When I was a little girl, I would sit in bookstores and read entire books. Time felt endless, and responsibilities were few. I’d be startled when my parents would find me to tell me it was time to go, and I’d say, “But I only have five pages left.”
Now, I’m lucky if I make it through a book in two weeks. I used to work in publishing and had access to nearly any book I wanted and commuting time to make my way through my giant stack. Now, that’s no longer the case, and I find myself longing for the time when I could just carve out an hour to read. If you’re looking for tips on how to read more, too, here are nine suggestions.
Why you should read more.
You probably already want to read more — that’s why you started this article. But in case you needed any more motivation, here are some other reasons why reading is important.
• Better conversations.
If you’re at a networking event and you’re scrounging for topics to cover, why not bring up the last book you read? Even in casual conversation, reading offers plenty to discuss. You can recommend books to your friends and coworkers, and if you’re reading the same book, even better — you’ll get fresh perspectives and can offer some of your own, too.
• Conquering job interviews.
It’s not out of the question that an interviewer will ask you what you’re reading or like to read, and you better have an intelligent answer ready. Even if you don’t hear this question, bringing up the material you’ve read is a great way to round out a response to some questions.
• Learning and growing.
You don’t need to be reading a weighty nonfiction book or a self-help book to gain valuable information and insights. There’s plenty to absorb from fiction, too!
• It’s enjoyable and relaxing!
9 tips for reading more.
1. Set page goals.
Trying to finish a book in a day is a lofty goal, and few people (at least those with jobs and other responsibilities) would be able to achieve it. But if you want to read a book in a week, it will be much more manageable if you divide it into, said, 50-page chunks. By the end of the week, you’ll have finished a 350-page book.
2. Read what you enjoy.
If you’re not enjoying what you’re reading, you’re unlikely to conquer the book quickly or even at all. Think about why you’re reading in the first place. Your reasons probably include “Because I like to.” Otherwise, why are you doing it at all? Don’t be embarrassed to be reading a thriller or romance novel. If you enjoy it, who cares what other people think?
3. Always have a book on hand.
When I had a full-time job, I got a huge chunk of my reading done on the train. With e-books, it’s easier than ever to take a book with you (I get it if you’re a purist and prefer the physical book, though). You never know when you’ll have a few minutes to read — sitting at the doctor’s office, during your lunch break at work, waiting for a friend’s flight to land — these are all optimal times to read.
4. Remember that it’s okay to quit.
Commitment is well and good, but if you really hate a book, you don’t have to finish it. Who are you impressing by slogging through a book that feels like a chore? Instead, quit that one and start another that you’ll probably enjoy a lot more. You’re wasting precious reading time by committing to a book that doesn’t deserve your commitment.
5. Share your goals with others.
When you articulate your goals to others, you’re accountable to them, too. You can tell them out loud, or you can use digital tools to share your goals publicly. For example, try Goodreads’ reading challenge — this also helps you keep track of the books you’ve read and helps your friends and family members discover new ones based on your reading list (and vice versa).
6. Join or start a book club.
This is another way to be accountable to someone else and find new book ideas. Plus, you’ll be able to discuss what you’ve read with others who have done the same. Just make sure you share similar reading interests with the other members, so you don’t wind up reading books that aren’t your cup of tea.
7. Make the most of your downtime.
Instead of watching Netflix before you go to bed, trying reading instead. It’s also less likely to interfere with your sleep if you’re reading a physical book. You can also pull out a book when you’re tempted to do a deep dive on Facebook or Instagram. Replace those less fulfilling activities with reading.
8. Choose the right format.
Some people swear by Kindles. Others prefer the more traditional method. Pick the format that works for you. If you travel a lot, it can be helpful to pack an e-reader, since you’ll be able to load it with books and won’t run out of reading material. But whatever you like best, stick with it.
9. Read multiple books at once.
Having different types of books going at once can help you stay curious and invested. If you grow bored with one, turn to the other. You might also have multiple books going for different reasons, such as a nonfiction one to learn an important skill and a novel for entertainment. My mom, for one, always has a book for professional purposes and another for pleasure going at the same time.
Reading is fun and fulfilling. You learn, you’re entertained and you feel like you’ve spent your time well. While it can be difficult to find the time to make reading happen, incorporating some or all of these steps into your routine will make it become a habit — and you’ll conquer that growing pile of books by your nightstand in no time.