When I talk about how I read a lot of books, people often ask me how I get so much reading done. Don’t you have a life? Are you a speed reader? No, and sort of. Like any mega-reader, it’s a mix of tricks to read more books. Here at Book Riot, our contributors have developed different methods to read more books. Read on for some of our favorite ways to fit more reading in your life, and leave a comment to share your own tips.
Become a book polygamist
It wasn’t until the last few months that I started reading multiple books at once. For me, 2015 and 2016 were both “meh” reading years. In November 2016, I went a whole month without finishing a book, something that had not happened since spring 2013, according to my Goodreads records. Gradually, I realized that part of what was holding me back was not reading many books I actually enjoyed, and only reading one at a time at that. If I wasn’t reading much, it was often because I wasn’t loving the book I was reading. At the end of the year, though, I started reading more than one book at a time, and since then, I’ve read more. If I’m not feeling a thriller at the moment, it doesn’t mean I have to stop reading entirely. I’ll just flip over to something lighter. The only downside is sometimes I will be in the middle of so many things that I don’t finish anything for a while. Then a few weeks go by and, BAM, like dominos, I finish a bunch of books in a wave. If you can juggle several books at once (and I suggest varying up genre and length), you might find that giving your reading mind more options could help your “Read” count go higher.
put your phone over there. No, keep going.
Put your phone in a drawer. Far away from you. You’d be surprised how much reading time gets eaten up every time you get a text, or a ping from an app, or you pause while reading in the middle of a page just to glance at Twitter. While there are a bunch of reading tips for sneaking in reading time during a busy life, I find it just as important to actually just focus on reading when you sit down to.
read in the morning
When I started reading in the morning in addition to reading at night, the number of books I finished per year rose by about 25%. I set my alarm 30 minutes before I actually need to start getting ready for work, and I take that time to read in bed. My nighttime reading is with a print book, but my morning reading is on my Kindle. I find the Paperwhite is easier on my eyes than a print book, especially in the morning when I’m still groggy. It’s also a different book than my nighttime reading. I read much slower in the morning than at night, but it feels luxurious to lie in bed and read while the sun is rising and the birds are singing outside the window. Well, luxurious to a reader!
and at lunch, too
Lunch reading is the way to go! I always get more reading done when I try to set aside time for it in the middle of the day. Of course I’m not always successful. It’s tempting to work through lunch, but there is nothing like taking 30 minutes away from my desk to read. In addition to giving me more time to discover great books, it also gives my brain a break from working with numbers and answering emails.
Getting an Amazon Echo has caused me to “read” more books. I keep her in my kitchen and say, “Alexa, play my book!” when I’m cooking, eating and doing the dishes. I’m planning on getting a Dot to use in my exercise room. And I’m even thinking about getting a Dot for my bedroom for when I have bouts of insomnia. I got my wife a Dot for Valentine’s Day. She works out of town and she claims she’s listening to more books too. She used to only listen to books driving back and forth from home.
Read shorter books to get going
I recently wrote about this for Stylist but here’s one tip they didn’t include: I find that reading short books is a great way for me to build momentum. I’m a slow reader, so I can get frustrated with myself and when I get in a spiral of discouragement I end up reading less. But when I finish book after book and get ahead of my Goodreads goal, it makes me want to keep going.
Don’t skip leg day
I read when I am on exercise equipment, and it has changed my world. I am infinitely happier when I am active and when I am reading, but work and kids and “real life” often get in the way. I’ve found that if I really love the book I’m taking to the gym, it’s an extra incentive to get me to go, and I can get two happy-making things done at the same time. Added bonus: if the plot is thickening, I’ll extend my workout to find out what happens next. Endorphins AND excitement! Whenever my mental health is suffering, I ask myself when was the last time I read on the elliptical machine.
download the forest app
I reserve an hour before bedtime to reading, every single night. That really helps me keep up with my reading list. I also tend to set myself yearly goals on Goodreads which makes me into a competitive reader so I tend to read more to hit that goal. An obvious thing is putting your phone away, but I’ve found that downloading the app Forest–it basically forces you to stay away from your phone, because if you touch it, your tree will die!–has helped me not check social media obsessively. I’ve also deleted Facebook from my phone and disabled Twitter notifications.
while drying your hair. yes, seriously.
I try to find small pockets of time every day to read, but there’s one that people always tend to find… odd. I read while I’m drying my hair. I have curly hair and use a fairly specific method for drying that involves me sitting on a chair, having my hair flipped over, and the dryer in the same spot for several minutes at a time. So I’ve incorporated my reading as a way to also time how long I’ve concentrated the dryer on my hair for each section. Depending on the density of the text, size of print, etc I will decide that each section of my hair should have the dryer on it for X pages. Once I’ve completed X pages, I move on to the next section and begin all over again. It’s a great way to add a little extra reading time to my day, and honestly, I always like having those few moments during the hectic morning rush to enjoy whatever book I’m reading and kind of center myself for the day to come. What? DON’T JUDGE ME!
let yourself dnf
This is going to sound strange, but I started finishing more books when I started not finishing books. There was a time when a book I wasn’t really into would swamp me for months. I didn’t want to read it, it certainly wasn’t pulling me in every free moment, and I wouldn’t start a new book because I’d already spent so long trying to finish this one! Then I became a librarian. I realized that there are too many books out there that I’ll love for me to waste time on the ones that aren’t for me. If I’m unsure, I give a book 50 pages or so, but I’ve been known to drop a book after a couple of pages. Read what you love, and I promise you’ll start finding all the time you need.
I’m going to second what Amy just said above, with the reinforcement of Sarah’s not getting anywhere followed by reading all the things. People who seem to power through a lot of books at once give themselves access to lots of books at once, which usually means having wide enough tastes to whet the reading appetite. I try to keep a diverse menu around the house, with some mixture of thoughtful, playful, productive, biographical, recommended, popular… live inside the Read Harder challenge, basically. Whatever you focus on reading has an opportunity cost in whatever you’re not reading at that moment, but grow lots of interests and you’ll always look forward to trying another book.
“Not having a life” is a boon, too. I relish the day off that I can spend whittling down a stack to return to the library or delete off my device.
What are some of your favorite ways to read more? Share your tips in a comment below!