I’m a little bit obsessed with stories. I guess you already know that, seeing as I write it every chance I get: every story matters.

And so it should really be of no surprise, how my love of stories connects with my deep love for a good book. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been a book-lover. Yeah, I was that girl who showed up to the dinner table with a book in her hand. Sometimes I read straight through the meal. Listen, I make no apologies.

You can always find the time to open up a new world.

Maybe you’re like me with your nose always in a book. Maybe you’re more like most of my good friends (oh, it kills me) and could go years without cracking open the spine of a book.

But here’s the thing, people. You need to read. You need to get those stories deep inside you, letting them wedge their way into who you are. You’ve got to open a book so you can soak in the words that you’ll find inside. Because stories? They change lives. But you’re going to have to open the book and begin.

I’ve read 32 books in 2015 and we’re only in July. And yes, I was in college and working part-time until May. If I could find the time in between working, classes, homework and starting a Virtual Assistant business, then trust me… you can too. No excuses, people. No excuses. You can always find the time to open up a new world. {<– Click here to tweet}

If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are 6 tips that work for me.

6 ways to read more books every month

1. Download books to your phone.

A small piece of me just died writing that sentence because absolutely nothing compares to the smell of a new book or the feeling of turning the paper-thin pages. I was completely anti-kindle until I tried it myself. I don’t have a Kindle or a Nook or anything like that. But I do have the free Kindle app and do you know what is so nifty about it? There are thousands upon thousands of books that you can get straight on your phone (often for free or at a discounted price).

And here’s the trick of it all: whenever you find yourself with fringe hours or “extra” unexpected time – like when you’re waiting at the doctor’s office or in the school pick-up line or in between classes – you’ve got a book with you. It isn’t practical to always carry a paperback with you throughout the day, but how often are you apart from your phone?

Of the 32 books I’ve read this year, 11 of them are from my Kindle app. Most of that reading happened in small, unexpected pockets of time. But if you know you’ll have a short break every week, you can set that time aside to read another few pages. Somehow, it’s like giving yourself a gift. Every Wednesday from January-May, I had a twenty-five minute break between class and grabbing lunch with a friend. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to read another chapter. Multiple books were started and finished on those Wednesday mornings.

2. Join a book club.

Online. In person. Whatev.

3. Highlight, underline, and star the heck out of those pages.

There’s a decent chance that if you read a book and absolutely love it, you’ll read it again down the road. But if you only somewhat like the book, are you truly ever going to read the entire thing again? Doubtful. So how do you retain the parts you loved, the ideas that grabbed you, the words that moved you?

It’s so simple. Highlight them! Or underline. Or put little stars or brackets around paragraphs. It will not only be easy to find what you loved when you look back at the book later, but it will encourage you to keep reading. The more I underline a book, the more I love it and want to turn the next page. And then when you finish, you’ll easily be able to look back and see what moved you.

4. Connect with authors online.

Guys, it’s really not that hard and it makes book-reading so much more fun. Tweet a quote from the book and tag the author. Comment on an Instagram post related to their book and let them know what you’ve enjoyed so far. Most of the time I receive a response and they immediately go from “that author out there somewhere” to “hey, they’re pretty cool and write good words.”

5. Sign up to receive free books.

I’m not sure there’s a logical explanation to it, but I kid you not – the books that I’ve received for free are often the ones that I can’t wait to pick up and read through. Maybe it’s because the book was free or it could be that you’re on a launch team for a new book and need to review it by a certain date (which will totally prompt you to read the book because #duh), but free books simply make reading more fun. If you love the book? Great! It was free! If you hate the book? Bummer. But at least you didn’t spend any money on it.

Here are some of my favorite places to find free books (some of these require a book review):

BookLook Bloggers // NetGalley // Tyndale Blog Network // Revell Reads

Tyndale Rewards is pretty great too – you can earn points for taking surveys or reviewing their books (even books you already own and have read!) and then “spend” those points on new books or Bibles.

6. Purchase an audio book and listen as you drive to work or run errands.

Well, that one is totally self-explanatory. But seriously, there are so many others ways I could share to encourage you to read more books. If those are too complicated for you, here’s a bonus suggestion:

Find a book. Open it.

No excuses. There are too many worlds waiting for you.

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