How Lane became a reader, one book at a time.
BY LANE SHEATS
Today, I have the honor of hosting a guest writer on my blog. Anytime I post a picture of Lane reading online, people always ask me: How do you get your husband to read like that?! Well, friends, the journey wasn’t easy but I’m officially married to a bookworm these days. I figured I would ask the man himself, Lane Sheats, to tell you all about how he became a reader, one book at a time. Thanks for guest blogging, babe! You’re the best!
I began 2019 with a tradition Hannah introduced me to only a few months after we started dating in the Fall of 2015 – New Year’s goal-setting.
Just a little backstory: A week before the new year in December of 2015, Hannah asked me to set some goals with her and prefaced by saying, “This is a huge deal and it will definitely take more than a few hours to set goals for the new year” after I caught myself thinking this would be a quick thirty minute session. Knowing Hannah, this event was more than just a random day of setting fun and cheesy resolutions. This was a day that would set the entire course of our year.
If there’s one thing you probably already know about Hannah is that she loves a new goal, challenge, or plan. I love this about her!
One thing I wanted to do in the year ahead was read more (especially if I was going to date and hopefully marry an author). I think that first year I set a goal of reading 10 books but only read two. Going into 2017 I kept that same goal. Once again, I only ever read two books.
So now, back to the beginning of 2019…
“Babe, I’m going to read 20 books this year,” I told Hannah. “I know I can do this.”
“Don’t you think you should maybe shoot for 5 or 10 so you at least have something attainable to work towards?” Hannah asked.
I could have done that. However, to know me is to know I believe that I can overcome any odds or personality traits that define me. I wanted to attain this goal, not for the sake of checking something off a list or patting myself on the back for looking smart. I truly wanted to become someone who doesn’t just consume headlines, tweets, and podcasts but someone who actually digs into the world of great literary content, philosophical ideas, scientific truths, and social issues for myself.
Well, 2019 started differently than any other year in my life that I can remember. I lost my job two days before my thirty-third birthday. Mind you, this was after just moving into our new house two weeks earlier needing to sell our first house.
How could I start a new discipline with so many life-changing events happening all around me?
Right after losing my job, Hannah and I sat down and created a daily schedule to make sure I made the most of my days. We built in two different reading times – one was for reading my Bible and the other was for reading any book of my choosing. I began to find time in the afternoon and force myself to sit down and just start reading.
Through discipline and the action of creating a list of books I wanted to get to, I’ve gone from reading two books a year to already 10+ books in for 2019. So what is different for me? I’ve written out these ideas for anyone who wants to read more (or get their significant other to read more) on a regular basis:
CREATE SPACE TO READ
Are you someone who wants to read more?
My first piece of advice is forcing yourself to create space and time and to just sit down somewhere that is conducive to reading.
For me, I began to throw on a nice pair of sweat pants and sweatshirt and sit on my front porch to just enjoy the fresh cool air and a great book in my hands. I believe the environment plays a huge role.
One Monday night I found myself at our favorite local coffee shop, Taproom (this was because Hannah hosts girlfriends to watch The Bachelor every Monday night so I slip away for my own version of a bachelor night), I brought my two books with me, ordered a nice local beer, and began plugging away. A month later, I found myself getting amped up every Monday afternoon for my “Taproom and reading night”.
FORCE + REPETITION
If there’s some new routine or goal you have in mind you must make time and then actually force yourself to act on it. I got excited after flying through a book the first couple weeks and began to add a second book.
The second step for me was repeating this experience of going to a coffee shop to read more than once. Taproom became a reward for me. I knew I could come here and disconnect, drink a refreshing cold brew, and plug away at a book that I truly enjoyed. I also began to notice that while I was reading I wouldn’t even look at my phone for extended periods of time.
With enough force and repetition, it became a habit to grab my book and head to my front porch instead of turning the TV on.
CREATE A LIST
What’s cool about reading, as opposed to other hobbies, is that it’s a profitable experience. You gain something immediately by picking up a book and beginning to read.
Creating a list of books to read in the future can really motivate you to keep going. I love planning my next book to read which can make it easier to finish the current book so you can start on the next one.
I made sure I had a list of books that made me excited about the pleasure, education, and enjoyment of reading. For you, you may experiment in grabbing that political book you’ve been waiting to read, that dystopian novel, that murder/mystery, or that new deep theological book your mentor recommended.
Make your list diverse and challenging so you can mix up the types of books, and what you’re learning, from month to month.
I’d love to hear from you: what tips and tricks do you have to make reading a habit you stick with throughout the year?