I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

The Busy Mom's Guide to Reading More This Year

The Busy Mom's Guide to Reading More This Year-tips, tricks, and links

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I'm a work-at-home, homeschooling mom. I'm currently buried somewhere under a book deadline for my first book, Homeschool Bravely, and I have what feels like 0 seconds of "extra" time. And yet, I somehow managed to carve out enough time to read 30 books this past year, as in books just for me. That number doesn't include the dozens upon dozen upon dozens of books that I read aloud to my kids for fun, for history, for science, for Bible...(You get the idea.)

I'm often asked how I squeeze reading into a jam-packed day. After all, busy is riding shotgun with me all day long.

Well, my short answer is simple: Busy is a myth. A person will always make time for the most important things. If reading is the important thing, reading will get done.

The even shorter answer is: I don't have television access, so books are my PrimeTime.

The long answer is a bit more complicated.

Here are my top 5 best tips for reading more books this year.*

The Busy Mom's Guide to Reading More This Year-tips, tricks, and links

Make Reading a Line Item

Reading is a non-negotiable to me. It's self-care that ends up benefiting everyone in my house. When I read, I'm not only able to teach from a place of abundance because I'm well-read on a vast number of topics, but I also stay sane. I'm fairly certain that I'd end up acting like a caged squirrel if I didn't have at least ten minutes to read each and every day. 

Because reading is a must, it is a permanent line item on my schedule. Everyday after our Morning Time, we all grab our own just-for-fun book, scatter around the living room, and read silently to ourselves for at least 15 minutes. Everyone. Including me. I set a timer and everything. In the same way that I make sure math, language arts, history, and science all have a permanent place in the day, I relentlessly carve out time each morning for everyone to read. Because reading matters.

I also try to read at least 10 minutes before going to bed at night as a way of gently peeling off the pressures of the day.

Read in the Fringe Moments

In this screen-driven age, a reading life has to be built on purpose. Each day, no matter how busy, contains fringe moments--little bits of time that leave me sitting, waiting, loitering. It's easy to squander that time sending texts, checking Facebook, scrolling Instagram. But I don't have to be a digital prisoner. The choice for how I use my fringe moments is mine. A cell phone is an easy GO TO distraction because it is handy. It's always with me.

In the moments when I could reach for my phone, I reach for a book instead. That means that I always have a book on me. While not always fashion-forward, I make sure that I carry a purse large enough to fit at least one book inside (or three). When I'm standing in line at the DMV or waiting in the pick-up line at basketball practice, I can read a few pages. Five-minutes-here, five-minutes-there doesn't seem like a lot, but in spending even five minutes reading every single day, I claim 30 hours each year turning pages in the fringe moments. And that's more than enough time to read a few books.

Fringe moments don't always come with a warning. They are random and unpredictable. I have to be prepared for them by always having a book at-the-ready.

The Busy Mom's Guide to Reading More This Year-tips, tricks, and links

Have a Book in the Batter's Box

I never let precious book time get lost in the in-between. I keep a running list of books that I'd like to read--any recommendations I get from friends, online, or trusted word-nerd resources. I use GoodReads to track books I have read and books I want to read. But a list doesn't have to be so fancy. The key is to have wishful titles down in black-and-white somewhere, somehow. In this way, I always know where I'm going before I even get there.

Then, when I am a few chapters away from completing one book, I order my next one. I buy it on my favorite used book site, put it on hold at the library, borrow it from a friend. I do whatever it takes to get a book into my hot little hand and set it aside until I need it. That way, not a moment of reading is ever wasted. I'm able to transition from one title to the next seamlessly.

Read Books in Tandem

I used to read one book at a time. That's all my tot-mom brain could muster. But over the years, I've found that the one-book method is really not a very efficient use of my reading time. And here's why? Non-fiction books work my brain differently than fiction books do. Non-fictions, with their facts and no-nonsense approach, are easy to pick up, put down, and pick back up again in the fringe moments. But if we're all being honest, non-fictions are rarely page-turners. They're not known for their riveting plot points or compelling dialogue. They're perfect for the five-minutes-here, five-minutes-there kind of daytime reading. Fiction books, on the other hand, keep me reading. They're the potato chips of my reading life. I can't just read one chapter. They are perfect for just-before-bed reading or those times when life grants me a longer-than-normal pause in the day.

So now, I always have at least two books going at once. I read a non-fiction in the morning during our silent reading time and in the fringe moments. (It's usually the book that always finds a spot in my purse.) And I read a fiction book just before bed at night. This can sometimes be a bit problematic as I've been known to get swept up in the story and read well past too-late-o'clock.

The Busy Mom's Guide to Reading More This Year-tips, tricks, and links

Ignore the Tyranny of the Trendy

Call it a quiet rebellion against the trendy if you must, but when it comes to the current popularity of reading challenges, I just can't deal. I know. I know. All the cool girls are doing them, even my two most favorite book peddlers (the one for adults and the one for kids).

But here's the thing: while I can give a polite golf clap to all those who read "a sci-fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author" in order to check it off a pretty list they printed from the interwebs, I won't read one myself. I don't want to. I like what I like. In trying to read through the books on someone else's list, I end up slogging through. I don't enjoy myself. I read slowly and begrudgingly.

So, I've found that the best way to "challenge" myself to read is to do so with my own interests in mind. I gather recommendations from other readers I know or from trusted online sources, I read consecutive books by authors that I've grown to love, I read about topics that I'm currently interested in. The "history" of my library card reads much like an autobiography, showing the seasons of my life and what passions have come and gone. That's not to say that I never read out of my comfort zone. I do. But the difference between a reading challenge and being challenged by reading is that books never have to feel like a TO DO in the agenda.

*For mommas of wee ones: Please know that I didn't always have a rich reading life. During those crowded years when it was raining babies in my house, I had to back-burner my desire to read. If you are smack dab in the middle of the tornado tot season, be encouraged. Enjoy your babes while you can, knowing that books will always be there whenever you have time for them.

More Tips for Reading More

How I use a Common Place Journal in my reading time
My Favorite Books for Personal {Momma} Reading
Top Books that Helped Shape Me in 2014
Goodness, Beauty, Truth: A Fiction Book List for Adults


  1. Great tips, Jamie! This is pretty much how I do it too, with the addition of audiobooks while driving, exercising, folding laundry, etc.

    1. I wish I liked audio books. I love to listen to them with the whole family on road trips. But, I don't love them for me. I prefer podcasts. Not sure why? You'd think a person who likes podcasts would also like audio books, but I just don't.

  2. I can only listen to an audio book when I am doing something else. When I was working outside of the home, I would listen to them in the car on my way to work. One suggestion I also have is an online book club. I am a part of one and it keeps me reading.. that and my kindle with a light on it so I can read myself to sleep without disturbing my husband. Thank you for your suggestins

    1. I have a friend who's currently in an online book club. She really likes it. The light is one of the perks of a digital reader. I wish I liked eBooks more. When I read them, I miss the smell and feel of a real book. I'm currently reading Pam Barnhill's new book and it's digital. But I'm also reading three print books. I'm finding that I kind of avoid Pam's book, not because it's uninteresting (because it's actually quite good), but because it's digital.