7 simple ways to read more this year.

7 simple ways to read more this year.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably not one of the 28% of Americans who didn’t read a book this year. I don’t need to convince you to read, although neither do I have a magic wand I can wave to help you squeeze more reading time into your days. I do have 7 simple strategies to help you read more this year.

There are two basic approaches to broadening your reading time. The first is to make it easy. I’m currently reading a book about healthy eating, but the psychologist’s tips for eating less junk and more veggies are oddly transferable: people are lazy, they do what’s easy, and they do what’s right in front of them. If you make it easy to read more, you will read more.

(In the tips below, this looks like good books, readily available, wherever you are.)

The second approach is to build reading into your days, in advance and on purpose. Schedule yourself a reading time. Plan for a regular reading break with your coffee or lunch or the kids’ after school snack. Put a great book by your bed and commit to reading a chapter before turning out the light every night. If you plan to read, you will read more.

These 7 tips will help you fit more reading into your life. Give them a try, stick with the ones that work for you, and make this your best reading year yet.

1. Plan it. Your To Be Read list, that is. The hardest part of reading is figuring out what to read next, so do that before it’s time to sit down and read. Make your library requests, borrow from a friend, download those Kindle books so you’ll be ready to read at reading time. Good reading comes to those who plan ahead.

2. Schedule it. Build reading time into your daily life. Schedule 20 minutes in the morning or an hour at bedtime. Read during that 2:00 slump when nothing productive gets done anyway. Commit to a book on your commute or with your cup of tea. Borrow a tip from the pros and plan a daily reading break.

3. Track it. You get what you measure: track your reading, and you’ll make more reading happen. Log what you’ve already read and what you want to read, whether you use Goodreads, a moleskine, a customizable journal, or a little $6 one that’s ready to go. Bonus points for star ratings, etc., but a simple list of titles is better than nothing.

4. Quit it. Grown-ups shouldn’t finish books they’re not enjoying. You don’t have to suffer through a book. Read what you love, read what you want to read, read indulgently, read aspirationally, but reading should never be torture.

5. Never leave home without a book. Keep a book in your purse, or your glove compartment, and download the free Kindle app, Fill that waiting time with reading.

6. Read multiple books at once. You’ll always have a book ready to suit your current mood. Bonus: having multiple books going makes it much easier to keep a book in your purse, or on your nightstand, or in the car so it’s ready when you are.

7. Go hands-free. Audiobook listeners can read while they drive, paint, walk, run, cook, shop, or tidy up. Not every book lends itself to this format, but many titles are even better on audio. Get acquainted with your library options, give Audible a free trial, check out this list of favorite titles.

Are you resolved to read more this year? Tell us your go-to tips and strategies in comments. 

P.S. The 2016 Reading Challengehow I find time to read, and what you should be reading to relax before bed.

7 simple ways to read more this year



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  1. Pam Moore says:

    My library’s digital website has a wish list that I’ve filled with all of the books I’d like to read (or listen to). When I’m done with one I just go to my wish list and see what is available. It’s also a great place to keep all of those highly recommended books that I’d otherwise forget.

    I’ve fallen in love with audiobooks this past year, too. Standing at the sink washing dishes actually becomes enjoyable when listening to a really good book.

    Thanks for some more great tips!

    • Morgan says:

      Many public libraries subscribe to services like Overdrive, Hoopla, and 3M Cloud which have free ebook and audiobook lending. You should see if yours has them!

  2. Marne says:

    Thanks, Anne! All very good reminders. My goal this year (besides working on my Book Bingo) is to write better reviews (on Goodreads and Amazon). I tend to just give out stars but not go into the meaty depths of why I liked it or not. And while I highlight many phrases in the book as I read, I don’t do anything with them when I’m done. Hmmm.

    Oh, and I appreciate the validation of #4, above. My mantra is “life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy.”

    Happy 2016 reading!

  3. Brittany says:

    Love this post. Until recently I strictly adhered to the one book at a time approach and couldn’t imagine any other way. However, now I enjoy a couple at a time. You’re right when you say it’s about the mood. I tend to read fiction at night before bed when I have a longer amount of time and concentration. But I read non-fiction throughout the day when I get random bits of time.

  4. Jill Koly says:

    I read a lot of books – 126 and counting in 2016. I don’t think I need to read more, but would like to read more intentionally. I have a huge TBR list, but because I don’t always plan ahead I’ll pick up the first thing that catches my eye. So, I end up reading a lot of celebrity memoirs and cookbooks. There’s nothing wrong with celebrity memoirs and cookbooks, but I would like to read some non-fiction that will help me grow as a parent, and as an employee.
    I spent my lunch hour Monday going through my list, and assigned myself 40 non-fiction books, 8 classics, and 5 read out loud chapter books. I split them up into quarterly goals, and wrote it all down so I won’t forget.
    I figure as long as I’m making good progress with my goals there’s no reason to feel guilty about spending the rest of my time on celebrity memoirs, cookbooks, chick lit, and Harry Potter.
    By the way, of all your tips, #5 is the one that keeps me reading the most. Life lesson – never buy a purse that isn’t big enough to hold a paperback!

  5. Whitney says:

    I keep a list on my phone of what I’ve read (and have done so for a few years now) along with a simple rating system (*-ehh,** – liked it, *** – loved it). In previous years, the overall read list is in the 70s or 80s, but this year easily is over 100+ and I see it going higher in 2016. The reason is simple: I have a new job at the public library! I see so many books I want to read – simply being exposed to all the possibilities works wonders.

  6. Karen says:

    I do all of the above except handsfree. When I listen to something, it is podcasts. I am not a speed reader, but was able to read 70+ books this year. Yeah

  7. Jess Townes says:

    Great list, am sharing! I could not agree more with number 4. I have a hard enough time getting through the books I do enjoy, I am not interested in spending any time reading books I don’t like.

    I also plan my reading. Usually the planning is a visible stack of books, one stack for kidlit, one for grown-up fiction and one for non-fiction. I work my way down the stack, though occasionally a strong recommendation from a friend or just an emotional season will bump a book up or down a notch.

  8. Daisy says:

    I don’t think I’ll have trouble reading a lot this coming year. I’ve gotten competitive (with myself) about reading as many books as possible rather than slowing down to enjoy and think about them more. So, for 2016, I’ll still be keeping track of what I’m reading on Goodreads but I won’t join the Reading Challenge until much later in the year so I don’t stress out about how many books I’m behind or if I’m ahead of schedule.

  9. Kendra Decker says:

    I have to say that since I’ve started following your blog my reading as increased exponentially. So thank you for that! 😊 Between your blog, the Books on the Nightstand podcast, book bloggers I follow on Instagram and the Sorta Awesome FB hangout I’m never at a loss for book ideas! This year I set a reading goal on Good Reads of 50 books. I’m trying to finish 2 before tomorrow night (eek! It’s tight!) to get to 60. That reading goal was great accountability (and fun!) so I’m increasing it to 75 this year. I also keep a couple lists of books on Pinterest because I like the visual nature of it. One of my book boards is specifically the books I’d like to get to this year. I likely won’t, (it’s 200+) but it’s fun to think about. Book clubs have also helped. And audiobooks are great motivation to get out for my walks, they go hand in hand with my daily step goal. Thanks for this post. I love everyone’s comments too!

  10. Rachel says:

    I really look forward to the day when I can never leave home without a book–with 2 small kids, I’ve given up on packing a book with me when we leave the house, because in 5 years of parenting, I’ve never once been able to crack one open in a waiting room or line. Someday!

  11. Angela says:

    Are you doing a 2016 Reading Challenge, like the one you had this year? I realized I need to add variety to my reading list because this year, I had mostly books I need/want to read for children’s ministry (my job), and it became overwhelming. I need to read for fun, too.

  12. Kwizgiver says:

    I have recently discovered your website and love it! This post is a great example of what I love–it’s a down to earth and practical approach to reading.

    PS-I friended you on Goodreads. 🙂

  13. Rebecca Webster says:

    Turn off the TV. I will end up watching mindless programs if I don’t make a decision to turn it off. This goes along with setting a time to read. We are only given so many hours each day. I would rather learn something new, or let my imagination run wild reading a book than watch another hour of something I’ve seen before.

  14. Anna says:

    I love to read, and I do it as much as I can. I mostly enjoy fiction, so I have to push myself a little more with my non-fiction. I have a “favorites” section on my Kindle with the books I’m currently reading or want to read soon. Plus I have library wish lists & Amazon wish lists to help me keep track of other things that I don’t own yet but would like to read.

    After trying a few different things, I’ve found that a Pinterest board was the best way for me to keep track of things read. I tried Goodreads & other things and never quite got in the routine.

    • Anne says:

      I love the visual aspect of a pinterest board (although I just deleted my boards like that on pinterest because I’m personally terrible about maintaining them!) Whatever works, works. 🙂

  15. Kelly says:

    Thanks for the tips. I enjoy reading, I just seem to have trouble finding the time. My library has a good selection of audio books that I should look into.

  16. Laurel says:

    Scheduling a time is so key. When I was knee-deep in scholarly books during college, I was disappointed I never had time for fun reading. So I MADE time. Every night, before bed, I gave myself 15 minutes of fun reading (sometimes it lasted longer than that) and I got through several great books even when I felt like I didn’t have time. It was an excellent way to unwind too.
    Oddly, it has instilled a good habit that has continued on past school so that even now, in the midst of busy motherhood, I MAKE time for reading books I enjoy.

  17. I am going to have a LOT od Dr appts this year when I get my cochlear ear implant. Your posts gave me an idea to always have a book with me and to make sure the book is downloaded and ready to go on my Kindle. I bet I can get a lot of reading done waiting on the Drs.

  18. Brenda R says:

    I have always kept a book beside the bathtub and on the nightstand, and in the car…but they have usually been history books and biographies. My resolution this year is to read more popular fiction. My sister got me started with “All the light we cannot see.” Happy New Year!

  19. Kate says:

    Great tips as always! #4 and #5 felt particularly relatable for me. One of my mom’s top pieces of advice is “never leave home without a book in your bag”, since you never know when you might find some time to read: Commute? Friend arriving late? Downloading the Amazon Kindle App on my cellphone makes it more easy, since I can fit a ‘book’ even into the tiniest purse!
    By the way, the comments section is a gift that keeps on giving!

  20. Michelle F. says:

    I try to finish three books a month. I’ve been taking the Good Reads challenge for a few years now. Mostly I read mysteries (cozy and historical). I don’t have a computer at home or e-reader, so no e-books for me. I have tons of printed books, though. I read more than one book at a time but sometimes try to concentrate on one or two so I can finish them! If there’s a book you want to finish but don’t really love, you can always take it slow and read 10 pages a day and eventually you’ll finish it.

  21. Teran says:

    Hi! I have a serious problem! I usually have at least ten books going on at one time and end up taking too long to finish any of them. Or I forget what I’m reading in one book and have to go back and reread the material. Someone will mention a book that I haven’t read and then I add it to the mix. I have to be in a certain mood to read a book, which also adds to the problem. For instance, I am a registered dietitian who works in the field of eating disorders. At any given time I will be reading a book about anorexia/bulimia, binge eating disorders, the brain, photography, Christian fiction, parenting, Spiritual disciplines, devotional, marriage, and another type of fiction. It probably doesn’t help that I work, homeschool, and have narcolepsy. Any advice?

    • Anne says:

      I love reading several books at once but ten is a lot too handle for most people. Many readers choose to only read one book at a time, or two books that are VERY different (e.g., one on binge eating disorders, and one fiction). Would it be possible to cut back on the number of books you read at once?

      • Teran says:

        That’s my problem, and I don’t know anyone else who has this issue. It is frustrating. It sounds so simple, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

  22. gail says:

    My daughter has accelerated reader at school. I get an email when she finishes a test. I wish I had accelerated reader, so I could do a test, and then I’d have this lovely “diary” of the book that I’ve read (opps, and plus my comprehension level…..hmmmm).

    I have an old school car, and wondering how I could get audio books. Maybe old schooling it with books on tape/cd?

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