Send Some Snail Mail
Send an e-mail, text, or even an actual letter or card to a bookish friend (make sure to wash your hands first)! Let them know you're thinking about them. This could be a great time to share some of your favorite titles and get some new recommendations from others who are reading voraciously. And who doesn't love getting mail?!
Listen to Audiobooks
For me, the obvious choice when I can't sit down to physically read a book is to try an audiobook. In a study discussed in this Time article, researchers found that comprehension was not changed based on if you listened to a book or if you physically read it. The article is pretty interesting in the other aspects of audiobooks that it discusses, but I think it's a good enough excuse to stop beating myself up that I can't concentrate and to just try to meet myself where I am mentally.
You can also be physically moving while listening, so all of those chores and tasks you need to get done can happen while you're busying your mind with a book instead of your worries. Paint that bedroom! Go for a walk! Do 10 jumping jacks! Draw or color! Practice calligraphy! Having something to physically do while listening could provide that brief respite from the 24 hour news cycle we're in.
Build Your TBR
There are millions and millions of books out there. Whenever I need inspiration, I always turn to Goodreads or my bookish friends on Instagram or bookish podcasts to see what they're enjoying currently. Building my TBR or "To Be Read" list can really spark my interest in picking up a book. It's also a great way to get out of the cycle of just scrolling through your current list and feeling stuck!
Listen to Bookish Podcasts
Speaking of podcasts, nothing makes me want to pick up a good book more than hearing someone rave about it on a podcast. There are so many podcasts dedicated to bookish content now more than ever. Some of my favorites are What Should I Read Next?, 3 Book Girls, Book Riot: The Podcast, From the Front Porch, He Read She Read, Overdue, and The Librarian is In. (I would be remiss if I didn't issue a shameless plug for my episode of What Should I Read Next? here. Check out Episode #104!)
Reread an Old Favorite
People do the same thing with their favorite TV shows and movies, so why not jump back in with your favorite book? Reading a book you know you love can be just the thing to get you back in the habit. The familiar story line and characters can provide that comfort we are desperately seeking these days. An added bonus is that those characters can feel like you're visiting with an old friend...one that you don't have to stay six feet apart from!
Join or Start a Book Club
Book clubs are great ways to connect with your fellow readers on a daily basis thanks to technology! When someone is raving about a book they are reading, I know my interest is always piqued. There are thousands of book clubs you can join online on Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram. Not finding one that suits you? Start your own! Ask your friends to join you for a Zoom meeting or just a text thread.
Read Aloud with Friends
Speaking of virtually reading with friends, there are so many options to read with your friends at the same time. Host a virtual read along via Skype, Zoom, or Google Meet where someone reads a book aloud. Not only is this great in a classroom, but you can really have some great discussions with your friends as the action is happening in your book. It's similar to listening to an audiobook (unless you're the one reading aloud), but it's with friends! Having that extra personality and perspective might just jump you back into your reading game.
Host a Silent Reading Party
I have always wanted to attend one of these in my local community, but now I can host one! Silent Reading Parties are exactly what you think they are. People gather in one spot (virtually or physically) and all read at the same time. Together but separate. You can host this with a video chat element or simply set a time with your friends and family to all read in your respective homes. Check in every once and a while to see how it's going. A little background music will help set the mood. You can even create a playlist that everyone can listen to!
Celebrate First Chapter Friday
Every once in a while I'll try to entice my students to pick up a book they might not have considered by reading the first chapter of 3-4 books. We've dubbed this First Chapter Friday, and I can't tell you how well it works for even the most reluctant readers. Why not try it for yourself? Grab 3-4 books and read the first chapter of each one. Odds are that at least one of those books will be one you want to continue diving into!
Play Bookish ASMR/Ambient Music
I cannot tell you how often I get lost in a book when I have the proper atmosphere. There are hundreds of ASMR or ambient playlists on YouTube that are themed to your favorite books, movies, or video games. I've spent hours in the Ravenclaw Common Room. My students love to kick up their feet and read with the fireplace on the projector or tv screen. There are so many people creating content like this, but one of my favorites is Ambient Worlds on YouTube. They have everything from Disney World, to Pandora, to The Lord of the Rings, to Narnia.
Exercise with Reading Sprints
In the same vein as First Chapter Friday, set aside a specific time where you turn off all electronics, set aside all devices, and just read for 10, 20, or 30 minutes. These are adorably named "reading sprints" because it is not meant for a long slog of reading, but just enough to get some substantial plot progression under your belt. As with any exercise, start with an attainable goal for you. As you start to get back into the groove, you can increase your time!
Explore Page to Film
One of my favorite pastimes is to watch adaptations of my favorite books. They almost always make me want to dive into the original version to compare and contrast. These are also great conversation starters because you can bond over the skipped scenes, the plot changes, and whether or not your favorite characters were correctly cast!
Organize Your Bookshelves
Simply looking at what you currently have (digitally or physically) can be the perfect way to dive into your next read. Any time I reorganize a book I find myself reading a few pages...or chapters...of an old favorite. It's almost impossible for me to reorganize my shelves without being distracted by books I forgot I owned that I have been wanting to read for such a long time! If you are anything like me, I know this will be a fool-proof way to find your next read.
I hope at least one of these tips and tricks will help you release some anxiety and get back into our favorite activity. After all, as Mason Cooley said, "Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are."