Simple strategies that work.

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Last weekend, I found myself on an hour-long ferry ride to the beach. With an elusive top-deck seat secured and the mid-afternoon sun blaring brightly down upon me, I've never been more grateful for my waterproof Kindle Paperwhite. I tugged my visor down, magnified my font to a size that would horrify my ophthalmologist but delight my tired eyeballs, and got to work. I had a demanding weekend of beach- and backyard-lazing ahead of me, and needed to settle on my breezy read of choice before the Sunbrella was unfurled and a can of sparkling lemon water was in hand.

Woman sitting outdoor reading book
Credit: SelectStock / Getty Images

On deck for this lofty task: the first chapter of The Beach House by Jane Green, followed by the first chapter of Queen Bee by Dorothea Benton Frank. By the time I exited the ferry, The Beach House had won my face-off, and I was ready to get to the nearest Adirondack chair (thanks Uncle Bob and Aunt Su!). While I had never tried this technique before to select my next read, at the end of the weekend, it got me thinking, it's probably a pretty excellent way to inspire people to read more. What about some others? Below, why this "Opening Pages" technique is so helpful on the reading front, and more page-turning — pun intended — advice.

1. Try the "Opening Pages" Technique.

One of the most common reasons people abandon a book (and then even perhaps get into a rut of not reading) is for lack of interest. When you try this strategy, you simply read the first chapter of two books you're considering back-to-back to determine the "winner," and then proceed with that book. Of course, if you like both books, you can read them both. When you put pressure on yourself to finish a book you don't like or aren't currently in the mood for, you're setting yourself up for a bad experience. Trying this method helps you pick a book you're more likely to enjoy, and since you're already on a roll with reading after finishing each opening chapter, you'll feel motivated to keep going.

2. Make a Goodreads account.

If you aren't a user already, register pronto. Not only does this social cataloging site let you set annual reading goals that inspire you to stick to regular reading sessions, but based on what books you're reading, you'll receive custom recommendations across categories like contemporary, memoir, classics, and more. To get started on your reading adventure, see this guide to the most popular books set in every Southern State from the past 10 years based on Goodreads data.

3. Read a Book Set in the South or by a Southern Author.

I don't know about you, but reading a book set in your neck of the woods or with concepts you're familiar with (porches, unpredictable weather, food name a few) automatically makes you more interested in your tome at hand. Whether you go for fiction, nonfiction, or a collection of short stories set in the region where you live or grew up, there's so much excellent Southern literature from which you can make your picks. For some inspiration, check out our list of books every Southerner should own.

4. Carry a Book Wherever You Go.

Whether you're commuting or waiting for a friend who's running late to meet at a restaurant for dinner, moments like these are times when people tend to scroll around on your phone. Ditto for standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for someone to pick you up somewhere, and sitting in the park on a beautiful day. Instead, always have a book in your bag wherever you go and make a conscious effort to use opportunities like the ones mentioned above to read. You'll be surprised at how all these times like this add up over the course of a month and how many extra books you can get through each a year.

5. Try audiobooks.

Yes, they're not for everyone. But if you find that you can pay attention to the spoken word, listening to audiobooks may open up a whole new world of books you may have otherwise never have read. Platforms like Audible, hoopla, and Scribd, have no shortage of audiobooks to download, and your local library likely has digital audiobook loan options, as well.

These days, find us on Scribd listening to Reunion Beach by Elin Hilderbrand, Adriana Trigiani and Cassandra King, explained as follows: "Southern author Dorothea Benton Frank was known for her bestselling novels that highlighted life in South Carolina's Lowcountry. After her death in 2019, one last novel remained unwritten but for its title, Reunion Beach. Fellow bestselling authors and dear friends — including Adriana Trigiani, Catherine King Conroy, and Mary Alice Monroe — claimed the title and turned it into a loving anthology filled with essays, poems, short stories, and letters in remembrance of the legend."

After that, we're trying The Devil and Harper Lee by Mark Seal, a Scribd Original about the true-crime story Lee was haunted by but never wrote, summarized as: "The legendary Southern novelist Harper Lee left us a cold case of her own. Almost two decades after writing To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee returned home to Alabama to investigate a mysterious string of murders and the charismatic reverend rumored to be the killer. But she never wrote the book."

On that note, we've got a Goodreads "Want to Read" reading list to update. And an Adirondack chair to park ourselves in this summer.