You might be thinking that it would be nice to read more books, but who the heck has the time for that?! One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is the how of it. How can I get myself to read more books? So, I decided to research the topic and came up with this post on how to read more books!
Is Reading a Priority?
You might be wondering how your reading habits stack up to the average person. I was curious about that, so I Googled How Many Books Does the Average Person Read in a Year? I was surprised to find that the average person read about 12 books a year! That’s only one book a month.
As with anything else in life, if you want to read more books, you have to make it a priority and actually schedule a time for it. Otherwise, like other good intentions, it might not happen!
Why Do You Want to Read?
There are so many reasons to read, but you need to know why you want to read. Is it a form of education? An escape? Keeping up with new books? What is it that motivates you to read?
Figure this out and then you’ll have an easier time choosing books and finding time for them. Your why might be a combination of reasons. My why is that I enjoy the escape books give me and I love reading about destinations that I can’t get to right now!
Make a commitment
If you really want to know how to read more books, then you’ll need to make the time to read! One of the easiest ways to fit reading into your schedule is at the end of the day! Not only is reading before you go to sleep good for you, but it’ll help you finish those books!
Did you know that reading at bedtime can help 1) Improve cognitive function, 2) Reduce your stress levels, and 3) Reduce cortisol levels (a hormone released in response to stress)
And, if you read just 15-minutes before bed each night, you’ll finish approximately 11 books in a year!
Create Realistic Reading Goals
One of the most important pieces to this “how to read more books” puzzle is to be realistic with what kind of commitment you can make. It’s unrealistic to make a goal of reading 100 books in a year if you only have about 20 minutes a day you can commit to reading.
So, having said that, here are two ways you can figure out your realistic goals!
Method 1 – How many books?
For this method of setting the goal, you start with your end goal. How many books do you want to read this year? Then we’ll work backward to figure out how to fit that into your days.
I’m going to use an example of 25 books, just to show you this works.
- 25 books x 100,000 words (average words in adult fiction book) = 2.5 million words
- 2.5 million words / 200 words per minute (average reading speed) = 12,500 minutes of reading
- 12,500 minutes of reading / 365 days = 35 minutes of reading per day
So, if you want to read 25 books per year, you would need to read 35 minutes per day!
Method 2 – How much time?
For this method, we’ll be starting with how much time you feel you can commit to regularly for reading. Then we’ll figure out how many books that will work out to per year.
I’m going to use an example of 60 minutes of reading per day, just to show you how this works.
- 60 minutes per day x 200 words per minute = 12,000 words per day
- 12,000 words per day x 365 days per year = 4.38 million words read in a year
- 4.38 million words / 100,000 words (average in adult fiction book) = 43-44 books per year.
Join my 5-Day READ MORE Challenge to help you find more time to read!
Create new Reading Habits
So, now that you have a realistic reading goal, it’s time to create some new reading habits! One of the best tips for how to read more books is to create new habits that support reading!
1. Have a reading spot that doesn’t have distractions
Find a spot that is free from distraction and comfortable. You’ll want good lighting and, like I already mentioned, comfort! This will likely become your favorite spot in the house, and where you’ll make the biggest change in your reading habits!
2. It’s ok to not finish books you aren’t enjoying
Don’t feel bad about quitting a book! If within the first few chapters it’s not working for you, don’t feel like you have to finish it. I have found that when I try to power through a book I’m not enjoying, it takes me forever to finish it. Don’t do that to yourself!! There are too many good books worthy of your time to waste it on a book you aren’t enjoying.
3. Rethink your bookshelf; make it user-friendly vs. static
This habit is one I’m still working on! I’m not great at getting rid of books. I’m great at bringing them in and finding them a new home, but after I read them they just go on the bookshelf to live forever.
The idea of creating a more fluid bookshelf is really interesting to me. To let books go when you’re done with them and add new books as you get them. I use the library a lot, so I’ve found a spot on the bookshelf for my library books.
I’ve come up with a few different categories of books for my “new” bookshelf: Keepers – books I want to keep, To-Be-Read Books – books waiting for their turn, Pass On – books I’m done with and comfortable passing along to someone else, and Library books – books I need to keep track of to get back to the library on time.
4. Create a new morning/evening routine
When is the best time for you to get your reading in? I enjoy reading at night and so it’s become part of my evening routine. But, if morning works better for you, try to rework your routine to fit in 15 or so minutes of reading.
Changing your morning or evening routine will help create your reading habit even faster!
Quick tips to fit more reading in
Join a reading challenge
By joining a reading challenge, you’ll have a specific time frame and reading goal. And, the group mentality will keep you going through the challenge! GoodReads is a great place to track your challenge!
Join a book club
When you join a book club, you won’t have to worry about what books to read next! Typically, you’ll only go through one book a month in a book club, so if you read more than that you will have time.
Also, don’t rule out online book clubs! Some of the big stars have book clubs that are very popular and read some great books. Here are a few you might want to check out: Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, Emma Watson
If you’d prefer something closer to home, check out the book clubs at your local library. And, if all else fails and you can’t find one you want to join, then start your own book club! Here are some tips and tricks for starting your own book club!
Don’t read on your phone
For a lot of people, reading on their phone is one of the easiest ways to fit reading in. But, reading on your phone can be very distracting. With every email, text message, FB message, etc. dinging in every few minutes it makes for some very distracted reading.
Commit to a specific number of pages/day and fit time in to get them in
You have figured out how many pages (or how much time) you need to read each day, so now you just need to figure out how to fit them in. It doesn’t have to be all in one stretch. If you get short breaks at work, then pull out your book for as many pages as you can fit in.
A lot of people commit to 20 pages per day and find small pockets throughout the day to finish them up. Twenty pages are not overwhelming, so pretty much anyone can find time to fit those into their day!
Keep a to-be-read list so you aren’t ever stuck for what to read
One of the biggest problems readers tend to have is figuring out what to read next! One of the easiest ways to figure out what to read next is to ask others. If you have friends that are readers, ask them their favorite books. Join a Facebook group for readers and ask in there. Most of the time you won’t even have to ask though because someone else will have already.
Keep a small notebook or your planner on you to jot down the names of books people recommend. Then, when you have a chance, look them up and see if they look like something you’d enjoy. If not, cross it off. If so, keep it on your list and you can look forward to when that book comes up to read!
Mix your reading between business and pleasure
I know a lot of people have to read books for their business. Whether for continuing education, just general business books, or learning new skills there are lots of great books out there to read. But, I find it helpful to go back and forth between books I’m reading for my business and books I’m reading for pleasure.
Read more than one book at a time
A question I hear often is Is it better to read multiple books at once? Personally, I do read more than one book at a time. I usually have a non-fiction and a fiction book going at the same time. It’s easy to keep them straight because they are so different.
Less screen time
I mentioned this one earlier, but it is worth repeating. Less screen time equals more reading time! Try to get off screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime. This not only helps you sleep better but gives you a built-in opportunity to read more books!
Always have a book with you
This is probably the number one tip I have for how to read more books! Always have a book with you!! Carry a book in your purse, your briefcase, have one in your car, or your diaper bag.
If you have a long commute, a long wait at the doctor’s office, the wait time at kid pick-up – all of these are opportunities to read, if you have a book with you! If you always have a book with you, you are guaranteed to not miss one of those opportunities!
Read shorter books
It makes sense that if you want to read more books, an easy way to accomplish that is to read shorter books. The average adult fiction book is about 100,000 words, but a young adult book averages in at around 65,000 words.
Read books you enjoy
Read books you like! This should go without saying!! But, one of the problems I’ve seen is that people don’t know what they enjoy reading. If someone says they don’t like reading, it might just be that they haven’t found the right book yet! There are somewhere between 600,000 – 1,000,000 books published each year. Surely someone is writing something you will enjoy. It may take a little time and effort to find it, but it’s worth the effort!
Have books around you
Just like always carrying a book with you, if you live with books around you it is easier to read them! This is also key is showing your children that reading is important. When they see books around the house and see their parent reading, it shows that reading is normal and important.
And, if you have your to-be-read pile hanging around on your bookshelf, it’s easy to find what to read next every time you finish a book.
There seems to be a lot of controversy about whether or not listening to audiobooks “counts” for reading. Books are books!! Whether you are listening or reading, it is still a book!!
If you have a long commute to work, that’s a great time to pop in an audiobook and listen for the length of your commute. If you have an hour to and from work each day, that’s 10 hours of listening each week. You can get through a lot of books just on your commute to work!
Wrap Up of How to Read More Books
So, let’s recap a bit. There’s a lot of information here about how to read more books, so let’s quickly go through some of it again.
- Create realistic goals for how many books you want to read. Follow the formulas above and you’ll be rocking your goals!
- Find a quiet (not distracting) spot to read. Indoor, outdoors. It doesn’t matter! Find a beautiful spot and a book. This is the perfect spot to work on your reading habits!
- Don’t be afraid to quit a book you’re not enjoying! There’s no rule saying you have to finish a book. If you don’t like it, put it down!!
- Create new routines to help make reading a habit. Add reading to your morning or evening routine (or both).
- Join a book club or a reading challenge. Don’t be afraid to start your own book club if you need to. Or, try an online book club!
- Keep a to-be-read list. It’s always nice to know what to read next. It’s such a horrible feeling to finish a book and not have the next one ready!
- Keep a book with you all the time. This is the best tip for getting more books read.
- Try audiobooks! Yes, audiobooks count!! Find a reader you enjoy and get listening!
Do you have any tips on how to read more books? I’d love to hear them. Drop a comment and share your best tips. And, if you’d like to find more time to read, join my 5-Day READ MORE Challenge! Go at your own pace, but find the time to read the books you want to read!
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Becki is the author and founder of A Book Lover’s Adventures. She has a degree in elementary education, has worked and volunteered in libraries for years, and spent several years in the travel industry. All of this has led to a love of books and travel. Becki loves to share her love by finding literary escapes to share!