How I Read 50 Books a Year
While Keeping My Child Alive
Reading is one of the habits of highly successful people. The benefits of reading are evident: gaining new knowledge, reducing stress levels up to 68%, improving memory, developing the verbal ability, improving focus and concentration, and boosting your imagination and creativity. As Dr., Seuss said:
“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
However, it can be difficult to make time for reading when you have a busy life and non-stop schedule. In 2013, I managed to read 74 books while working, raising a daughter, and juggling all of my busy life’s responsibilities. It wasn’t a miracle, and it was not difficult. Reading is a priority to me, and I make sure to set aside time each day to do it.
So many of my friends express a desire to read more but have no idea where to start. Here are five tips to help:
1 Set a reading goal: Each year I set a Reading Challenge on Goodreads.com. I am not normally a New Year’s Resolution type but setting a goal has helped me immensely. I started my first reading challenge in 2013 and have summarily crushed all my goals since then. Completing a goal gives me a sense of accomplishment. Goodreads is a great resource for charting which books I have read and which books I would like to read in the future. It helps me visualize and actualize my goal. You set the number of books you want to read for the year and log your progress. I pick my number based on how busy I think that year will be for me. Among American adults, the median number of books read last year was only six so aiming higher than that is a great place to start.
2 Read before bed: After I put my daughter to sleep and finish any leftover tasks, I love lying in bed with a good book and many successful people practice this same ritual each night. Bill Gates spends an hour a night reading. Mark Cuban reads more than 3 hours a day. When asked about the key to success, Warren Buffet pointed to a stack of nearby books and said,
“Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
Prove Warren Buffett wrong and do it! Cozy up with a good book each night and enjoy some quiet time, unwinding from another busy day.
3 Make the most of your commute: If you take public transportation to work, you can easily crack open your book on the bus or subway. Don’t leave home without some reading material. Skip click-bait articles and become immersed in the deeper experience of reading a book. Even if you drive to work, there are millions of books on tape. Our local library has an easy way to put in a request, notifies you when the book/CD/etc. is ready, and I can just run in and pick it up from behind the counter. My sister has a gruesome nearly two-hour drive to work each day and makes the most of it by listening to lots and lots of books on tape. It really helps to pass the time! (For any naysayers who say audiobooks “don’t count” — just ask them how many books they have read this year.)
4 Read on your devices: I know, I know- nothing will replace a physical book to me. I love the way they feel in hand, I love the way they smell, I love the way they look. However, years ago, I outgrew my book budget — buying 45 books, a year was a no-go. Our bank account could not support my reading habits. I spent a year taking full advantage of my local library. All along, my husband offered to get me an e-reader and told me he could get me books easily and instantly. I kept brushing him off and defending my “physical books are better” stance. However, after a while, I grew tired of waiting two weeks for a book to come in at the library and driving there each week became a little annoying. Now my digital library is synced across all my devices. I can read on my tablet or my phone. I even read using my cell phone when I nursed my daughter, usually reading aloud to her. Bonus: Most of the books also have an option to “Read Aloud” which is great to continue a book while I am driving in the car or grocery shopping.
(Some people find the automated voice to be “annoying.” I find it hilarious that the voice that read Tina Fey’s book to me also read Norwegian Wood and Rosemary’s Baby.)
5 Make it fun: Read what you enjoy! Don’t feel obligated to work your way through the Bestsellers List or the Ultimate Works of Classic Literature. Read what interests you. Ask your bibliophile friends for suggestions they feel like you would enjoy. Finding the genre(s) of books you enjoy will make reading easier and more fun. Join a book club! Read with a friend! It does not have to be a private experience — make it social. I love stalking my friends on Goodreads, keeping track of things they enjoy, and filing them away on my ever-growing Want to Read shelf.
I have had my nose in a book since I learned how to read. My mother was also an avid reader, and I believe that her example helped me develop my love for reading. I hope that my daughter will be inspired to do the same in the future. In high school, I was a bookworm, reading while I walked to each class and often having my books confiscated. Reading is my lifelong passion. By following the tips above, I have made reading an integral part of my life, and I hope these tips will help you read more and more often. Most of all, I hope that reading enriches your life as much as it does mine.