6 tips on reading more books next year

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
― Stephen King

Last year I’ve read 19 books, this year I over-achieved the goal of 30. To some people this may sound like an achievement, to some — like a laughable thing not even worth mentioning in a casual conversation. To me it was a journey and a foundation to a good reading rhythm. Here are a few thoughts and tips that helped me get there.

Start big

You don’t need to horse-blinker yourself by laser-focusing on just one book for the sake of finishing it faster. By all means, go ahead if it works for you. I would usually be reading 2–3 books at a time, switching between them depending on the day. Plus another 3 audiobooks books in rotation when running (“Harry Potter” narrated by Stephen Fry* for long runs as a reward, “You’re Never Weird on the Internet” by Felicia Day for shorter runs as an amusing distraction). Just as an example. Use your time and squeeze in reading where you can.

Tip 1: check out books narrated by their authors (like “Yes, Please” by Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic” or the above mentioned “You’re Never Weird on the Internet”). I get mine on Audible (all links below).

Measure

Track your reading progress, this can be demotivating at first, but do remember, even 30 minutes a day will get you to a book read in 1–2 weeks. I tracked mine on Goodreads. Some people use their Amazon purchase history for this.

Tip 2: commit to a reading challenge — this was the last motivation on the list of possible motivations to not drop out of the reading routine, but it worked! I first set the goal to a very realistic 30 books a year, then overdid it and read 35. Next year it’s 50. At least. Almost one book a week. Phew, 2016, here we go. Where are my reading glasses?

Don’t get stuck

You can get stuck, or have started a few books at once but can’t seem to finish any of them, or you suddenly realised you haven’t held a book in a long while and where is that Kindle anyway? I think the key to reading consistently is… consistency! So dedicate daily/weekly reading time slots. Book them in your busy calendars if you need to.

Tip 3: try to pick books that are interesting to you and let go of any fear of judgement. Honestly, who cares? Read what you like. Then read something you need to read that might not necessarily enjoy enormously but it’s good for your, say, career growth. Then read another thriller. If all fails and you’re stuck, try overcoming reader’s stutter by reading “Harry Potter” to keep the reading ball rolling (attn: pun intended and meant purely for bookworms).

Speed up

Read faster. Improve your reading skills — there are many methods & courses on speed reading, most of them can be summed up to a few tips:

  • read with a pen/finger/book dart and move it faster than your regular reading speed. Your eyes will follow and you’ll read faster. Do this for a month — result guaranteed;
  • scan the table of contents before starting the book, then skim through the first and last paragraphs of each chapter — this will give you a good overview of the structure. Please don’t do that for detective stories, this tip works well for non-fiction literature only;
  • for airy-watery self-help it also helps (ahahahha) to read with a notebook and write down the main ideas of the book, quotes, further reading and links. Then summarise it to a friend. I did that for “Defining decade” and “Lean In” and we quite enjoyed an impromptu book club over coffee a few weekends in a row. As a bonus you get to really memorise what the book is about.

On quitting

It’s ok to leave a book aside — you don’t have to finish it if you absolutely hate it — your time is precious, why waste it on books you don’t like?

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking”
– Haruki Murakami

This especially relates to those guilty attempts to “read the books you should have read in school”. Read what’s relevant to you today, based on your flow (see tip 3). Don’t just sit there guilty for you can’t overcome the first pages of “Idiot”. Read something else, your book will find you. Most importantly, just keep on reading.

“Classic’ — a book which people praise and don’t read.”
― Mark Twain

*Books mentioned in this post (hidden bonus — all books are written by women)

  • “Harry Potter” narrated by Stephen Fry [link]
  • “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)” by Felicia Day [link]
  • “Yes, Please” by Amy Poehler [link]
  • “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert [link]
  • “Defining decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now” by Meg Jay [link]
  • “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” by Sheryl Sandberg [link]

Further reading. Literally

  • “How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading” by Mortimer J. Adler, Charles Van Doren [link]
  • “This is Not the End of the Book” by Umberto Eco, Jean-Claude Carrière [link]