Ever since I was a toddler, I have absolutely loved books. My family says I was reading when I was 2 years old, and I've never really stopped. I've gone through phases with my reading as I've grown up, but it's always been something I've loved and come back to time and time again.
This year, I've already read over 100 books, and people are constantly asking me "HOW DO YOU READ SO MUCH?!" so I thought it would be fun to share the best tips and tricks I know.
Here are my best reading tricks:
- Always, always, always have a book with you. Having something to read within your reach means you're able to read any time you have a few spare minutes. If you have a Kindle, keep that on you anywhere you go. Keep a book in your car (mine's a collection of short stories that I can get through easier when I have random chunks of time). Keep a book at your desk at work. Bring a book even when you think you won't need one-- you never know!
- Set a goal for your year. At the beginning of each year, I set a goal for myself based on what I read the year before. I try to stretch it, but still make it reasonably attainable. My goal for 2016 started at 80 books, but I reached that before the year was halfway over. I bumped it up to 100 and hit that in September, so I amped it up yet again to 150. Having that number in my mind keeps me motivated to keep reading even when I'm tempted to just binge on Netflix every evening. (ps-- Goodreads makes having a reading challenge really fun!)
- Switch up your reading speeds. I'm a fast reader by nature, but I've also learned that I can read certain books quicker than others. If it's a modern fiction book, I can fly through it in no time. Sure, I'm probably missing some of the details and nuances, but for most books, it doesn't really matter. For classic literature or faith-based books, I take my time much more. Don't feel pressured to read every single word of every single page of the book you're in! You can skim, you can skip, you can rush. Nobody is going to quiz you afterward!
- Set goals for yourself. There are many times where I've wanted to stop reading because I'm tired or getting bored or something, but I'll just tell myself "get to the end of the chapter" or "finish this section first" and I keep going. I read more because I set little mini-goals for myself throughout the book to keep me pushing onward.
- Read a variety of books (and other content). If I just read fiction all day every day, I would burn out on books. I've found it's helpful to mix up styles, genres, authors, and lengths of books as I read. I'll read a C.S. Lewis book, then a recent library grab, then a memoir, then something different for #COLLABOREADS, and so on. It keeps it fun. Don't just read books either-- grab a magazine every now and then, read blogs, read longform essays, read poetry!
- Making reading a treat, not a chore. If you constantly dread reading, stop reading those kinds of things! Frame reading for yourself in a way that makes it something you look forward to, even if that means something like having a glass of wine while you read, or having an evening snack while you get a few pages in.
- Find book-loving friends to keep you encouraged. I love following people like Amber, Lauren, Annie, Leah, Bailey, and others for book recommendations. Plus, seeing that they're reading keeps me going in my own reading.
- Track your reading habits. I use Goodreads, and it's great! Like I said above, I set my reading challenge goal there every year, and it's great to see that bar filling up as I finish books throughout the year. It's also fun to have a newsfeed of what people are reading and reviewing-- I always add new things to my to-read list that way. Also, I've created lots of unique shelves (like classics, books by authors of color, foodie books, etc) and since Goodreads can give you targeted recommendations by shelf, I'm constantly finding new books that are similar to ones I've liked. It's great having all my reading recorded, and all my reviews (stars and written thoughts) in one place. Some people use a journal for this, and Amber sells really cute ones if paper is more your thing!
- Listen to book-ish podcasts. My favorite is What Should I Read Next? with Anne Bogel. She plays literary matchmaker with a new guest every week, and it's so much fun. She asks 3 books they loved, 1 book they hated, and what they're reading now, and then pairs them with new options. I cannot listen to an episode without wanting to run out and grab at least one of the books she talks about! It's also helpful to listen to her matchmaking thoughts and start to draw my own connections in my personal reading-- is it plot-driven novels I enjoy, or character-centric stories, for example? She's a great host and she keeps me excited about books.
- Keep different books in different accessible places. I keep several on my nightstand, a big stack at the office, one in my car, my Kindle in my purse, etc. Sometimes just seeing a different book than the one I'm in the middle of will grab my attention and get me reading again!
- Give up on bad books or books you just aren't liking. Yes, this is a tip for how to read more! I'm a big advocate of this. Read what you love, people! That doesn't always mean you'll 100% like everything about a book or 100% agree with everything or think it's total gold, but if you aren't engaged with it, there's no point. If you're dragging through a book that just doesn't grab you or interest you at all, you will burn out on reading altogether. This is not good. I typically give books 50 pages to impress me or engage me, and if they don't, I give it up and move on to something else. I absolutely read more because of this! Don't waste your time on books you don't like, even if it's a book that's super popular or a classic or somebody you know loves it. If you don't like it, don't keep reading it.
- Keep a visual stack of the books you've read. I started doing this in 2014, and it changed everything about my reading. I just started putting one book on top of the last one as I finished them, and watching that pile grow throughout the year kept me SO motivated. Granted, I had to return library books and I couldn't stack ebooks or audiobooks, but it was a great reminder to just keep choosing books over other less fulfilling activities.
- Try a reading challenge. This year (in September actually, once the year was nearly over...) I decided to try out some reading challenges. I grabbed a list from Anne Bogel here, and another one from Book Riot here. (I'm going to blog about everything I read for those challenges once I finish them!) Just seeing the list of prompts got me excited about reading all over again, and trying to fill up those lists has encouraged me to read all kinds of new things I never would have otherwise (like a comic book for middle schoolers!) and it's been so much fun.
Fellow readers-- any tips you would add to this list?! What have you found to be the best tips or tricks for reading lots and lots of books?!
Here are some fun throwback book-ish posts for you:
The Books I Read in 2014 (Spoiler: there were just 39! I haven't always read 100+ books a year.)
Everything I Read in 2015 (I jumped up to 85 books in 2015! Progress.)
20 Books I Want to Read This Summer (Confession: I only have gotten through 8, and I started but abandoned 5 others, and haven't touched the rest.)