How I Read 69 Books in 2019 without Changing My Routine
And how you can do it too.
Even though we are (finally) reaching the end of the catastrophic year that is 2020, there is something I want to tell you about 2019.
Yes, 2019, or 1 b.C. (before Corona).
I have never read so many books in a year as I did in 2019. I fell one book short of seventy. I haven’t taken part in any special reading challenge or struggled to squeeze reading time into a tight routine, and I don’t do any form of speed reading (spoiler: I think speed reading fiction is a complete nonsense). It felt so natural to finish this amount of books in this timeframe, I got surprised by the result.
I love to read. It’s one of my favorite activities to pass the time — be it at home or in a waiting room. But this year, I applied some “tricks” that increased the number of works I finished.
These aren’t top-secret techniques, nor do they require any special ability or skill. These are easy steps you can do at home if you wish, like me, to read more books from now on.
If you, too, want to read more books in 2020 and 2021, here are some tips:
Tip #1: Track Your Progress
I believe measurement leads to optimization. That means: if you keep track of something, you get better results at this specific something. You visualize patterns; you notice weaknesses and strengths, and you quickly acknowledge your current progress.
So, keep track of your reading list.
My tip: use Goodreads. It is a social media tailored for readers. There, you can list the books you read so far and get (usually relevant) suggestions based on your activity.
But you can, too, use other social media (like creating a thread on Twitter) for this, or a blog, or even go old school and write the titles you have read so far in a notebook.
Just keep track of the stories you finished.
Believe me: this method alone will propel you to read more books.
Tip #2: Give Audiobooks A Try
Some may look down on audiobooks, or state that this format does not work for them. In fact, many of my friends refuse to add audiobooks to their routines.
“I can’t focus.”
“I get too distracted.”
“They are too expensive.”
“It doesn’t feel like reading.”
Audiobooks — when you listen to them in the right environment — can boost your productivity dramatically. You can experience a Stephen King’s novel when commuting to work, or listen to that biography your friend recommended while waiting for an appointment.
15 of the 69 titles I read in 2019 are audiobooks. This is over 20% of my reading (or listening) list.
You just have to see what works for you. I can’t listen to audiobooks when I am shopping or at home, for example — I get distracted. Some friends do this without problems, but it is not my case.
Also, even though I love Audible, I acknowledge it is expensive. Some audiobooks there are more expensive than hardcover editions.
But you do not have to limit yourself to Audible. Here you can have an excellent overview of what audiobooks are and where you can find them. Did you know, for instance, that you can listen to a wide variety of audiobooks in different languages if you have a Spotify subscription?
So try audiobooks. See what works and what doesn’t for you.
Tip #3: Diversify Your Reading Habits
Reading at meals is considered rude in polite society, but if you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects.
— Stephen King, On Writing.
Do you read at home? Do you read at work? Do you read when waiting for your medical appointment?
Do you stick to hardcovers and paperbacks, or have you already adopted an e-reader like Kindle? Also, what do you think about reading on your cell phone?
Why not try it all — or at least diversify the ways you read?
I listen to audiobooks every morning when I walk to work, and also when I come back. This makes up for at least 40 minutes every day. A “normal-sized” novel (neither a Stephen King’s title nor a thin book) read at average speed encompasses 6 to 12 hours. I finish a novel this way every two or three weeks.
I have the Kindle app downloaded on my cell phone, and this is how I read in my 15-minute breaks at work. It is faster, easier, and (kind of) more socially acceptable than taking out a thick hardcover from my backpack.
At home, I prefer “old-fashioned” books. With a cup of tea, please.
Also, I get motion sickness whenever I read for long periods when I’m traveling by bus or by train. Audiobooks work well here, too.
So this is what I did to read almost seventy books in 2019 – without creating free time out of thin air.
Track your progress.
Diversify your reading methods.
And don’t forget: have fun!