I recently stumbled upon a Youtube video about a guy who read a book a week for four years. Crazy, over-achiever! Pff. He talked about what he had learned, and how it had shaped his perception of the world. I 100% immediately wanted to try this. But, instead of doing a book a week, I decided 52 books a year is a good mark (that way I won’t give up completely if I miss a week–I’ll just double-down).
Last year I read 30 books, so I had to up my game a lot for this year. Here are some tips for getting more pages into your noggin.
Listen to Audiobooks
Audiobooks are great because you can put them on in the car on your way to work, or listen to them while you walk or jog. You can honestly be immersed in a story while doing any mindless chore (I like to listen while I fold laundry and do dishes).
Apps like Libby make it free and super easy to just borrow a book immediately from the library. So you don’t have to throw hundreds of dollars away on Audible.
Another great feature of audiobooks is adjusting the speed settings. I listen (and speak) at double-speed. Audiobooks are generally recorded very slow, and if you can get in the mode of listening fast, then you can get through more books. I’ve listened to entire books in several hours.
Build a Habit
Some people say they don’t have time to read. You do. You have time to read. If your phone says you spend an average of four hours a day on Instagram, you have time to add a book to your “crazy” schedule.
In all likelihood, you just haven’t built reading into your daily routine, so it doesn’t feel like you have time to read. If you can’t squeeze in audiobooks during your commutes, try adding reading to another daily thing you do. Drink coffee every morning? Make that your reading time. Workout at the gym? Audiobooks! If anything else—just put your book on your pillow every morning, and make sure to read a few pages before you go to bed. Your first book can be Atomic Habits by James Clear, for more habit-building advice. 😉
Find Out What You Want To Read Ahead of Time
Sometimes I want to read, but like browsing Netflix shows, I sometimes can just scroll through endless possibilities without finding something interesting.
The trick to solving this is to pick out books that you want to read early. Sit down and make a list, so that you have plenty to choose from when you’re ready to just hop to it. Goodreads and Amazon Books are great sites to peruse books. On Amazon, you can search for “similar titles” to books you’ve enjoyed before. Goodreads organizes everything into genres. There are also Reddit threads and loads of other places to find good books to read… You could even just look at what’s been on the NYT best-seller list for weeks on end.
Once you have a collection of books you want to read, you don’t have to spend that extra time considering what to pick up.
Skip Pages and Put Books Down
I sometimes binge non-fiction—business books to give myself a pep-talk, or trendy psychology-related books. I cannot even begin to tell you how often these books site the same research and experiment outcomes. Whenever I come across something that references what I’ve read before, I scroll ahead or skip the pages until a new topic comes up.
When I was a kid, I used to always want to read a book completely through. I’d force myself to finish books I wasn’t interested in because I’d already dedicated so much time to them. Now, if I don’t like a book, I put it down. I’ve started doing this with Netflix too. Halfway through a binge I’ll realize a show isn’t very good, and just turn it off. How invested are you in these characters? The whole point of some of these escapist modes is to entertain. So don’t waste your time if you’re not getting anything from it. It’ll free you up to find something you really do enjoy.
Train Your Eyes
Once, on vacation, I saw a woman flipping through a book, only glancing at each page for seconds at a time. When I questioned her with incredulity, she explained that after years of teaching, she had learned to train her eyes to speed read.
I’m no expert on this, but there are articles and Youtube videos to help teach you this skill. Essentially, you can train your brain to read several words, out of order, and have your brain fill in the rest of the content, rather than reading linearly.
I actually read normally, but I can force myself to read faster. Like sprinting, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.