How to Read More Books: 9 Strategies to Kickstart a Love of Reading
I read a lot of books, way more than the average American.
Is it because I have some sort of reading super power?
The real reason, beyond the fact that I genuinely like reading and packing my brain full of info, is that I make a conscious effort to read.
Turns out, I’m not alone. Many of the most successful and famous people in business like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Oprah are big readers and credit their love of books to some of their success.
Most people I know want to read more. The problem is they aren’t quite sure how to get it done in a way that isn’t a massive time suck on an already tight schedule.
In this post, I want to give you a few strategies to help get you reading more. Most of them I use now or have done in the past, some of them I haven’t used but know that they work well for others.
Give ’em a try and see what you works for you.
Strategy #1: Make Time to Read
Make time to read, yes Liz, what wonderful and creative advice, why I’ve never heard that before.
Ok, ok, before you click away, bear with me for a second.
As with any skill or habit you want to build up, you have to be willing to put in the time to practice, reading is the same way.
As cool as it would be for the entire contents of a book to fly into my head while I’m sleeping I actually have to physically still participate in the reading portion of the activity.
So, that means making time to read.
One great way to start with it is to schedule it in your calendar. Don’t go crazy, start with 15 or 20 minutes at night before you go to bed, or first thing in the morning when you wake up.
Taylor Pearson, who is also a huge reader, schedules 60 minutes in the middle of his day to read.
Find a time that works for you and stick to it for a few weeks, eventually it will just be second nature.
Strategy #2: Have Books Everywhere
One thing that works for me is having books around me constantly.
When I’m home, I always have one or two on the nightstand. Back when I had a 9–5 job, I actually would keep a book in my desk and read during my lunch break. I know people who keep a book in the gym bag and read while they are on the treadmill or stationary bike.
With technology, having books around you is easier than ever. I have the Kindle App not only on my iPad, but also my phone, always with a couple of books downloaded and ready to go.
That means when I’m standing in line somewhere (like the airport), or on public transit, or waiting for dinner to finish, I open the app and get a few pages, or even a chapter in.
And, since Kindle’s sync, I don’t have to worry about getting lost, or wasting time trying to find where I left off when I switch devices.
Strategy #3: Go Audio
If you’ve got a commute to your job or co-working space, turn on Audible and listen. When I was commuting to a job, I had co-workers who could plow through 2 or 3 books a month just listening during their commute.
The same goes for the gym, or for travel. I don’t typically listen to many audio books over the course of a year, but when I’m traveling, I almost always fire up my audible account during a long plane or train rides and relax.
The one negative about audio books is they can get expensive. Typically, you can find a good deal running when you join Audible and stack up a few credits that way. You can also check out this nice list of sites that have free audio books, many of them classics from the public domain.
Strategy #4: Gamify and Track
My competitive streak runs deep, and anything that lets me track, test, and challenge myself to level up is always a good thing. It’s one of the reasons why I love apps like Duolingo for language learning.
My book gamification site?
Inside Goodreads I can track every book I read, set goals for yearly challenges, and see if I’m on the right track or falling behind in my reading during the year.
The very first thing I do the second I either start or finish a book is head to Goodreads and enter the info to start tracking.
Strategy #5: Don’t Be Afraid to Quit
I think a lot of people give up on reading or put it to the side because they get bogged down in a book they don’t like. They feel because they bought it, or were assigned it, or someone recommended it, that they have to finish it.
Nope, you don’t have to finish any book you don’t want to.
Life is too short, if you’re reading a book and hate it. Stop reading it. Simple as that.
You might take a look at my Goodreads and see I rate most of my books 4’s and rarely anything below a 3. Why?
Because if a book I’m reading starts feeling like a 1 or 2 star I don’t waste my time or energy reading it any longer, there are too many awesome books out there to enjoy instead.
I generally will give anywhere between 30–100 pages depending on the overall length of the book before I close it and move on (guilt free).
Strategy #6: Ask Friends
It’s highly likely you have a handful of friends who are always reading.
Most of these people are itching for someone to ask them for a book suggestion, and often times, if you’re trying to get more into reading they are great people to turn to.
Since they know you and your personality, they’ll likely have a good handle on the kinds of books you’ll like versus those you don’t.
This is another reason why I think Goodreads is so awesome. One of my favorite features of the site is I can see the books my friends are currently reading, have recently reviewed, or added to their “want to read” lists.
I’ve been able to pick up quite a few new great books by picking through what friends have reviewed. Fellow big reader Karen Marston blogs a monthly list of books she’s read. I’ve been able to add a bunch of books to my list from her quick and dirty recommendations.
A couple of my favorite bloggers also put out reading lists. I love Ryan Holiday’s monthly reading list newsletter.
Strategy #7: Read What You Like
Do you love graphic novels?
What about murder mysteries, or romance novels?
How about books on European economic theory in the 1700s?
Yup, read those too.
I, for one, am a strong proponent of reading what you like. I hate judging people based on the books they’ve read or are reading, I’m much more in favor of more people actually reading.
So if 50 Shades of Gray is what got you into reading more books, I think that’s awesome, and keep reading more books just like it.
The easiest way to get into reading is start with someone you love.
If you’re a baseball fanatic, check out Moneyball after the playoffs. Maybe you love watching Game of Thrones, then take a dive into the first book of the series while you’re waiting for season 7. Maybe you’re obsessed with ballet, there’s tons of books you can read on the topic.
Pick any topic, subject, hobby in the world, and there are books on it. Read those first, and then expand.
You can use the same principle with authors too. If you loved one book, check out the others. Authors like JK Rowling, Tom Clancy, and Stephen King have tons of titles (with more coming in some cases) for you to dive into.
Strategy #8: Chunkify
I guess you could also say serialize, but who doesn’t like making up their own words?
Here’s what I mean by that, break down a book into easy to digest chunks. So find tools that make it really easy for you.
James Clear reads just 20 pages every morning, that’s a really manageable amount, and sets him up to read about 30 books a year.
Moby Dick is an American classic, but it’s also over 700 pages long. That puts a lot of people off from the jump. So, break it down instead, check out the Moby Dick Big Read, where authors and actors read the book out loud in 5 to 30 minute chunks.
One app I’m loving for this is called Serial Reader. I’ve got it on my phone and iPad and it’s hundreds of free classics on there ready to be read. Since I’ve always wanted to read more classics, but find myself put off by the length, I thought this could be perfect.
Every morning at 8 am, Serial Reader sends me an “issue” of my current book. They have all been between 6 and 20 minutes long and it’s an awesome way to start my day. Right now I’m reading Anna Karenina which checks in at 864 pages (!) but since I’m reading issue by issue, I never even think about the length.
Strategy #9: Join a Book Club
I know the concept of a book club immediately brings to mind the image of a bunch of 50 year old soccer moms with their Oprah’s Book Club of the month selections.
Well, guess what?
Soccer moms read a lot of books each year while working and raising a family, so if they can do it, you can too.
I’ve been in a few book clubs. When I was at a 9–5 we did have one (that was exactly as you would picture, me plus all the soccer moms) I really enjoyed. I was in another book club with a group of ladies (this time my own age) and we’d meet on a weeknight, crack open the wine and beer and chat about books over pizza and snacks.
It’s great to be able to chat about the books you read with others, and having dedicated monthly meetings also helps keep you on track.
Now, there’s all sorts of book clubs out there both in person and online for pretty much any gender, topic, or level.
Don’t look now, but book clubs might just be cool again.
The Most Important Thing?
Pick up a book and read a page. If you do that on a consistent basis, everything else is going to take care of itself.