10 Tips on How to Read More (and Better)
Written By Regular Contributor, Rachel Dawson
Last year, I read just over 150 books.
I often share glimpses of what I’m reading on Instagram in between writing monthly reviews on my blog, and I’m always asked just how I read that much.
It’s funny to me that people are asking that on my social media sites or blog, because it means they’ve spent their time scrolling to find my post, which is time they really could have spent reading… but I digress.
In a world that’s increasingly more fast-paced and noisy, there’s something calming and appealing about reading real books. Not only are we opening our minds to new ideas, new stories, new perspectives, and new art, but we’re making an intentional effort to better ourselves while we support the hard work of the authors whose books we’re enjoying.
I personally believe everyone should read more, and if the conversations I’ve been hearing in 2017 so far are any indication, I think a lot of people are wanting to do so, too!
I’ve set my 2017 goal at 150 books again, and I’m happy to say that after just one month, I’m already more than 10% of the way there!
Let me share what I’ve learned.
None of these tips and tricks are THAT challenging, trust me. I won’t ask you to stop going to work or stop going on dates or totally abandon any sort of social life so you can just read all day, but I will suggest lots of little things that I promise will help you turn more pages and finish more books.
01: Always have a book with you
This is the most important thing. You can’t read books if books aren’t with you! If ebooks are your thing, keep your Kindle in your bag. If not, keep a few books with you wherever you go -- I personally have several in my bag, one in my car, tons at my house, etc. If a book is nearby when you have a few minutes of downtime (like at a restaurant or while waiting on an appointment), you can get some reading in!
02: Set a reading goal
This is important too-- having a number of books you want to read in a year (or some other kind of goal you want to work toward) will help keep you motivated and engaged with your reading. It doesn’t have to be a huge goal, either. Maybe you want to make 2017 the year you finally read that one book you’ve been dying to get to for a while, or you want to read one book a month, or you just want to read more than last year. Whatever you decide, put it in writing and commit to making it happen.
03: Read a variety of books
I think this is incredibly important. I, just like any other reader, have certain genres or styles I love to read, but if I only ever read one kind of book, I’ll easily get burned out on the whole thing. It’s much better to switch things up to keep yourself interested. Try reading a fiction novel followed by a book of poetry followed by a memoir of a person you admire and then a book related to your field or career.
04: Listen to audiobooks
I’m much more of a visual learner, but even I have found audiobooks I’ve loved listening to. We all have time throughout our day when we could easily listen to a chapter or several -- it might be while you’re cooking dinner, doing laundry, going for a run, commuting to the office, whatever. That’s valuable time that could be spent making progress on a great book! (The Martian has so far been my favorite audiobook, if you’re looking for a good one.)
05: Give up on bad books
This might not seem like a way to read more books, but trust me. If you’re slogging through a book that just isn’t doing anything for you, you’ll want to stop reading completely. Give books a fair shot (I usually say about 50 pages is a good indicator) but don’t be afraid to put them aside if you aren’t feeling it. Grab something else instead, and come back later if it sparks your interest again!
06: Try a reading challenge
This is what makes reading feel like a fun game-- challenges! Find a list (there are plenty if you just Google “ 2017 reading challenge”) and spend some time on Goodreads to find books that fit the different criteria. It’s a great way to get out of a reading rut, push yourself to read new things, and stay excited about books all year long. (I’m personally doing Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Reading Challenge and loving it!)
07: Track your reading
Speaking of Goodreads, it’s a helpful tool for keeping track of what you’ve read and what you thought of it. I make shelves for different categories, and make use of the recommendations they give me based on those shelves. For example, I’ve made a shelf for all the poetry books I’ve read, and then Goodreads gives me ideas of other books I might love as a result. It’s a helpful way to be introduced to new books in genres you love! Plus, seeing those shelves grow as you read makes you want to keep reading, which is what we’re all about. (Make shelves for each year to track your books easily too!)
08: Keep a visual stack of books you’ve read
This really only works if you’re reading paper books, but I love stacking up my monthly reads on top of my desk and seeing the pile grow. At the end of the month, I snap a picture for Instagram, and it’s so fun to look back on those stacks and remember what I read each month. The visual reminder is a great motivator!
09: Connect with other bookworms
Search book-related hashtags on Instagram, browse blogs, connect on Goodreads, or just ask people you know in real life for recommendations, and you’ll soon find that the book-loving community is a great one to be a part of. I love talking books with friends both on and offline, and I always walk away with additions to my to-be-read list!
10: Make reading a treat, not a chore
If reading is something you dread, try to combine it with something you enjoy. Maybe that means making your favorite drink to sip on while you read, or that you read while taking a bath after a long day. Experiment with different kinds of books to find something you like, and don’t be ashamed of whatever you find you love! Romance novels might get a bad rap, but if you love them, reading a bunch of them is better than not reading at all!
Now, tell me: what tricks have you found to help you read more books? Anybody else have a goal for their reading this year? Let’s create a book-lovers chat here in the comments!
Rachel Dawson is a believer, editor, writer, and juggler of many creative and community-building endeavors. She spends her days crafting words, creating art, and bringing people together both online and in Richmond, VA. You'll commonly find her wearing black in cozy coffeeshops with her nose in a book and a vegan latte in hand but she'll drop everything to swap stories with you.