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Read More to Write More: Reading Habits to Bring with You into the New Year

Have you heard the adage, "read more to write more"? My bedside table has a constant stream of one or two books that flow in and out until I am ready to swap in a new read. The same four-square-feet of surface also holds a notebook, pen, and my tablet. I set my world up for me to read or write at a moment's notice.

I have a confession—despite my status as a professional writer; I am not great at keeping a journal. In the past, I would have made a grand New Year's Resolution to correct this behavior and vowed to journal every single day in one of the many beautiful journals I received as a present from my supportive husband. Instead, I am layering habits courtesy of James Clear's Atomic Habits and adding in morning pages on my iPad before I get out of bed.

Here are a few gentle ways to bring more reading into your life:

Measure what you want to improve.

If you want to "read more" this year than you did last year, do you know exactly how many books you read last year? Track your reading and want-to-read lists on Goodreads or ItalicType. Goodreads integrates with Facebook and your Kindle to let your friends know what you are reading. ItalicType is newer to me and I am still checking out all of its features. I am exploring its Group Chat feature with one of my book clubs.

Add audiobooks to your playlist.

Yes, listening to audiobooks does count as reading. I am a great fan of listening to them as I fold laundry, and I know people who listen to them while running or cycling. If you are in the United States, your library may have access to OverDrive, Hoopla, or another streaming service where you can download audiobooks to your phone or computer.

Schedule time to go to your local library.

The library is one of my happy places and it delighted me when they extended their hours during the pandemic to serve the community. Jacksonville Public Library is an award-winning library system with more than a dozen locations. My favorite spot is Main, the downtown branch though I don't get there nearly as often as I would like.

Join a book club (or two, or three).

Book clubs take many shapes and forms these days. You can still find the neighborhood ones with wine and cheese or if you have more niche interests, create an online discussion group to chat about your favorite topics and authors. If you want a place to start, I will be hosting an informal book club via ItalicType to discuss the books below:

12 Books Writers Should Read in 2022 That Aren't About Writing

January's suggested read is by Dr. Micheal Breus. The official mouthful of a title is The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype--and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More. This is a great read when you are setting intentions and working to optimize different areas of your life.

February's suggested read is by Twyla Tharp, a creative professional I hold on par with Stephen Sondheim. She choreographed four Broadway shows and, at last count 160 works, 129 dances, 12 TV specials, 6 Hollywood movies and 4 full-length ballets. I have reread this book every year since 2015 and I plan to continue that rhythm ad infinitum.

The last issue of the Well-Read, Well-Written newsletter I explained how to make any industry interesting. In March's suggested read, Jim Doyle explains how any industry can sell with a servant heart, even in traditionally harder-to-soften industries like finance, insurance, and care sales. This book popped on my radar as a suggestion from Jennifer Darling. (If you don't know her, you should!! Click on her name to follow her on LinkedIn.)

After Carol Dweck's Mindset and Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow, I definitely have the brain book bug. For April's suggested read, I am looking forward to reading Annie Murphy Paul's book about how we can use the world around us for inspiration and breakthroughs in thought. I hope this inspires you to find a topic that fascinates you, double-down on it to read similar and adjacent ones as well.

May's suggested read is Brene Brown's newest release. Her nonfiction books become automatic bestsellers for good reason; she is known for taking complex topics like emotion and vulnerability, and explaining them in a simple and engaging way. Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience builds on her other work, but you can dive straight in if you are new to her books. Dare to Lead is one of my favorites of her many worthwhile reads.

June's suggested book is a quick read by Shane Snow. In Smartcuts, he expertly connects the dots between breakthroughs in pop culture and business. I have read this a few times and it has a permanent place on my bookshelf to remind me to be ever flexible in the way I approach challenges.

July's suggested read is on my want-to-read list because I love cookbooks that bring in nonfiction elements beyond cooking. The narrative style of Love Soup changed how I see cookbooks and Tabitha Brown's celebrity presence and joy for life make me excited to try her vegan recipes and sample her shared wisdom.

August's suggested read is a great way to kick off the school year. Amy Whitaker is a rare MFA and MBA and teaches arts entrepreneurship at NYU. This is my favorite of her books, although Museum Legs is a worthwhile read as well. Art Thinking is a great example of how a nonfiction book can intersect the academic and conversational styles.

A staple in the productivity world, Cal Newport is the author of four business books and three geared toward students. Digital Minimalism was a game-changer for me when I listened to the audiobook last year and I look forward to re-reading it in September. NO spoilers, but I deleted my Facebook account after implementing some of his suggestions.

This is my favorite nonfiction book of all time. I recommend it to everyone I know because it is so delightfully written. Taras Grescoe is an award-winning writer who pulls no punches in his chosen topics. He currently has six other nonfiction books. For The Devil's Picnic he toured the world trying banned foods in many countries and had a rollicking good time researching the foods governments don't want their citizens to eat. His recounting of rebellious food adventures is a great read anytime of year, but October especially so since it's already a dark month.

November's suggested read sets up the holiday season with and extra helping of gratitude. Written by the former editor of Parade Magazine, this book recounts Janice Kaplan's New Year’s Eve promise to be grateful and look on the bright side of whatever happens. I'm interested to read her year in the life as she brings in advice from psychologists, academics, doctors, and philosophers.

Get a head-start on next year's optimization plan! December's suggested read will have you setting achievable goals while visioning the bigger mountains you want to climb. James Clear's first book did exceptionally well and makes great use of footnotes while staying mainstream. A good example to follow for readers and writers alike.

How many books do you plan to read this year? Tell me about them in the comments.


Spotlight Member Chrissy Das is a creative analytical who ghostwrites for busy business leaders. Leveraging her professional background in publishing and her high standards as an editor, overwhelmed authors hire her when they are ready to finish their next business book. She lives near St. Augustine, Florida, with her husband and their dog Neil.


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