So many books, so little time. If only we had more hours in the day to get through our never ending pile of books we want to read!
Reading is one of the most important things in my life, but I realized recently I wasn’t reading near enough books. I set out to figure out how to increase the amount of books I read and came up with the following 9 tips to help you burn through books!
In January of this year, I read 4 books. In February, I read 7. So far for March I’ve read 10 and we still have a week left. This ongoing increase is all thanks to the following steps!
Just a heads up, this post contains affiliate links—that means I get a small commission of any sales made from the links below, but the price is the same for you whether you purchase via my link or directly from Amazon 🙂
1. Set reading goals
The #1 way to up your books read is to first set a yearly reading goal.
After that, break it down and figure out how many books that means you need to read per month.
Once you have your monthly goal, divide that by 30 to see how many days you have to finish a book.
Then finally, each time you start a new book, divide the total pages but alloted number of reading days to see how many pages you need to get through per day.
I know this sounds intense, but it’s actually pretty easy and fun to do. And once you see how many pages a day you need to read in order to meet your goal, you’ll find it will be easy to read those pages most days. I can speak from personal experience that once I saw how many pages per day to get through, my motivation increased because it was a much lower number than I thought.
You can do this whether you have a set TBR (to be read) list or you’re a mood reader and like to pick your current read in the moment. I love the beginning of the month because I can totally nerd out on figuring out my daily page counts and write them in my planner.
For an example, here’s my 2019 reading goal broken down:
- 2019 reading goal: 110 books
- That breaks down to 9 books a month.
- That means I have about 3 days to get through a book.
- Let’s say the average book is 350 pages. That means I need to read 116 pages a day.
I create a TBR list at the beginning of each month with the exact books I want to read. I then go through all of them and figure out my daily page count. I map it out on my calendar and when I’ve met that page count, I cross out that day. It’s really helpful to write it down and look at it daily because I can see if I’m ahead, right on track, or behind and then adjust my reading schedule accordingly.
2. Schedule reading time and protect it
The above process only works if you schedule guaranteed reading time. I used to be really laissez-faire about my reading. Every day I’d intend to read for an hour before bed, but of course all my other daily tasks would creep in and I’d be left with just a few minutes of reading time each day. When I realized how little time I was actually spending on reading, I changed my method!
Now I’m really strict about my daily reading hour. It’s a priority and I treat it as such—I don’t let other to-dos take over that time; I even keep an alarm set for when I my reading hour starts. Every second I delay getting to my book is precious reading time lost.
If you’re serious about reading more books, it truly comes down to the amount of time you invest in it. Schedule a specific reading time each day and protect it.
3. Only read what you’re excited about
This was another thing that really changed my reading life for the better. I used to try to make myself read non-fiction books that sounded sexy in theory, but were pretty dull in reality.
J.K. Rowling says that if you don’t love reading, you just haven’t found the right book.
When you’re reading a book you’re really excited about, you won’t even have to think about honoring your reading time—you’ll be elated to dive into your book! In fact, you’ll probably be putting other things to the side to get back to your book.
Life is way too short to read books you aren’t crazy about.
Don’t read books just because you feel like you should. Read books simply because you love them. Do you secretly love chick lit or plot-driven adventure books? Great! Read more of those! Do you love YA or fantasy? Amazing! Read those too! Reading is an experience just for you—read for YOU and you alone.
Also, it’s okay to not finish a book. It really is! If it feels like a chore to pick it up, time to toss it (not literally, of course!).
The more you find out what type of books you really love, the more you’ll evolve as a reader.
And, if you’re a writer too, only reading books you’re crazy about will help you to really flourish as a writer.
4. Join a reading challenge
This is a cool way to find some outside accountability and to keep track of what you’ve read.
I personally love the Goodreads Reading Challenge. After you create an account (it’s free!), you can enter your reading goal for the year. Each time you mark a book as “read”, it will update your progress.
It’s a great way to make sure you’re on track and also a cool way to revisit the books you’ve read so far.
5. Join #Bookstagram
#Bookstagram is a small corner of Instagram that’s devoted to books!
There are all kinds of readers on #Bookstagram, from those who receive advanced copies of new releases to those who only read obscure used bookstore finds.
#Bookstagram is amazing for finding new books to read, staying motivated in your reading goals, connecting with other readers, and posting books to your feed as a visual reading log.
I highly recommend joining #Bookstagram. It’s a really fun, welcoming, and inspiring community. Plus if you’re a writer, it’s a great place to build your author platform.
6. Join a Book Club or Partake in a Buddy Read
When you find friends with similar reading interests, it makes reading even more fun than it already is!
Whether you find an in-person or virtual book club or if you just find a friend or #Bookstagram buddy, reading a book as a group adds another level to the joy of reading, plus it helps you stay accountable and meet your reading goals.
7. Supplement with Audiobooks
Not all books serve well as audiobooks, but for those that do, listen and read at the same time!
I love to listen to audiobooks during walks, in the car, or while doing chores.
Scribd is a good place to find audiobooks. For a minimal monthly payment, you can enjoy multiple audiobooks in a month.
Audible is also another great place to find audiobooks—they have almost every book you can imagine! It’s my favorite way to get audiobooks because they let you return a book if you aren’t crazy about it, no questions asked. And, you can get a 30-day free trial. Sign up here using my free trial link!
I also take advantage of my public library to find audiobooks. They have digital audiobooks available via an app and they also have physical audiobooks in CD format. I just burn the CDs to my iTunes account and then listen through my phone. That’s fine to do as long as you aren’t selling the copied files for personal gain.
Another way to avoid paying for both a physical book and an audiobook is to check out the physical book from the library and listen to the audiobook via Scribd or Audible.
8. Increase your reading speed
Reading can be frustrating when you devote a lot of time to it, but aren’t making a ton of progress on your page counts.
It used to take me forever to get through just one book, so I did some research about how to read faster. I found some techniques that helped me to not just read faster, but increase my comprehension as well.
The best way to become a faster reader is to cut out some bad reading habits you probably didn’t even know you had.
These are my top 3 tips to greatly increase your reading speed:
This increases your reading speed in two ways—
The first is because we get good at what we practice. The more you practice reading, the better you’ll get at it. Without any thought or effort, the simple act of reading every day will make you a faster reader.
The second is that you won’t have to spend valuable reading time trying to remember where you left off in the book.
If I don’t read a book daily until I finish it, I’ll forget where I left off and have to spend time thinking about the prior events in the story.
Reading daily lets you just pick up the book where you left off and take off into the next part, thus helping you read it much faster!
–Cut out the little voice in your head that’s distracting you.
Have you ever been reading when suddenly you realize you have no idea what the last few paragraphs or pages even said because you were dazing off? That’s because there’s a little voice in your head distracting you.
Amazing readers are essentially amazing meditators. Meditation doesn’t mean you’re thinking about nothing, it means you’re actively keeping your thoughts on one specific thing.
To keep your mind directed on your reading, start by trying to increase to vividness of the images of the story. Keep your mind focused on these images. When you notice the images have gone away, gently bring your thinking back to the story and back to the images. The more you do this—notice when the story images have disappeared and bring them right back up—the less your mind will trail off.
Without all the frequent stops to get back on track, you’ll blow through books.
–Retrain your eye muscles.
This is a new habit that’s strange at first, but it gets a lot easier with practice. When we read, we naturally move our eyes from the very beginning of the line to the very end. This back and forth movement of our eyeballs is actually not a fluid one—our eyes stop about 3-4 times during each line to focus on a specific group of words.
Instead of the steady sweeping movement it seems like, our eyes are really stopping, starting, stopping, starting. Each stop and start motion takes a second or two, which adds up over the course of a book.
To cut out of a few of these stop and start motions, start 2 inches in from the far left of the line and stop 2 inches in from the far right of the line. Your peripheral vision will still take in the words of each line, but only focusing your gaze in the center of the lines will make your physical eye movements fluid instead of staccato. This will greatly increase your reading speed. This is really uncomfortable when you first start practicing it, just like if you beginning weight training for the first time. The more you practice, the stronger your eye muscles will get and the easier and more natural it will become.
If you pair this with cutting out the voice in your head, your reading speed and your reading comprehension will both be through the roof.
9. Determine if you do better with a TBR list or mood reading
There are two types of readers—those who have a predetermined list of books they choose for each month and those that pick their current read in the moment.
If you’ve been trying to stick to a TBR list but are feeling too confined, maybe you’re actually a mood reader.
Or if you’ve been just choosing your next read in the moment but find you don’t start a new book as quickly as you’d like because you can’t decide, try creating a TBR list at the beginning of the month.
Do you have any other tips to read more books? Leave them in the comments below!