Here's How I Read Over 200 Books in 3 Years
How to read more books
In 2016, I read 100 books. I also graduated with an MBA, found my first full-time job, moved 300 miles from home, started that full-time job, and oh yeah—got married. In 2017, I slowed down a bit and read 60 books. In 2018, I read 50. This year, I’m aiming for somewhere between 100 and 120.
People ask me all the time how I manage to read so many books, and my answer is always the same: it’s practically all I do. But that’s not very helpful on its own. So without further ado, here’s my best advice to help you squeeze more books into your own life.
1. Start small.
I’ve always loved to read, but I haven’t always read so voraciously. That was born out of a new year’s resolution to read one chapter of a book every day. Once I got started, though, I couldn’t stop. My “to-be-read” (TBR) pile grew faster and faster, and before I knew it, I was ripping through books just so I could get to the next one. That same momentum continues to carry me through my ever-growing and unmanageable TBR pile today.
2. Set a goal.
Developing any habit requires intention, and reading is no different, so give your intention a number. It doesn’t have to be big; maybe you want to read 12 books a year. That’s one book a month, and you can totally do that. Plus, if you keep track, every book you finish will feel like a victory, like a check mark on your list of accomplishments.
My favorite way to track the books I’ve read (and the books I want to read next!) is Goodreads. It’s a kind of social network for people who read books. Among its many delightful features is the ability to set an annual reading goal and track of your progress. (If you join, let’s be friends!)
3. Never get caught without a book.
Once you start looking for more opportunities to read throughout the day, you’ll notice that they pop up everywhere. Maybe you ride a train to work. Maybe you get somewhere early—a doctor’s appointment, a class, coffee with a friend—and have a few minutes to wait. Or maybe you plop down on the couch while dinner is cooking. You could open Facebook or Instagram again (I’m absolutely guilty of this, too), or you could squeeze in a few pages of reading.
I know it’s not always practical to carry a book with you every time you leave the house, though, so…
4. Use different formats.
Believe, me, there’s nothing like a real, physical book. But ebooks are not the enemy! My Kindle is lighter than a book and takes up less space in my bag. I can even fit it in a small satchel purse for the days I go on adventures in NYC. (I have to have a book for the train ride, duh!) It also lets me bring more books with me at once, which is especially handy when I’m traveling out of town for several days. (God forbid I finish a book and don’t have another one with me to start next!) And if I really need to travel light, I can always rely on the Kindle app on my phone. So with ebooks, no matter what, I always have something to read.
But my secret weapon? Audiobooks. Many people have told me that audiobooks don’t work for them, but don’t be so quick to decide. The trick is to listen while you’re doing something else—something that requires only a small amount of attention to keep your hands busy. I listen while I drive, cook, shower, walk, commute, crochet (fun fact, I’m actually 90 years old). You get the idea. I’m also prone to motion sickness if I try to read in the car, so audiobooks allow me to put long drives to good use.
5. Find what works for you.
I have a good reading rhythm, but it took me some trial and error to find it. For example, I almost always have two books going at once. They’re usually one fiction and one non-fiction, and often one is print and one is electronic (and/or audiobook).
I also do something kind of weird: I read while I run on the treadmill. (Yes, that look you’re giving me is exactly the same look everyone gives me.) It sounds crazy, but the trick is to use an e-reader and bump up the font size. That way, you can bop around a little bit and not have to squint at small font. It’s just like looking at a TV screen—a screen you have to tap every once in a while to turn the page.
Those things work for me, but maybe they won’t work for you. And that’s okay! Figure out how books fit best with your own lifestyle and make it happen. There are no wrong answers.
In the end, my biggest piece of advice is to give yourself a break. Reading 100 books a year does not make you a better reader than someone who reads five, because the point is to trump zero! The idea is just to get started and read something. And that, you can do.