4 Ways to Read More During the School Year (+book recommendations!)

I know many of you who follow my blog are avid readers, with stacks and piles of books waiting to be read. I am, too. I love books and reading is one of my favorite leisure activities.

But once school starts, our time slowly slips away from us and we find ourselves reading less and less. What can we do to ensure that even during the school year, when life gets busy, we are still enjoying great books on a regular basis?

I have four tips for you:

1. Take a book with you to school every day.

This may not apply to those of you who are homeschooled, but it’s the single tip that has made the most difference for me. I carry the book that I’m currently reading in my backpack every single day – it’s a daily essential just as much as my planner is.

Because there’s so much downtime in public school classes, and because I’m a pretty fast test-taker, I get a lot of reading done in little bits and pieces throughout the day. Between classes, after a quiz or test, on the bus, during study hall if you don’t have anything else to do…all of that is valuable time perfect for pulling out a book.

2. Set aside particular times in your weekly routine to read.

During the school year, spontaneously picking up a book in your “free time” usually isn’t going to happen (mostly because that free time doesn’t really exist). But if you structure longer chunks of reading time into your week, you’ll make steady progress. For me, this is usually weekends, especially Sundays. But whether it’s every evening before bed or for three hours on Saturday afternoon, plan some regular time into your schedule when you can consistently get some reading in.

3. Listen to audiobooks.

To be honest, I really prefer print books. There’s something about holding a book in your hand that just can’t be replaced. But if you’re an auditory learner, or you’re literally always on the go and can’t find time to read anywhere in your schedule, audiobooks might be a good option. You can listen to them while you’re driving, working out, doing chores, walking your dog, and more; it’s a great way to get through the books you want to read while still getting other things done as well.

Using audiobooks for school reading while multitasking can be a great way to save time too. (Even consider putting them on double-speed to save even more time!) You can then use the time that you would have spent reading school books to do other things (like reading for fun, maybe…?).

4. Choose books that you can’t put down.

Finally, make sure you are reading books that pull you in, books that you will voluntarily choose over social media and all those other time-wasting activities. If forcing yourself to read Charles Dickens is going to mean you never actually read at all, then don’t try to read Charles Dickens during the school year! Maybe do that over the summer instead.

If you like classics, by all means read classics. But if you just need to read light, fun books to take a break from schoolwork, that’s totally fine too.

Here are a few of my favorite lighter reads to get you started (if you want more details about any of these feel free to leave a comment!).

Image result for paper crowns mirriam nealPaper Crowns by Mirriam Neal (fantasy, fairy tale; be sure to enter the giveaway for a copy of this if you haven’t!)

Image result for the lunar chroniclesImage result for heartlessThe Lunar Chronicles and Heartless by Marissa Meyer (sci-fi/dystopian, fantasy, fairy tale retellings; some intense scenes/violence and mostly clean romance)

Image result for the penderwicksThe Penderwicks and sequels by Jeanne Birdsall (contemporary, family)

Image result for vinegar girl Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (contemporary, clean romance; maybe some language, I don’t remember)

Image result for interrupted rachel coker Interrupted by Rachel Coker (historical, clean romance, Christian)

Image result for miss peregrine's home for peculiar children series Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and sequels by Ransom Riggs (fantasy/weird sort of historical; some language and intensity)

Image result for dragon king trilogy stephen lawhead The Dragon King trilogy by Stephen Lawhead (epic fantasy, adventure; some scary scenes/violence)

Image result for mitford series The Mitford series by Jan Karon (contemporary, family, Christian)

 

What do you think? How do you make time to read during the year? Have you read any of the books I recommended, and what others would you recommend? Share in the comments! 

love, grace

 

 

 

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Remember…Take It One Step at a Time

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Last week I reminded myself and all of you that we can’t do everything. Today, I have one more thing to share with you that I hope will help you manage your stress and enjoy life.

Because the truth is, even if you are only doing essential things and not trying to do everything, life as a teenager can be very stressful, confusing, and somewhat scary. Once you hit high school, you have a million things flying at you and you’re suddenly expected to make a bunch of decisions that will impact the rest of your life (or at least some of it).

School, church, extracurriculars, college prep, home life, friendships…it can get overwhelming. But the Bible has something to say about that.

I want to bring the encouragement of Matthew 6 to any of you who are feeling overwhelmed and stressed:

“Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” -Matthew 6:34

This is the answer to the stress of this phase of life and every other phase after: Take it one step at a time. 

Don’t think about the things you have to do in two weeks. Don’t think about how many decisions you have to make in the next year. Just think about this:

What does God want you to spend today doing? 

And then, to narrow it down more, what does He want you to spend the next hour doing?

Just do that thing, with your full attention, to the best of your ability. And then, do the next thing, and the next.

When a big decision comes your way, choose the best path that you can and move forward from that, one step at a time once again, trusting that God is in control and that one decision will not make or break your life.

If you trust God to direct you, all you have to do is keep moving forward, using your time wisely to complete the work that He places in front of you.

Let Him take care of the rest.

Let’s seek peace together this school year by placing it all in God’s hands and simply moving forward each day, one step at a time.

love, grace

Remember…You Don’t Have to Do It All Now

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School has started, and I’m realizing something: I can’t do everything. 

There are so many things I want to do. They sound so interesting and fun, and I have way too many interests to pursue all of them. So I’m having to make some very conscious decisions about what I choose to prioritize and how I spend my time. And that’s okay. 

It’s a simple truth, yes, but it’s something that we often have a lot of trouble accepting. Especially when, in this day and age, we have opportunities coming our way right and left. Play this sport! Sign up for this class! Join this club! Do this volunteer job! Apply for this job! Participate in this activity!

There’s something I want everyone reading this to remember. You don’t have to do everything right now! 

There’s a point to keeping bucket lists and things like that. You aren’t going to be able to take every opportunity immediately at this point in your life, but just because you can’t do something now doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to pursue it.

As a teenager, you’ve got your whole life in front of you. Don’t be afraid to put things that sound fun on your “someday” list and move on. Want to learn to surf? Great. Maybe not this year. Want to play tennis? Great. How about in a few years when you actually have time. Want to learn to dance? Great. There are adult dance classes being offered all over the place.

There will be a few things that come to the forefront of your life that you need to focus on. Remember that you don’t have to take up twenty hobbies at once in your spare time. Save some of them for later.

And if all else fails? You can learn to surf in heaven. 🙂

love, grace

What do you think? Are you tempted to do everything right now and get overbooked and overwhelmed? Share in the comments below!