Everybody says they want to read more books but too many people make excuses why they don’t. We live in a world of endless distractions. When does anybody have time to read? Especially with all those TV shows to binge watch.
Despite their busy schedules, many people are able to read 50+ books per year. They’re not superhuman, just regular people who make a deliberate effort to read each day because they recognize the benefits of reading.
According to Pew Research Center, the median number of books read by a typical American is 4 per year, meaning half of Americans read more and half read fewer. The average is 12 books per year but this number is skewed higher due to a small number of avid readers. Still, reading more than the average American is a low bar and easily achievable.
Below are some tips to help you read more books this year. None are difficult. You’ll regret not trying them sooner.
1. Set a reading goal
One of the easiest ways to commit to reading more books is by setting a goal. You could try reading one book per month (12 books per year) or one book per week (52 books per year).
Or you could set a daily goal like reading for 30 minutes per day, one chapter per day or 25 pages per day. Reading only 25 pages per day would equal about 30 books in a year (assuming an average book length of 300 pages).
Adjust your goal if it was too ambitious or not ambitious enough.
2. Read daily
The best way to meet your reading goal is by developing a consistent daily reading habit. Setting a specific time in your day dedicated to reading can help. Try reading everyday during lunch, after dinner or before bed.
You could use Jerry Seinfeld’s calendar system where every day you meet your goal you mark a large ‘X’ on a wall calendar. After a few days you’ll have a chain of Xs and you’ll want to keep the chain going. Don’t break it, keep reading.
It’s not the end of the world if you do break the chain. But the more days you go without reading, the harder it is to get back into the habit.
3. Learn to quit books
Don’t torture yourself by reading books that are boring, not what you expected or just plain bad. It’s okay to quit. Whether you realize a book sucks in the first chapter or half way through, just stop reading.
Once you’ve lost interest in a book, you’re not really paying attention or absorbing any information. It’s pointless to struggle trying to finish it. There’s no prize for getting to the end.
Look at the bright side – you can cross another book off your list and start reading a new one that you’re actually interested in and can enjoy. Over 130 million books have been published in modern human history. There are more good books that match your interests than you’ll ever be able to read.
4. Always carry a book with you
Carrying a book with you at all times will provide more opportunities to read. If you mindlessly browse Twitter or Facebook on your phone during a break or downtime, read a book instead.
You can read during your commute on public transit, on your lunch break, waiting for an appointment, on the toilet. The possibilities are endless and this extra reading time will add up.
If you don’t want to carry a physical book with you, download the Kindle app and read an ebook on your phone.
5. Take a break from the news
If you find yourself spending lots of time reading news articles online and not enough time reading books, cut back on the news and devote that time to reading a book instead.
Sure there are some interesting articles online but a lot of time is wasted reading through the junk and fluff pieces to find the gems. That time would be better spent reading a book that goes much more in depth on the same subjects.
Plus compared to articles, books are typically based on more extensive research, have higher quality writing and better editing.
6. Make a reading list or find a curated list
It’s easier to read consistently when you know what you’re going to read next. During conversations, podcasts, interviews or articles pay particular attention when someone mentions or recommends books that sound interesting.
Write down the book titles, look them up later and add them to your reading list if they appeal to you. Trello, Evernote or Google Keep are good for making reading lists or you can make a simple pen and paper list. Crossing the books you’ve read off your list is both motivating and fulfilling.
If you aren’t interested in making or maintaining your own reading list, find a trusted source who recommends books and use their list – examples include Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Tim Ferriss, Christopher Ryan, James Altucher, Ryan Holiday, TED Talks, goodreads.
Or check out the most mentioned books on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast.
7. Dedicate a spot for reading
If you do most of your reading at home, dedicate a spot for reading. Make sure it’s quiet, has a comfortable seat, good lighting and is free of distractions.
Your reading spot could be a corner chair, window seat, home office or outdoors on the deck. It could also be your bed if reading is part of your bedtime ritual. Try to avoid rooms with a TV if your willpower is weak.
Creating an ideal reading environment makes it easier to immerse yourself in a book.
You might also like: Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read More