As I’ve said before, one of the most commented on aspects of my blog is my reading habit.
And although I’ve answered this in various forms before, based on the number of times I still get asked — “How on earth do you read 200 books a year?!” — it’s high time to answer it again.
So, here’s how I do it:
1. I break my annual goal into monthly averages.
You don’t hit a big goal by doing it all at once. You’ve just got to break it down. To read 200 books a year (here’s last year’s list of what I read), I need to read 4 books a week, or, 16 books a month. If I stick to this average, I’ve got my annual goal covered. Some months I won’t hit this, but some (like months when I go on vacation for a week and read constantly), I will exceed this.
2. I know how long my goal will take.
I know that I read about 200 words a minute, give or take. Business or health books that require highlighting or note-taking can be slower, and the rare novel can be quicker. If an average book is 50,000 words, I can read one book in a little over fours. So I need 16+ hours a week to read 4 books.
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3. I read multiple books at once.
By reading multiple books at once (my Kindle enables me to do this easily, as I share in this article on how my Kindle has changed my reading habits), I never get bored one book, and always can switch back and forth to whatever is best in a given situation. If I have 5 minutes waiting in line, it’s easier for me to read a memoir or novel than get through another page in a health or business book, for example. If I’m reading in bed late at night, I prefer non-fiction to help me fall asleep. I choose different types of books at different occasions, and I always have a book that will work in a given scenario.
4. Audiobooks are an essential part of my arsenal.
I “read” at least 6–8 of those 16 weekly reading hours via audiobook, and at times in my life when I have had long commutes have “read” a heck of a lot more via audiobook. These days, I have an audiobook going when I exercise, commute, get ready in the morning, do chores, or am doing anything else wherein an audiobook could be great background multi-tasker. I set it on a speed slightly higher than regular talking in order for it to not be so slow (at a normal speed, an audiobook takes me longer to read than regular reading). If you haven’t yet enjoyed the joy of audiobooks, try signing up for a FREE 30-day subscription to Audible.com and you’ll be able to download one free book;)
5. I choose reading over other things.
Taking away the audiobook time, I still need to find 8–10 hours a week to read. For me, this is about as easy as eating an entire carton of Ben and Jerry’s while watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (read: EASY). Why? Because I love reading that much. I will readily turn down a dinner invitation to read in my pajamas in bed. It’s just what I love to do. And so, by that logic, it means that I choose reading over other things. My husband and I don’t keep a full social calendar. I don’t eat out with coworkers every night. I don’t have multiple small children in the house that need my attention (although that’s definitely not by choice!).
Ultimately, reading 200 books a year is not a superhuman feat. It’s a pleasurable activity I engage in that really doesn’t “take” me much time at all when you break it down.
If you’re not a huge reader, you’re likely doing something else 8–10 hours a week that I’m not doing.
So what is it? What do you do 8–10 hours a week that you love? Play golf? Watch football? Eat out with friends? Does it feel hard to make the time, or does it come naturally when you love it?