My simple secret to make more time to read (free download!)

A free desktop and iphone wallpaper download to help readers and book lovers make more time to read.

Last night, Jarrett and I brushed our teeth, put on our pajamas, cozied into bed, and pulled out our phones. We sat there, side by side, looking straight at those little glowing screens, transfixed by what was inside.

Which for me, was maybe memes on Instagram. And for Jarrett, was probably MgoBlog. I’m not sure which is more intellectually embarrassing, but let’s just say that neither is a tour-de-force of critical thinking.

(What? You’re saying that reading about Michigan football is much better than memes, because at least it’s words and analysis? Pipe down, please, is what I say.)

Do you ever get in bed, ready to read a book, but end up on your phone instead? Or maybe you’re tired at the end of the workday and you end up watching TV instead of reading? Or you have an endless to-do list and making time to read somehow always gets pushed to the bottom of it?

I personally have never done those things, because my life is books and I always make time to read.

(Can you hear how hard I’m laughing? That is a rolling-on-the-floor hilarious lie.)

The truth is, I am hopelessly weak in the face of technology and distractions, and sometimes it’s really hard for me to make time to read. Maybe you, too?

secret to make time to read

But over the years, I’ve tried nearly every kind of experiment to try to become intentional and disciplined about making time to read, especially with setting boundaries between screen time and reading time. 

Here are 3 things I experimented with on my quest to make time to read:

  • I deleted Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram from my phone. (Sneaky, sad me now mostly checks them through the browser.)
  • I cancelled cable. (I don’t miss it. And that’s because: Netflix! Which sort of defeats the purpose here, right?)
  • I lived a whole year without Internet or a TV in my apartment. (I know this sounds like a crazy hermit thing, but it was surprisingly fun. I cooked! I took bubble baths! I doodled and played with watercolors! I read untold amounts of books! I could never do it again.)

Here’s the one simple thing I do to make time to read that actually works:

You see, I’ve discovered that I’m wily and resourceful and will find almost any way to get my digital fix in. Which is fine, sometimes, since there’s nothing wrong with enjoying some Instagram and Facebook here and there, and I do need to be up on social media for my job.

Most likely, you need the online world, too, and maybe you’re trying to balance using social media for work/play with your reading/writing time. And maybe you need a little bit of online time to say hi to me, so we can be bad influences on each other? Ha!

So going cold turkey doesn’t work.

But we do know how life-giving and refreshing it is to unplug, to make time for reading and the quietness and space it brings. Reading is our escape, and nothing feels better at the end of a long day than getting lost in a story.

So how do we snap ourselves out of the mindless online scrolling and make ourselves pick up a book?

Visual reminders.

One of the best ways I’ve found to make time to read is to set traps–in the form of countless visual reminders–so books and bookish things are always in my line of sight and top of mind.

Often, it’s hard to remember that “Oh yeah, I have a great book to read!” if there’s not someone or something putting that thought in front of us all day. We forget how deeply we love to read, and instead, we settle for the pleasurable, but not happiness-producing, activity instead.

What kind of visual reminders work best?

It can be anything from a stack of books on your nightstand to a pop-up reminder on your phone at times you know you want to read: right before bed, after dinner, or early in the morning.

But the best visual reminders are built in to the things that most distract you, which for most of us is our computer or smartphone.

So today I’m sharing this free + cute desktop and iphone wallpaper that will gently kick your butt off of social media, TV, or the internet and remind you that a much better adventure awaits.

For your computer:

free desktop wallpaper for book lovers

For your phone:

free desktop wallpaper for book lovers

Click here to access The Library and download
these free computer and phone wallpapers for book lovers!

You’ll find these free downloads in The Library, which is our archive of all of the best bookish art prints, publishing workbooks, seasonal bookmarks, cookbook accessories, literary printables, and more.

I hope these simple little reminders help you reach for a book instead of your phone each night. Because books > memes and Mgoblog.


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What I’m Reading This Week

2017 National Book Award Finalists Revealed (CBS News): Here are the finalists in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature for the National Book Awards! How many of these have you read?

The Quiet That Leads to Rediscovering Your Voice (Kayla Dean): “The more online articles I read, the more I felt that something about my work wasn’t saying what I wanted it to. Plenty of people will tell you to keep writing through it. And you should. But sometimes you have to do the kind of work that feels private enough that it allows your thoughts to breathe.” A lovely piece on how we need quiet as writers and creatives. (Also, Kayla was the winner of the galley giveaway for How to Get Sh*t Done on Instagram this week! Follow me there for more book giveaways and behind-the-scenes fun.)

The Only Productivity Tip You’ll Ever Need (James Clear): I swear by this tip, and I try to do it almost every day. But it is not easy.

The Mind of John McPhee: A Deeply Private Writer Shares His Obsessive Process (Sam Anderson for The New York Times Magazine): I am deeply obsessive about both John McPhee and the writing process, so check and check. I’ve been reading his newest book, Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process, before bed this week, and it feels like an adventurous bedtime story wrapped in a soothing lullaby.

What Does Your Seltzer Choice Say About You? (Maggie Lange for Bon Appetit’s Healthyish): This has nothing to do with the above except that seltzer is my other deep obsession. And the descriptions of each seltzer personality are an awesome example of edgy humor writing. Apparently, I should just stay home on a Friday night. #SpindriftForever 

The 3 Biggest Pitch Mistakes This Editor Sees Every Day (Nicole Dieker for The Write Life): This is a must-read piece if you’re doing any sort of pitching–don’t make these newbie mistakes!

What We’re Eating This Week

We’re actually eating nice things this week! How long has it been since I’ve been able to say that?

Monday: Red Lentil Soup, Dal Style, from Smitten Kitchen Every Day (Can you tell how much I love this book already? There’s still time to preorder here!)

Tuesday: Beefsteak Skirt Salad with Parsley Basil Vinaigrette, also from Smitten Kitchen Every Day but made really special by the last of the summer tomatoes and farm eggs from a family friend in Michigan. (Yes, the tomatoes and eggs made a cross-country trip in my mother-in-law’s backseat, all in the name of one last bite of summer goodness.)

Wednesday: Going old-school and making a Fettuccine Alfredo that is a frankenrecipe from America’s Test Kitchen Comfort Food Makeovers and From Freezer to Table. Can I call it Frankenccine Alfredo? Sounds sophisticated, no?

Thursday: Beef Bulgogi Tacos with Cabbage Slaw, inspired by a recipe in Smitten Kitchen Every Day, with a mix of the Quesadilla recipe in From Freezer to Table and a dash of I’m a lunatic and can never make things easy.


secret to make more time to read

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