6 tips to reading more books

Silent Book Club Birmingham Chapter Meeting
Silent Book Club Meeting. Photo via Javacia Harris Bowser for Bham Now

Do you read books as much as you’d like? I fancy myself a writer and Stephen King once said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Read on and find out how you can read more books in Birmingham.

1. Check out the Birmingham chapter of the Silent Book Club

Photo of Javicia Harris Bowser reading a book
Javacia reading at Silent Book Club. Photo via Javacia Harris Bowser for Bham Now

So, like many people, I want to read more books this year and beyond. I decided to turn to Birmingham’s chapter of Silent Book Club and Birmingham’s new bookstore Thank You Books for help. 

Megan Tsang Hand is the founder of the Birmingham chapter of Silent Book Club—monthly meetups that take place in cities across the country where book lovers come together to silently read the text of their choice.

As a kid, Megan thought she didn’t like to read. But in college, she realized she simply hadn’t been reading books she enjoyed. Now she reads about 100 books a year. 

“Do what’s most convenient. Read when you’re at the DMV, when you’re getting your oil changed, when you’re using the bathroom. [laughs]. And if your commute is your only free time, try audiobooks.”

Megan Tsang Hand

I’ve been attending Birmingham’s chapter of Silent Book Club since it started in 2018. I got my most recent read from Thank You Books and I asked folks there and at Silent Book Club what tips they would offer to people like me who are looking to read more.

2. Join a book club

Photo of Silent Book Club founders Madison Newport and Megan Tsang Hand
Silent Book Club leaders Madison Newport and Megan Tsang Hand. Photo via Javacia Harris Bowser for Bham Now

The Birmingham chapter of Silent Book Club meets at 6PM on the first Monday of each month at Revelator Coffee in Mountain Brook. Madison Newport started attending in January 2019 and says Silent Book Club helped her read about 20 books last year. In November, Madison signed on to co-lead the Birmingham chapter with Megan. 

“Being somewhere else, where I’m not distracted by my animals or snacks or Netflix helps me focus and be able to read for a longer period of time,” Madison says.  

Christena Williams, who admits that she hardly ever read books before she started coming to Silent Book Club, can relate.  

“At home, I get caught up in everything else I need to do. When you have to show up somewhere it makes it a little bit more official. It’s a set time and date and I know for sure I’m going to come here and read even if I don’t read at home.”

Christena Williams

Thank You Books also offers two book clubs:  

  • Paperback Book Club, for those who want to read and discuss books that have been on shelves for a while
  • New & Notable Book Club, for those who want to read and discuss newer works. 

3. Find what you like

“Start out reading exactly what you want to and discard any preconceived idea of what you think you should be reading,” says Will Jones, who’s new to the Birmingham chapter of Silent Book Club. 

Not sure what you like? Thank You Books can help. 

“We love making recommendations and helping you find just the right book, whether you’re an avid reader or someone who feels a bit overwhelmed,” says co-owner Kristen Iskandrian.

4. Read in the margins

Photo of Christina Williams reading a book
Christena Williams reading at Silent Book Club. Photo via Javacia Harris Bowser for Bham Now

While Kristen believes you should set aside time to read every day, she also thinks you should read whenever and wherever you can. 

“Read while your pasta water boils or while you’re sitting in the waiting room,” Kristen says. “If you always carry a book with you, you may be more likely to read when you have unexpected free time.”

5. Give yourself a reading challenge

Both Megan and Madison say Silent Book Club not only helps them read more but challenges them to do so, too. 

“I wouldn’t want to bring the same book two months in a row,” Madison says. “People would know! They would notice!”

Madison also often checks out books from a local library and uses the due date as a deadline for completing the book. 

6. Make reading books a family affair

If you have children, Kristen thinks you should make reading a family affair. 

“Designate 10 or 15 minutes in the evenings to read together,” she says. “Set a timer, pick a cozy spot, make an event of it.”

Kristen wants Birmingham’s bibliophiles to know that Thank You Books is more than just a book store. 

“We hope to help build the literary community here in Birmingham,” she says, “and to be a refuge from the noise of daily life.”

Have tips on how to read more? Tag us @bhamnow and let us know.

Article by Javacia Harris Bowser – learn more about Javacia at See Jane Write.