Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

how to read more

264: Summer Reading Resources

Ever wanted to read more? (It’s one of the best ways I’ve found to grow my biz!) Get my favorite summer reading resources at TaraSwiger.com/podcast264

It’s summer! And that means it is time for summer reading. This may be the time where you’re spending more time than ever with your family and you just need a break with a book!

I get so many questions about how I read so much, what books I recommend, that I wanted to put together a whole resource episode with absolutely everything – my best tips, the tools I use, the sites I read, the books I recommend for your business and for your summer.

Usually I talk about running a business and mindset and once a month I share what I’m reading, but here’s the truth: I’m recording this ahead of time before it’s even June, so I can’t tell you what I read in June. And I’m taking a break from the podcast to spend my summer with my foster kids and with lots of books and the pool. But no fear! You’ll still get episodes every single week, because I planned WAY ahead!

What better way to go into the summer than to talk about what I love best about summer, which is ALSO the number one key to building my business: books! Everything I know about my business I learned through trial and error and experimenting and I figured out what to try and how to experiment from books.

But I know a lot of us struggle with reading more, so today I’m going to help with that! We’ll talk about how to read more, how to find a book you’ll like, and resources of my favorite book lists, (including the best books for your business, mindset and mental health).

Summer and books have been linked in my mind ever since I was a kid and participated in the library reading challenges – did you have these? The library would publish cards like a game board and you’d fill it in with the books you read, and then you’d win prizes. And do you remember “The Pizza Hut Book It!” program? I had to look it up because it was such a huge part of my childhood – winning PIZZA for reading (and getting the fabulous holographic pin) was really the highlight of my year, and also just about the only sport I ever competed in! While I was writing this episode, I went to look it up and Book It! is still around! Their website has tons of good resources – reading trackers, activities –  for you and your kids! You can sign up for the Summer Reading Program and get weekly emails with reading suggestions and projects.

I record this it’s late May and I’ve already read more than 75 books in 2019. I often get asked: How do I read so much? A few years ago I put together a guide: How to read 100 books a year.

How to read more

The key to reading more is to read what you like, always have plenty of books on your list and on your shelf and to stop when you want.

The thing so many adults struggle with is to read what you like – give yourself permission to read what feels good, even if it’s not what you think you “should” be reading. Maybe you love YA fantasy, maybe you love romances, maybe you love comics. It really doesn’t matter, reading anything gets yourself into the habit, and you can use that habit to read more of the books that will educate you on what you want to learn (ie. business or psychology).

You also have to have ENOUGH books, so that you can immediately pick up the next one. That means enough on your To Read list and enough in your actual home (or on your Kindle). If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I bring home anywhere from 5-15 books at a time from the library. In the rest of the episode we’ll cover how to find more books for your list, how to keep track of it, and how to find more of what you like.

And finally, you really need to let yourself stop when you want to. Maybe you put the book down for just a few days, or you wait until your more awake, or you just don’t like it and you stop altogether – life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy!

How to find books you’ll like

Did you know your library has a Reader Advisory? They can suggest books, if you know what you like. They also published lists of books that are like other books, or that are on a topic you wanna learn more about!

There’s also a great online resource, through your library, called Books and Authors. (I think your library has to have hooked it up for you to access it. Check your library’s website. You can look up any book and it will tell you other books like it. Even if it’s been years since you really liked a book, if you can identify even one, you can find another!

Another way to find the books that YOU are likely to like is to find reviewers you like and read what they suggest. 

  • on Goodreads (look at reviews of your favorite books, click on the profile of a review you particularly like and then read a few other reviews by them. If you agree and/or you like they’re writing, check out their most recent reviews and you will find some new books you’ll like!). I like Emily May.
  • in papers (NY review of books, LA Times, etc)

Check out lists!

How to find books for kids?

  • Help your kid(s) identify what they like in a story. Start with 3-5 stories they’ve loved (movies, video games) and help them dig into the aspects they liked best. This is a great way to help them find the words to talk about books and stories, too!
  • Check out nonfiction! If your kid nerds out about ANYTHING (even movies and video games!) there are books about it!

Comics count! 

Comics are a great way to get a reticent reader to read!
You can find “graphic novels” which are the collected issues of a storyline of a comic, at your library! Once you know you like a comic, you can start buying it (or the graphic novels) at your local comic shop. And if you don’t have a comic shop, you can get it on your Kindle comics with a Comixology subscription.

A few of my faves that are appropriate for anyone 10+:

Ask me on Instagram! I LOVE helping you find books, I not-so-secretly really want to be a librarian (if only I can do it from home?) – tag me on your post, I’m @taraswiger or send me a DM! (Maybe I need a book recommendation podcast? Hmmm.)

How to keep track of it all? Tools I use:

  • Goodreads – I use it mostly to track books I want to read. It’s great to track books I have read, but the way I use it nearly daily is to add ANY book I’ve heard of that sounds good to my list. I’m not worried this is every going to be too big. I want it to be as big as possible, so I never run out of books that I’m excited about.
  • Library holds & requests – A few times a week (usually when I’m waiting somewhere or need a break from work), I open up my GoodReads To Read list, open up my library catalog and place a hold on a few books (Holds top out at 15 books and a lot of times this spring I topped it out. I read more than ever, but it stresses me a bit, so I’m keeping it under 10 at a time now). What about books your library doesn’t have? I just discovered the “request book” page on my library site and now I request that the library buy the books I want! This is great for new books that haven’t been released yet – by requesting it you get at the front of the line on the holds (great if a book is going to be on hold to like 20 people). I’ve also requested some quilt books and instead of buying them, my library borrowed them from another library (not one that’s connected in our catalog)
  • Libby – get ebooks and audiobooks from your library, all from your phone.
  • Book of the Month Club if you want new books before they’re released AND you want to own your books, you can’t do better than Book of The Month – you get access to brand-new books, each month. You can skip any month you want. (If you sign up from this link, I get a free book!)

Other reading bits and bobs

Favorite book podcasts:

My own summer To Read List

This summer I’m focusing on the newest books – from Anne Bogels list – and those that I already own. This list is only those I currently have, or have on reserve at the library:

How to listen

  • You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
  • You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
  • Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).

Find all the podcast episodes here.

How to read over 100 books in a year

In 2015, I read 100 books - everything from comics to classic lit to business & home decor how-tos. If you want to set a big reading goal for yourself, in this post I'll help you do that. More at TaraSwiger.com.


In 2015, I read over 100 books. Books ranging from The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl comic to War & Peace. I read Louise Hay and Jane Austen. Business books, creativity books, a big handful of novels and even more graphic novels. I finally got caught up on Buffy. I discovered and read everything by Rainbow Rowell. (You can see all the books I read in 2015 here. Only one rule: No judgement.)

And this isn't the first time. In 2012 I read 100 books and shared my experience here.

If you've been reading my blog, this is no surprise to you. I post my reading lists every month (you can find them all here) and the question I always get is “How do you do it? How do you read so much?” So that's what I'd like to share with you today: How I read 100 books in 2015 (and how you can read more, if this is one of your New Year goals!).


Before we dive in, I don't have to convince you of the value of reading, do I?

It's not just fun and relaxing, it also teaches you a new way to look at the world and introduces you to ideas, characters, and ways of living you never would have encountered. Yes, even novels and comics.

Business and creativity books can give you insights into your own business and inspire you to grow and experiment. They can also just straight up teach you something you don't know (that's why I read a book on webinars). Fiction can open up your worldview – what do other people think? How do they live? What are you assuming is “normal”?

This helps your business too. It's easy for us to believe that everyone is like us, and therefore, the thing we do isn't special. This mistake is the #1 reason people undervalue their work. Everyone is NOT like you. Their brain works in totally different ways. They have different values. They live in different worlds. Fiction can open you up to this. (Also, and I can't stress this enough: FUN. Your business needs you to relax and refill the well of your creativity. Reading someone else's creativity is a great way to do this.)

With that in mind, here's how to read more this year:

Know your why.

Do NOT resolve to read more just because I do. Read more because you want to, because you have your own awesome reasons. Your reason can be anything, but before you pick your number, think (or write) about why you want to read more. My reasons have shifted over the years. In 2012 I wrote: “The real reason I set the goal is that I love to read. Love it! But I often tell myself not to. Instead, I should be working. Or I should be reading something better (catching up on blogs, news, the latest marketing advice). But after an intense 3 months of non-stop writing to finish the book,  I decided to give myself permission to just read. As much as I wanted!”
In 2015 my reasons were a little different. I love to read (that's reason #1) and I found myself doing a lot more blog reading and Pinterest-surfing at night in bed. That just keeps me awake. Instead, I want to be reading something then (this is when I read fiction, because my brain is too tired from the day to read something think-y). And in the mornings, with my coffee, I was scrolling through Instagram, but that distracts me and gets my day focused on other people instead of my own priorities. So instead, I read (this is where the business-y, creative, and self-helpy books go).

The numbers don't matter.

Forget about the “100 books in a year” thing and focus on what YOU can do. How much did you read last year? Can you increase that by 5 books? Can you double it? (That's how I hit on 100 books – in 2011 I read 52 and I wanted to double it.)

But setting a number helps.

It doesn't matter WHAT your number is, it only matters that, if this is one of your goals, you quantify it. This will make it easier for you to celebrate your successes and make you more likely to read.

Turning simple permission (you’re allowed to read!) into a big crazy goal, lifted my passion into something important. It suddenly mattered that I get to read every day, it was a priority! If I hadn’t committed to the big number, I would have continued to question each reading session: shouldn’t I be doing something else?

Track your reading

Keep track of what you read. You'll find it comes in handy when someone asks you for a recommendation and it'll inspire you to read more. Seeing the list grow is weirdly satisfying. Also, it's the only way to know if you're meeting your goal or not! I use Goodreads for tracking my books. I only occasionally write a review or use any of the social features, I just use it to remember what I want to read (anytime I hear about a book I like, I go to GoodReads and mark it “to read”), and mark what I am reading, then move it to “read” when I finish it. And this brings us to the next tip:

Have a long To Read list.

Track what you want to read (I use GoodReads, but you could use a note on your phone or your notebook, as long as you can easily find it and add to it) and add to the list constantly. Every time you hear a great interview on a podcast, mark the book to read. Every time you hear a recommendation (next week on the podcast I'm sharing the 9 best biz books!), add it your list! Every time you come across a mention of a book in the book you're reading, at it to your list. This is why I've read so many random or woo-woo books – when more than 5 people I respect recommended a book, I read it (or at least start it). If I want to understand how smart people think, I gotta read the books they read!

(This, by the way, has led me to  some really amazing insights in books with terrible titles that I wouldn't be caught dead reading. This has also led me to discover that a lot of male entrepreneurs recommend books filled with war or sports metaphors that are utter drivel.)

Have enough books

The biggest thing that slows down my reading is not having enough books in the house. It doesn't matter if I'm into what I'm reading, if I don't know what I'm reading NEXT I drag my feet. (Never mind all those books on my Kindle.) This is where the library is a beautiful thing – I take home about twice as many books as I actually read. But that gives me variety and choices.

Read short books

Ha! This isn't a real piece of advice, but it came up when I was talking to Ruth and Joeli on Twitter. Obviously, you're going to read fewer big books… but what matters is that you READ WHAT YOU WANT. If I hadn't read so many graphic novels (which take between 2-10 hours to read, depending on the book), I'm sure my numbers would be lower. That said, it's YOUR reading, it's YOUR fun. Any book you choose “counts”. If I hadn't read War & Peace and Emma, I'm sure to have read more. (I have a shelf called “comics count”, to remind myself that i'm allowed to read whatever I want. There is no reading police.)

Give yourself permission to read what you want. And stop when you want.

There are no awards for reading the right books. Or for finishing a book.
Read what you want, when you want, and quit when you want.
There’s no guilt, no pressure. Reading is something I love to do. So if I don’t love reading this book, I remember that it’s not me, it’s the book. So I stop.

This applies to everything.

These lessons aren't just for reading, they apply to every area of your business. Set goals, track them, have lots of options at the ready, and above all, give yourself permission to focus on what you enjoy and what's working, and stop doing all the stuff you think you “should” be doing.

How can you apply these lessons to your own goal this year?

If you want to read more, what tip are you going to start applying now?