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This year I’ve read 75 books so far. (Update: I read a total of 85 books in 2020!) Last year I read 10 books. The year before that I only read 2 books. In this article I share what helped me read more books — a lot more. Read more books with the following 15 tips.
Small goals aren’t exactly exciting. But it’s better to be willing to run once a week than just wanting to run three times a week, but doing nothing. It’s better to do something small than dream of something big and do nothing at all. Small action makes taking action easier than big action. Taking small action is not as daunting as taking big action. The goal is to just start and stay consistent. Once that’s set, then we can slowly increase intensity and increase the goal.
Gradually increase your reading
Steady growth is key for long lasting habits rather than intense and massive action. In 2019 I read 5 times as many books as I read in 2018. This year I’ve read about 7 times as many books as I read in 2019 which is 35 times as many as in 2018.
I didn’t even start the year reading. In 2020 I picked up the book I had stopped reading in September 2019. I read a chapter a night which translated to about 5 pages a night since this book had very short chapters. I didn’t finish the second book this year until April. So in January I finished 0 books and in February I finished 0 books. In March I finished 1 book. I picked up the pace of reading and read 9 books in April.
Build yourself up to incorporate more reading into your life in the long term.
Read what you really want to read
If you’re new to reading, haven’t read for a while, or are in a reading slump, read books that you want to read. Not what you think you should read and not what everyone recommends or tells you you should read. Read what makes you excited, interested, and draws your attention. Yes even if that’s a “trashy” romance or horror novel or a nostalgic young adult fantasy series. This builds the habit of reading by getting you to enjoy reading.
When you enjoy something, you’re more likely to do it and build the habit. This year when I didn’t feel like putting in the mental energy of reading non-fiction for learning, I kept up the habit of reading by immersing myself into fun fiction. Thrillers are my personal favorite.
Track your reading with Goodreads
Tracking helps measure your progress for improvement and it keeps you motivated. I highly recommend using Goodreads to track the books you read. Goodreads also gives it an added social pressure to read. They have yearly reading challenges in which you choose how many books you want to read during the year and track your progress along the way. It gives your habit a competitive edge which can make it more fun and satisfying.
Stay consistent by making a habit
Read every single day. This helps make it a habit. Make it a part of your daily routine. Personally I like to make it my evening routine and read every night before bed. If you’re prone to fall asleep doing this, read in the morning or during the day.
Schedule reading into your calendar. Scheduling it takes the guesswork out of ‘when’ and creates a commitment to the act. Don’t leave it to whenever you feel like it. Set a specific time for it.
Stop trying to read faster
To read more books stop focusing on reading faster. Instead focus on reading more often for longer periods of time. Spend more time reading. Prioritize it and make time for it. If you have time to scroll through social media, you have time to read.
Value learning and reading
Valuing learning and reading gives you a strong why and purpose which increases motivation to read. Make it a part of your job to read. One of the many benefits of reading is that it gives you a professional advantage. You not only keep up, you stay ahead. Most people don’t read. The average CEO reads 60 books a year. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett states that the best investment is books. Look out for your future self by prioritizing reading and learning.
Buy used books
If price and cost is a factor that’s keeping you from reading more books, buy used books. You can get many used books for fairly cheap prices compared to the full retail price, especially more popular and older books. You can check out local used bookstores in your area or you can shop online.
Get a kindle and/or audible subscription
Getting a kindle or audible subscription can also lower the cost of reading more books. If you’re paying for a service, it can also force you to read more to get the value out of it. Just like paying for a gym membership motivates you to go to the gym.
Follow Ramit’s book buying rule
Don’t spend time debating whether you’re going to buy or read a book. You could be spending that time actually reading it. If you’re thinking about it, just take the risk. It’s an investment, a very small one at that. Yet books have the potential to change your life. If you get at least one good idea or lesson out of it, it’s worth it. Keep in mind what goes into writing a book. You’re receiving someone’s best work, knowledge, thoughts, and ideas. It’s a whole process that takes time and energy along with countless revision and editing. And it’s a relatively small financial investment that only takes up a few hours of our time. It’s the ultimate ROI.
Quit books you’re not getting value out of
If you’re not enjoying a book or getting any value out of it, quit it. Stop reading it. Forcing yourself through bad books is a waste of time and can cause a dislike for reading. When you stop reading books that are not worth your time, you read more of the ones that are.
Keep distractions to a minimum and replace screen time with reading time
Instead of mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, open the kindle app or pick up a book. It takes more effort mentally but the rewards are worth it. Books have a much higher ROI than using social media without intent out of habit or boredom. When reading, keep technology out of sight or off, in airplane mode or do not disturb and keep other distractions to a minimum. Focus is key in being a faster reader. In the article Take Control of Your Technology: How to Avoid Phone and Social Media Addiction, I share a guide on how to be proactive with your technology and avoid getting distracted.
Surround yourself with people who read or get involved in reader communities
This also adds a social pressure to your reading habit. Seeing people online excited and passionate about reading or specific books can be contagious and get you excited about reading too. Join (online) book clubs if you can. It can be interesting and fun to discuss books that you’ve read with others too. You also learn and understand the content better. It can open you up to ideas or perspectives you didn’t catch or hadn’t considered.
Make reading fun!
Set up your environment to enjoy the experience of reading. Make your reading more comfortable and enjoyable. Reading has become something I look forward to because I genuinely love and enjoy it. It has become a part of my identity and it’s something I take pride in. Learn to love reading.
Reading can be considered an acquired taste. Reading is not only a habit, it’s a skill. It takes skill, time, and choosing the right books for you.