As an avid bookworm as well as an all-around busy person, it’s near impossible to find time to sit down and read. Even so, it’s not even halfway through the year, and I’ve somehow (even I’m surprised) managed to read over fifty books so far in 2018. This is a massive step up from where I was three years ago, barely managing twenty or so a year!
Many of us make new years promises we can’t keep when it comes to books. Trying to hit a mystical number of ‘read’ ones so that we can impress ourselves, our friends, and feel better about how we spend our time. But reaching that goal can certainly feel like an uphill battle, especially now when some of us are entering June with none of that glorious progress made.
The biggest secret (which isn’t so secret) is that you have to make time for reading in order to actually make it through that tower of books that are threatening to tumble on you when you add another one to the reading list. I’ve assembled a short list of tips that helped me find more time to read, and I’m sure can help breeze through your pile of books.
- Social Media Blackout
The biggest book distractor is that little brick in your pocket with access to the entire known universe. Your phone, your computer, your tablet… they’re so useful and yet so addictive!
Want more time to read? Turn the phone on silent for 30 minutes. Put it in a separate room. Let it charge in quiet. Resist the urge/habit to check it for those 30 minutes: this is your time to enjoy your book.
For some, this is going to hurt. It’s going to feel like a punishment: anyone who’s grown up with the fear of having their phone taken away knows that feeling. But remind yourself this is your time for you. Not only will it give you more time to read, but you can focus this time on being more mindful as well.
Enjoy the freedom of being disconnected, and soon 30 minutes won’t feel like enough. See if you can extend this amount every day. And you don’t have to limit this to your phone or your computer: do you watch a lot of shows on Netflix or TV? Tell yourself to watch one episode less every day.
2. Figure out your reader type
What kind of bookworm are you? An early bird? Night owl?
When it comes to reading, everyone is different. Here I am stating the obvious again! Test out how you like reading at different times of the day to see how it feels. Personally, if I read for an hour right after waking up, I feel refreshed: but if I read before going to bed, no matter how good the book is, I can barely keep my eyes open.
Find out what time you get the most out of reading and stick to it. Some people like reading over their lunch breaks, riding the food-coma and using books to put them back in the ‘zone’ to work. Or you might like reading right after dinner, maybe taking a long bath.
Trust me: if you read at the wrong time of day, it’s going to feel like a chore and it’s going to take forever. And that’s exactly what we don’t want.
3. Squeezing in every second
I would spend my days reading if I could, but dangit, there are chores. There’s work. There’s food to be made. If you’re like me, you know that life gets in the way of a good book.
But it doesn’t have to. I’ll put food in the oven, and pick up a book, reading until it’s time to take it out. Reading while waiting on a washing machine to finish its job. Reading while on hold on the phone.
And if you have a long commute (or even a short one) books are your best friend. I read most of the Game of Thrones series while riding buses to work! And if you drive, consider audiobooks: many libraries allow you to borrow them, and it’s a great way to get your reading done while keeping your eyes on the road.
Reading is a great way to turn a chore into a minor inconvenience. Heck, it’s rather nice to take a break from your daily life and explore another world in between two loads of laundry.
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
Want to read more books? Read faster! Wow, it sounds really condescending when I say it like that. But it’s true: like any activity, you get better with practice. The more you read, the faster you read, and the more books you’ll consume. So how to read more books? Read more books!
if you want to speed up the process, there are many apps that can help you become a speed reader. The first one I ever used was Spreeder: you can customize the speed at which test flashes on the screen, and it teaches your mind to process more text, faster. It’s a great skill to learn and there are so many apps out there to help you.
The trick is to realize you don’t need that voice in your head reading the words to you aloud. Think about it: you started reading by sounding out sounds when you were a kid. Then you learned to read inside your head by imagining those sounds internally. Isn’t the natural next step to do without the sounds completely?
Once you learn how to do that, you suddenly read entire lines at once. You’ll have entire novels read in a single day! This is even better for textbooks, which are dense in information and not (usually) full of fun and joy.
5. Ditch the Doldrums
Now I’m going to tell you the exact opposite of what I said above: you can read more by reading less.
What I mean by this is that some books are not worth your time. Seriously. If you can’t make it through the first few chapters, then why force yourself to make it all the way through the book? Learn to accept that not every book needs to be finished, and move on.
Seriously. You’ll find more time for reading and enjoy it more if you read the books you want to read. Ditch dull books. Toss out the poorly edited. You don’t have to read anything.
But what if it’s a classic? So what, it’s not working for you. You gave it a good try, move on.
But what if everyone says it’s amazing? Not every book works for everyone. If they did, we’d all be the same person, and that would be dull as heck.
But what if I have an essay due on it? Exception: if you’re a student reading for an assignment, ignore this advice and push yourself through it. Use the other 4 tips. Some books do actually have to be read.
Reading is supposed to be a joy. Something you do for fun, to spend a good time hallucinating wildly while staring at dead trees. So don’t be afraid of abandoning a book just because you don’t like it: think of the time you’ll save for books you’re going to love!