As New Year’s Eve approaches, many people are thinking about their goals and resolutions for 2020. Reading more books is one of the most common resolutions. Maybe you didn’t read as many books as you wanted to this year. Maybe your TBR is getting out of control. Or maybe you read a lot this year, but want to do even better next year. Regardless, these tips to read more books will help you meet your reading goals in 2020.
I read over 150 books per year, and when I share this number with friends and family, they’re often shocked. One even asked, “Do you have more than 24 hours in a day? How do you do that?” I can assure you: If you want to read more books, you can do it. It just takes a little commitment and, well, more reading.
The tips below will help you find ways to fit more reading into your schedule, prevent burnout, and reach your goals. Keep in mind that not everything works for everyone. Find inspiration in this list, but you don’t have to take all of the advice listed here to read more books. Remember that reading should be fun and interesting, not torture. That said, I hope this list helps you fulfill your reading dreams.
The best way to consistently read more is to intentionally dedicate more time to reading. Seems easy, right? The best way to make sure you keep your reading resolution through the whole year is to integrate reading time into your regular routine. Wake up a little earlier each day and read while you drink your coffee, dedicate the half hour before bedtime to reading, or spend your lunch breaks with a book. As you make reading a regular part of your schedule, it will become an ingrained habit.
There are only so many hours in the day, right? But if you learn to double task, you double your hours. Read a book while you’re doing something else that doesn’t require your full attention. I like to read or listen to books while working out, cooking, cleaning, and even walking. Just save the really complex books for when you can give them your undivided attention.
When you have a book, you’ll never get bored. You’d be surprised how many moments in your day can be filled with reading if you have a book handy. Waiting for the bus, in line at the grocery, at the doctor’s office, even in a long elevator ride—all are perfect opportunities to squeeze in a few more pages. If you don’t like carrying around a physical book, I highly recommend carrying an ereader or having a reading app downloaded on your phone.
It’s much easier to read more books when you set a reading goal. With a goal in mind, you can stay motivated and make sure you’re staying on track to reach it. The Goodreads Reading Challenge is an excellent way to track your goal, as it can tell you how you’re doing and help you stay on schedule. But make sure the goal you set is attainable; it will only discourage you if you set a goal you aren’t able to reasonably reach.
LISTENING TO AUDIOBOOKS IS NOT CHEATING. We all learn and retain information in different ways, and audiobooks are one of many ways to enjoy a good book. Audiobooks are amazing when it comes to multitasking. You can listen to an audiobook while driving, exercising, walking, and so much more. Plus it’s a great way to avoid eye fatigue when you’ve been reading a lot of print or ebooks. If you’re new to audiobooks or don’t know if they can work for you, I recommend starting with a memoir by a celebrity author you admire, like We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union. Alternatively, try a collection of essays or short stories that can be listened to in shorter bursts, like We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby.
A common enemy of reading goals is the book hangover, or when you finish a great book and can’t find the willpower to move on to the next one. For me, the best way to keep up my reading pace and avoid book hangovers is to constantly change up the genre I’m reading. Just finished an amazing sci-fi series? Follow it up with true crime! Can’t get over the last romance novel you read? Try a funny memoir next! It keeps you on your toes. Even better, it helps you avoid direct comparisons between books in the same genre AND eliminates confusion between similar plot lines or characters.
Book clubs are a great way to hold yourself accountable to your reading goal. First, scheduled book club meetings encourage you to finish a book by a certain date. Second, the social aspect of book clubs is a great way to feel more engaged in your reading and to discuss your thoughts with others. Third, books selected by a book club relieve some of the “what do I read next?” pressure that can keep you from picking up your next book. If you commit to a monthly book club, that’s 12 books toward your annual reading goal!
I’m a big advocate for reading outside of your comfort zone. Books are all about new experiences and new worlds, so why not embrace all that the bookish world has to offer? Try reading comics and graphic memoirs, like Rep. John Lewis’s March series. Dive into some poetry or novels in verse, like Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X. Check out a book that lets you choose your own path, like Robin Ryle’s She/He/They/Me. You may discover your new favorite thing, and it will definitely shake up your reading life.
No matter how much you’re enjoying a book, sometimes you’re just not in the mood to read it. And with an ambitious reading goal, that can hold you back. That’s why reading multiple books at once can keep you moving forward. There are many tips for reading several books at once, but the most important for me is making sure each book is very different in genre and/or style. It’s easy to keep the plot in your historical mystery novel separate from the plot in your contemporary romance novel, and to keep both of those out of your nonfiction book on politics. It also helps ensure you have a book for every mood, so you have no excuse to skip your allocated reading time that day.
A reading tracker is the perfect way to keep track of your book goal, and it can be useful for analyzing your reading style. I personally love Book Riot’s digital reading tracker and Read Harder journal, but there are plenty of reading tracker options. Find one that works for you to help you stay on track with your goal. You may even see patterns in your reading habits that will help you read more books throughout the year.
Accountability partners are often recommended for keeping your New Year’s Resolutions, and reading is no different. It’s helpful to have someone on your side, and even better if you can read some books together. Discussing what you’re reading with a friend can give you encouragement to read through to the end. And based on your discussion, your bookish buddy may have more recommendations for books you’d enjoy. It’s a win-win!
Having a comfortable reading space where you like to spend time can help you read more books. Create a special space in your home with a comfy chair, good lighting, and everything you like to have within reach while reading. It will make your reading time less of a chore and more of an opportunity to relax and dive into a good book. Find ideas for your perfect reading nook here.
Catch up to your reading goal with camaraderie by participating in a readathon. Many bloggers and Bookstagrammers hold readathons throughout the year, where participants dedicate themselves to reading for a set period. Some readathons even come with a theme or book recommendations. If you’re new to readathons, I recommend starting with Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. It’s a great way to build excitement and read as part of the bookish community.
It’s important to know your limits and avoid burnout. Don’t push yourself to read so much that you end up with a headache, eye strain, or mentally exhausted. This is especially important while reading something that takes a lot of concentration and focus. Take breaks after so many pages or chapters to take a walk, have a snack, or watch an episode of your favorite TV show. Don’t feel guilty if you need to take a day away from reading. Remember, your reading goal is a marathon, not a sprint.
Being a book lover can be EXPENSIVE. And while it’s wonderful to support authors by buying their books, buying enough books to meet your reading goal adds up. Luckily, there are many ways to get books without breaking the bank. Take advantage of all your local library has to offer, including ebooks and audiobooks. Find a Little Free Library near you to exchange an old book for one you haven’t read. Set up a book swap with friends, or check out a local used bookstore. Your budget will thank you.
Forcing yourself to finish a book you hate is no way to reach your reading goals. Sticking with books you’re not enjoying will take all of the fun out of your reading time and will slow down your progress. The key is to call it quits early and without shame. If you’re not feeling a book by 20–30 pages in, declare a DNF (did not finish) and move on to something that brings you joy. Life is too short to read books you hate.
Do you have any bad habits you’re trying to kick with your New Year’s Resolutions? Reading can fill the gaps of things you’re trying to cut out of your life. Maybe you want to spend less time on social media, cut back on TV time, or stop smoking. All of that time can be reclaimed to reach your reading goals! Next time you’re tempted to get lost in Twitter, set a five minute timer for scrolling and then spend the rest of the time you would have spent reading instead.
It’s easy to get frustrated with a book that’s repetitive or overly detailed, and that can make you lose sight of the finish line. There’s nothing wrong with a little educated skimming, especially if it can help you get back into the book down the road. I wrote a whole guide to speed-reading, but the major takeaway is to read the beginning and end of each chapter, section, and paragraph. That way, you’ll still catch the major takeaways without getting bogged down in the details. But if you catch yourself skimming the whole book and not enjoying any of it, you might want to DNF.
My absolute favorite time to read is while traveling. Trains, planes, and buses provide time and space to read, and diving into a good book can make your travel time go by faster. Next time you’re flying, ignore the in-flight movie selections and opt for a book. Pack multiple books to allow for any reading mood, or make sure your ereader is pre-loaded with exciting options. And if you’re behind the wheel on a road trip, try listening to an audiobook.
Making time to read more books is a lot easier when you love the books you’re reading. But researching new books can eat up a lot of your reading time. Ask friends for book recommendations, or talk to a local librarian or bookseller. I get many of my best book recommendations here on Book Riot. You can also use a book subscription service, like Book Riot’s own TBR service. Tell your TBR bibliologist what kind of books you like and receive personalized recommendations you’re sure to love.
I hope these tips will help you reach your reading goals in 2020! Looking for more ways to read more books? Check out these other ideas from Book Riot: