I have always been an avid reader but especially so for the past seven or eight years. Every time I do a Q&A I get asked how I read so much! (I also get asked what I do with all those books – I pass them along to friends… sharing books is my love language). Today on the podcast we tackle that briefly (but only before diving into our favorite underrated books along with several listener submissions!) but I’d also been working on a blog post about reading more for a while so thought I’d publish the post today.
I probably read at least two books a week. I know that’s a lot. And I just genuinely LOVE reading and will also say that I think my life circumstances definitely help. I’m single, child-free, and we are in a pandemic. So most of my free time is spent reading. I see firsthand how kids can change everything: my two sisters love reading as much as I do but barely get a chance to read as they both have small children. Also, let’s be honest, reading is now a part of my job. My reading lists (and filterable books page) are among my most popular blog posts, and we talk about books a LOT on the podcast. All of that being said, I do have a few tips for reading more, so let’s dive in!
How to Read More Books!
Read more than one book at a time!
This might sound daunting but I promise it isn’t. At any given moment I am most likely reading three books. Usually that is something fun (fiction), something educational (non-fiction / self-help), and then I am listening to a third book on my walks or while I’m doing chores (or in quar, a puzzle).
I’m usually listening to a non-fiction book and then reading physical copies of something non-fiction and something fiction. I will say that I typically take MUCH longer to read fiction vs. non-fiction. And I can read a murdery thriller within 24 hours but something more serious (like The Underground Railroad more recently for example) will take me a lot longer.
Weekends are made for books.
My favorite thing in the world (and it definitely doesn’t always happen) is to have an uninterrupted 3-4 hours on a Saturday or Sunday morning to just read in bed or on my couch. Ideally, this involves coffee, a bagel, and a nap afterward.
Read before bed.
My favorite way to wind down the day is to spend a solid hour reading before bed. My reading time before bed is my favorite part of the day. Sometimes I will pick up a book before bed and be unable to stop reading. This doesn’t always happen but I’ve been pretty great at this during quarantine as I have far fewer plans these days. But even making it a goal to read 20 pages a night will help you hit your reading goals.
Read books you love!
I think people feel pressure to read smart books, and that is okay. But I want to stress something: all books are good books. Kind of like exercise, there’s no such thing as bad reading! I try to read a few non-fiction books every month for personal betterment but if we are being honest I don’t LOVE reading them the way I love some of the fiction books. I learn a lot, but what really relaxes me and helps me unwind from a long week is to curl up with a murdery Gone Girl knockoff. It is what it is, I’m lowbrow I guess. What I’m trying to say is that if I tried to read only “serious” and non-fiction books, I’d probably read way less.
You don’t have to read the latest New York Times pick or Ryan Holiday book… pick books you genuinely enjoy! If you are finding motivating to read hard and need a good starting point, this page can help: it’s packed with good books to read and you can filter by genre and sort by ranking.
Do not be afraid to DNF (do not finish) a book you aren’t enjoying. If you find you’re slogging through a book, it’s perfectly okay to stop reading it. Life is too short to read bad books… or even “good” books that we don’t enjoy. Don’t force it!
Take books with you!
OK so this might not be as relevant as usual but one day things will get back to normal, and I generally always have a book (or at least an audiobook) on my person. On the subway, when waiting for a doctor’s appointment (or hell, the 2020 version of that: standing in line for a COVID test), etc. Most of my favorite handbags are big enough to fit a book, and it makes a difference having a book on your person.
Audiobooks are a game changer.
Honestly, I was a little bit of a snob about audiobooks for a while. I’d only read physical books. But this year I got into audiobooks and have really loved it, especially on the non-fiction front. My favorite audiobooks are definitely memoirs, ideally narrated by the author.
Take the pressure off.
Reading books should be fun! If you want to start reading more, tell yourself how much fun it will be. Treat it like what it is… a treat, vs. a chore, or something you “should” be doing more of. Your reading habits will improve when you treat it as something fun as opposed to a task.
Join a Book Club!
This may be hard during lockdown but there are so many great virtual book clubs! A few favs: Spivey’s Book Club, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Onward Book Club, and of course… Bad on Paper. When I first moved to New York, a book club was how I made all of my close girlfriends…. it’s an amazing way to meet a group of women who enjoy reading as much as you do. Joining your local library can be a great way to find a book club, depending on where you live.
PS – This podcast episode also has some great advice on how to read more. A lot of the advice is totally different from how I approach reading (I don’t really read in the morning!) but I love the advice on keeping track of what you read.. it definitely motivates me!
Photo by Allie Provost.