Tips to Help Busy Moms Read More {+ Book Recommendations from the BMB Team!}

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Today is National Book Lovers Day. Did you know? It may not be a widely recognized day, but it has turned my attention to books and reading, and I’m reminded that I’m not on track with my goals for this year. (I start out most years strong, but I never keep up…) I love the idea of reading, and I love talking to other people about what they’re reading. The problem is, I’m a busy mom who struggles to make time for it. Can you relate?

I always laugh when my dad, who is a life-long avid reader, reminds me that he can’t remember anything he read in the 80’s because that’s when he had young children. (Thanks for making me feel better, Dad!) While I realize and embrace that I have other priorities during this season of my life, I also know that I could carve out some more time for reading, if it’s important to me.

Tips to help busy moms read more - use the Kindle app
One tip to help busy moms read more: use the Kindle app and read in electronic format for accessibility.

I’m inspired by friends of mine who are moms and who continue to read at an astounding rate (some read 40-50+ books a year, which is hard for me to fathom!). They don’t just read fluff either. I love the variety of their reading selections and the ways they grow their minds through the books they read. I’ve asked a couple of these inspiring friends, Shannon (my college friend & now sister-in-law, homeschooling mom, entrepreneur) and Kelsey (MOPS friend who recently completed her graduate degree with a baby and toddler at home), to share tips to help busy moms find more time for reading. Here are some of their suggestions!

  1. Choose books you actually want to read. This probably seems obvious, but sometimes we pick up a book without purpose or because someone else told us to read it. If you don’t have interest in a book, it will feel like a chore to read it. In this season, when my time to read is very limited, I am extremely particular about what I read.
  2. Replace t.v. time with reading time. Whether you’re watching Netflix or scrolling social media on your smartphone during your downtime at night, there are probably a number of activities you can set aside in order to pick up a book. I’m always frustrated with myself when I realize I’ve wasted a chunk of time doing something meaningless when I could have spent a few minutes reading.
  3. Use the Kindle app. This is a must, according to Shannon. It’s free, and there are lots of free and inexpensive books available in the app. This is an easy way to make reading accessible at any time, too — while nursing, waiting, or during any down moment when you have your device handy.
  4. Listen to audio books while doing chores. Multi-task while washing dishes or doing laundry. These are valuable chunks of time that can multiply your productivity! This also takes some of the dreadfulness out of the not-so-fun aspects of maintaining a home (for people like me who do not love to clean!)
  5. Read with your kids. Shannon suggests incorporating reading time into your day with kids starting in the toddler years. She says, “Let them sit with you on the couch with a stack of their picture books to look through while you read your book. Start short — think less than five minutes.” This is a great way to instill the habit of reading in your young kids, and surely they will be inspired by seeing their mom enjoy books!
  6. Alternate between fiction and non-fiction. Or read both at the same time! I personally prefer non-fiction because I like reading about real life. Even if I don’t love the book when I’m finished, I’ve learned something. When I dislike fiction, I tend to feel frustrated about the waste of time and mental energy I spent reading it. However, non-fiction generally reads more slowly, so it’s nice to have a work of fiction on hand for the times when I just want a mental escape or something I can read through more quickly.
  7. Don’t be afraid to put a book down. Kelsey says, “Don’t feel obligated to finish if you realize the narrative is boring, you disagree with the non-fiction, or even if you discover a new book that has jumped your priority list to the top! Even if you’re halfway into the book, it’s okay to put it down. Your reading time is precious, so spend it intentionally.” This is a struggle for me. I don’t like seeing books on my shelf that I abandoned. However, I won’t be motivated to read anything else if I’m bogged down with something I don’t enjoy. Some of those half-read books I’ll come back to at a later time; others I’ve accepted are not for me and I’ve moved on.
  8. Always have your next book in mind. It’s a real let-down when you finish a great book and you don’t know where to go next. Kelsey suggests picking out your next book by the time you’re half-way through your current one. This will keep you from entering into the “reader’s slump” that can happen between books.

Which leads me to…

Book Recommendations from the BMB Team

I always love to hear what my friends are reading, so I wanted to include some book recommendations for you from our team. These books run the gamut — fiction, non-fiction, parenting, personal struggle, social justice, history, etc. Check these out and see if anything inspires you!

Fiction

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – This historical fiction novel is set in France during WWII. It exposes some of the harsh realities of war but also the courage of many (particularly the two sisters who serve as the main characters) during such dire times and the risks they took to ensure victory against the evil Nazi regime. It’s a page-turner! (Betsy G.)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – It is soooo important these days … it shows the importance of women raising their voice, their resilience and strength. (Dori P.)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – They told Charlotte that it wasn’t possible to write a novel with a plain heroin and have it be profitable. They told her no one would read it if the main character wasn’t gorgeous. Accepting their challenge, she wrote an international best seller and a timeless classic about a plain young girl who is the hero of her own story. (Cassidy C.)

Henry V by William Shakespeare – Based on a true story and filled with action and adventure, this tale of King Henry V fighting the French during the Hundred Years War will have you raising your own weapons to join excitedly into the fray, including the famous St. Crispen’s Day speech which is widely considered one of Shakespeare’s best. (Cassidy C.)

Non-fiction

Hands-Free Mama by Rachael Macy Stafford – Such a good reminder to really be intentional about spending quality time with your kiddos! (Staci L.)

A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty by Joni Eareckson Tada – This was one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. Joni has so much wisdom and shares her insight on her own pain and suffering and how God has used it in her life to bring glory to His name. It is an absolute must read! (Stephanie W.)

The Rules Do Not Apply: A Memoir by Ariel Levy – She’s been all over NPR, and Davis Sedaris recommended this book at his recent book signing at the Alabama Booksmith. I bought it before we even left that store and think it’s great. Trigger warning: it deals with miscarriage. (Dori P.)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou – This is an honest, real-life autobiography that should be required reading. You can’t walk away without the utmost respect for Ms. Angelou and others who have overcome obstacles and left countless people inspired. (Jenny Y.)

Love Does by Bob Goff – One of the most inspiring and interesting non-fiction books I’ve read. A call to action to live big in how you love and serve others, and how you live your everyday life. (Whitney H.)

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson – I experienced so many emotions while reading this — shock, fury, compassion, gratitude — as my eyes were opened to the many injustices in our society and our justice system, in particular. It was amazing to read about the work this author is doing on behalf of the most helpless. When I picked up the book, I didn’t even know that much of the work he does takes place in Alabama. It’s so well-written and very readable. Many parts are painful to read, but it’s an important book that will change you. (Betsy G.)

Please share your tips for reading and your book recommendations below!

 

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Betsy is a proud graduate of the University of Alabama--Roll Tide! After graduating from college, she spent 2+ years working with a Christian organization in Brazil. One of many lasting changes in Betsy’s life from this experience is the daily struggle to arrive anywhere on time! Betsy went on to pursue an MBA at Baylor University and worked for a few years afterward as a financial analyst. During this season, she met her husband, Jason, who is originally from China. They got married in 2011 and have since been blessed with four daughters, Karis {October 2013}, Constance {June 2015}, Merit {October 2017}, and Arden {August 2019}. Betsy enjoys staying home with her daughters. When not consumed with the demands of motherhood, Betsy likes cooking, reading, spending time with friends, and dreaming about traveling the world.

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