How To

How I Read 100 Books in One Year (and How You Can, Too)

Mya Nunnally

Staff Writer

Having loved books since the age of four, Mya is a writer and poet who looks to explore the complexities of life through language. They attend Barnard College of Columbia University with their kitten, Ramen. Their reviews of independent literature can be found at Foreword Reviews. When they aren't writing or reading, they're playing video games with strong female characters. Twitter: @literallymya Blog:

As of today, I’ve read 100 books since January 1st. It’s a goal I’ve been able to reach for the past few years despite being a full-time student and a part-time worker. How did I manage it, you ask?

Get Off Your Phone

I got this app called uBhind for Android just to check how often I was on my phone. I felt like my smartphone addiction was pretty mild compared to some of my friends whose faces I only see in the bask of that blue smartphone screen light. Yet, when a week went by and I checked my statistics, I became nauseous. It said that I spent about 3 hours a day on my phone, totaling to 24 hours a week.

That’s a whole day from my week. Gone.

Immediately I decided to cut back, uninstalling Facebook and Twitter apps and offering myself rewards when my daily usage was under an hour. As my phone time lessened, my reading time grew and grew. Last year, it took me until late December to get to 100 books. This year, it’s barely November. A good chunk of this is due to me avoiding the temptation of endless scrolling through feeds.

Never be without a book

A lot of reading that I got done happened while I was waiting for my classes to start, or on the subway, or in the commercial breaks during The Good Wife. The moments when you have nothing to do add up throughout your day. If you always carry a book with you, you’ll find yourself sneaking a few pages here and there until you’ve read a quarter of the thing by the end of the day.

Never read something you don’t want to

It feels unnatural to stop a book before you finish it, I know. It hurts to return it to the library unread. Or even worse, to let it sit on your shelf, knowing you’ll never make it through.

But you have to.

Life is incredibly short, and the amount of books in the world is vast. Every minute you spend with a book that you’re trudging through is one you could spend reading something you actually love! But besides that, books you hate will take twice (or perhaps, even thrice) the amount of time to get through. Books that pull you in will get to your goal much faster.

Track your progress

For me at least, seeing my progress on some sort of tracker or counter gives me a motivational high. I use Goodreads to track my challenge, and most of my friends participate, too, leading to playful competition that can add to your motivation as well.

Read multiple books at once

I know, blasphemy! But it’s true. (Here’s a fellow Rioter’s post on how to read multiple books and not lose your mind.) It may sound like a word problem from math class—If Sally reads two books at once for 4 hours, how little will she remember the plot of each?—but it truly works. And…it helps you avoid getting tired of reading one book straight through.

In fact, I have a specific system for reading many books at once. Nearly all of my books come from two places. 1) The New York Public Library, one of the great blessings in this world, and 2) ebooks under 3 dollars on Amazon. So, since I seemed to have a bunch of physical books and ebooks at once, I always read one physical and one ebook at a time.

During the day, I carry my library copies around to class, enjoying the feel of paper in my hands. At nighttime, I can lie on my side and read from my Kindle, loving that my 800 page fantasy novel weighs as much as a chapbook.

Genre hop

Sometimes, I get tired of science fiction, though it’s beyond a doubt my favorite genre. I just sit there and think, “Do I really want to read another space opera where the rebels band together to take down the evil imperialist force?” And usually, the answer is yes. But there are days when I can’t take it anymore.

So in order to prevent any kind of reader’s block, I shift around my genres here and there. Poetry books are great for a quick read to get you back into the mood for literature. Graphic novels give the mind a break from blocks of text and are a diverse, expanding genre. Young adult novels are fantastic for solid, page-turning fiction. You just know whatever YA dystopia you pick up is at least going to have a dope love triangle and a strong female character.

Don’t do it for the bragging rights

The first time I tried to reach 100 books, I did it because I had just gotten into a college where everyone else around me was also really intellectual and read lots of books, too. And I wanted to prove something to myself.

This lead to me rushing through novels I should have taken the time to enjoy. All I could think of was getting to the next page, to the next chapter, to the next book, not about what I was reading and how much I loved literature.

Now, I’ve gotten past that. My goal is for me to remind myself to make books a priority for myself and my life. It reminds me if I want to achieve something, I can.

What about you?

Okay, okay, enough with the cliches about reaching your goals. I know. Let’s hear from you, instead. What is your goal this year and how will you reach it?