the cracks and crevices with the stray cheerios, or left off the to do list with chores like scrub the shower. Ain't nobody got time for that!  Seriously, though, there is hope for messy homes...

You can't grow grass and kids at the same time. A friend recently shared those wise words from her neighbor on Facebook.

Makes sense to me. Except I'd go ahead and throw other things into that statement, too. Like organization, cleaning, peace and quiet. It'd go something like, "you can't keep a clean, organized home and grow kids at the same time." Okay, maybe can't is too strong a word. But kids certainly complicate it and add to the challenge.

While I care about simplicity and need peace and quiet, for this season, our top priority is growing kids, so sometimes the other stuff gets shoved into the cracks and crevices with the stray cheerios, or left off the to do list with chores like scrub the shower. Ain't nobody got time for that!

Seriously, though, there is hope for messy homes--whether you're growing kids or growing yourself and maybe a spouse. In our culture today, all of us, moms or not, are busy and distracted and even overwhelmed. Even with limited time and energy, we have hope, because we are not alone. Others are paving a way and finding shortcuts so we don't have to. And any bit of effort creates a foundation to grow from.

Stress-free simplifying is likely unrealistic. (Unless, of course, you hire everything out. In which case, don't tell me about it. I'm better off not hearing all of the glorious details of not having to declutter and make donation drop-offs in between cooking, cleaning, and childcare.)

But stress-less simplifying--with the right tools, encouragement, and support--is possible.

And that's exactly what I aim to offer in my ebook Simplifying Home, on the Simplifying Home blog, and in my current 8-part email series (with videos and access to a Facebook group) to help you go through your home by the end of 2016.

I hope I can help you finally find the simple home you've always dreamed of.


also see:
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simplifying in the chaos
monthly emails + freebies

How to Brave New Beginnings

A new beginning, or trying out the unknown, is an opportunity to test and see that today's David's still defeat their Goliaths, that today's Joseph's have dreams that come true, and that God is alive and fully involved in my life today.

Trying something new and different hasn't always been out of the realm of possibility for me. That was clear when I was 15 and my first plane trip was around the world to spend 9 months with a friend and her family in Mongolia. There I also somehow ended up teaching English classes to students twice my age. What? Who suggests things like that to their parents and what parents are crazy brave enough to make it happen?

Doing something new and different didn't end there. I returned to the states at 16, got a full time job and my GED before deciding to go away to college. I have a small history of quitting jobs on faith that the next thing would fill my need better--and it always has.

I've been quite the shy, reserved person my whole life. Yet, somehow, with the right encouragement and support and resources I've had opportunities to round out that reserved nature with rockclimbing, public speaking, surfing in Hawaii, travelling around the world. And, of course, there's been the life adventures like having a baby in college or being jobless and homeless for a couple months.

I'm not an outgoing adrenaline junkie, but I do love a good adventure and a good story. And new beginnings are both for me. A new beginning and trying out the unknown is a little act of faith. It's an opportunity to test and see that today's Davids still defeat their Goliaths, that today's Josephs have dreams that come true, and that God is alive and fully involved in my life today.

We're getting ready for some more new beginnings. I've mentioned it on social media and in my emails, it's about time I mention it here in a blog post. My husband will be quitting his job in a couple months and returning to school. We have dreams, goals, and plans, but it all starts right here with the next steps and these new beginnings. We really can't be sure where it all leads and for sure how all the pieces will come together. I am sure of the God-given encouragement, support, and resources that have been providing this adventure and are helping write this story.

With those current beginnings fresh on our minds, and those past beginnings reassuring me forward, here are some ways I've learned to not feel so overwhelmed as a lifelong beginner.

Ways to not feel so overwhelmed as a beginner...

This blog was started on the idea that I wanted to try new things. It evolved as I realized I'll likely forever be a beginner in something and that can lead to joyful adventures and life-growing stories. Here's a few ways I've learned over the years to not get overwhelmed by that awkward beginning process and instead enjoy it.

Bravely take that next right step.

In short, stop talking about the thing and do it. Take the leap, even if it's small. If you keep thinking about something, dreaming of it even, it's worth moving forward in it. Whether it's a small hobby or a major life change, you'll never know if you never try. And planning it out is completely different than actually following through on it.

See failure differently.

What we might call failure actually helps us focus and redirect and fine tune our goals. Sometimes our beginnings don't go as planned and our successes aren't as epic as we hoped. These hold-ups are less about throwing in the towel, and more about refining our goals and our direction. Failure means we started and tried, and that alone should make us proud.

Join the overcomers club.

Struggle is a part of life. Be the type to persevere through challenges. That doesn't always come naturally and it rarely comes easy. It is, however, so worth the effort. Just ask a farmer that labors over his fields to produce crops. Or a momma that labors over birthing her child. Or an artist that labors over a masterpiece. The outcome often outweighs the challenges.

Celebrate successes--even especially the little ones.

Life isn't just one end goal. Okay, for Christians, it kind of is. But while we're here on this earth, everyday is a little checkpoint on our way to eternity. In that journey, success is about others, it happens one step at a time, it is contentment in this phase, and sometimes it's just showing up. Acknowledge those milestones and celebrate them. They could be the very victories that give us hope and courage to keep on keepin' on.

Take a break--not "cheat days," but real rest.

Talk about something else and do something else. Rest refreshes our perspective and energies, and it renews our creativity and ideas. Taking a break isn't like a cheat day where we take a step backward and practically undo all the hard work we've done. Real rest is a God-given opportunity to turn off the hustle for a mid-day break, for each night, for Sabbath each week. It's the rhythm He created us with that almost seems counter-intuitive to productivity, but can actually be the very foundation to success.

Read up--for info, encouragement, and validation.

I was seriously never much of a reader, until after college when I started learning the key to actually like reading was to read books I actually like. Makes sense, right? I'm glad I figured that out, because much of the beginnings and successes I'm most proud of have been largely thanks to reading. Reading blogs and books and testimonials and stories and especially the Bible has helped me learn practical information, and it's helped me feel supported, encouraged, and validated in my journey.

What are you beginning? If the answer is nothing, then maybe it's time to start something. Some small or large way to face your Goliath or to see if your dream really is a vision for your future.


I share more about all of this in Epic Beginner: The 35-Day Ebook + Journal. It's not currently for sale, but will be soon! In the meantime checkout my ebook Simplifying Home. Why? How do those relate? Well, I believe that getting our lives together starts at home. A healthier lifestyle, better work, souls at peace--it's hard to make any of those things happen when our homes are chaotic, cluttered, or disorganized. I want to help you toward new beginnings that matter and I want to help you start in your home.