When it comes to books, summer gets all the glory.
Every spring, readers start talking about their summer reading list, comparing notes with their reader friends, chittering like cheery chickadees among daffodil sprouts (sorry for the cheep alliteration).
I get it. For those of us who live in relatively safe and even modestly wealthy parts of the world where access to books is often taken for granted, summer is a time to slow down and take some time off work. Even if it’s just for an hour in the backyard.
If books have feelings—as I imagine many readers believe—I wonder how they must feel as summer draws to a close.
At the beginning of summer, books that have spent months on shelves are suddenly free to lead readers on fantastic adventures to faraway places where they encounter fictitious characters who turn into best friends…or worst enemies.
But eventually, when nights get cooler and spiders begin spinning beautiful stories of their own, readers return to work, school, and the routines of life. After the glory days of summer, many books return to the shelf.
I imagine some books might feel relief. They’ve spent warm days at the beach, blissfully tolerating sand kicked in their faces and water inadvertently splashed across their pages. Of course, the books didn’t care at the time. The thrill of being cherished and listened to outweighed any minor mistreatment. Books—or, more accurately, the stories they preserve—are resilient. They were made for this.
Even so, I wonder how books feel after a busy summer. For those books that might experience mild seasonal depression, I think there’s hope.
What if, as readers, we could help by carrying our bookish enthusiasm and ambitious reading lists into the fall and winter?
NOTE: You avid readers can ignore that last question (and maybe even stop reading now) because for you, there is no preferred reading season. But seasonal readers need a bit of motivation.
Here’s some ideas to help maintain your summer reading habits year round.
Try something like the Goodreads challenge. Or check with your local library. Most public libraries have summer reading challenges, but they also have fall, winter, and spring challenges.
Find a group of friends, agree on a reading list, read the books, then meet to discuss them. You can even do it without wine. Maybe.
Read with a friend
If a group is too hard to organize, find a friend or family member and create a smaller book club.
Track your reading
Habits can be addicting, but they can change. Consider shaking up your daily routine.
Schedule time to read
If the best time for you to read is at night, start your bedtime routine an hour earlier, turn off electronics and screens (unless you prefer e-readers or audiobooks), and read.
If you can’t stay awake to read, try getting up earlier and read before the day gets too busy.
Maybe lunch time is better for you.
Whatever you decide, you’ll soon develop a habit that you look forward to every day.
Not everyone can stay awake long enough to read more than a few pages while horizontal under the covers. Maybe try a comfy chair in a cozy corner or outside under a favorite tree (assuming you’re dressed for the cooler weather).
Change another habit
Instead of sitting down to binge a couple of hours of your favorite streaming service or watching a game (hey, sports enthusiasts read too!), try cutting that time in half and share the space with a book.
Try Something New
If you love to read fantasy novels, mix in a thriller now and then. Or find a poet that speaks to you and find one of their books. As a fantasy reader, poetry was never easy for me until I discovered Mary Oliver.
If you prefer paperback books, experiment with an e-reader or audiobook. Go ahead. Most paperbacks are thick-skinned and will not think you’re cheating on them.
Visit curated “Best books” lists
Subscribe to book podcasts
As summer transitions into autumn, don’t let your love for reading grow cold.
Maybe this year your fall or winter reading lists will be just as exciting as your summer reading list…without the icy beverage to sip or the warmth of the sand between your toes, of course.