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. Last year I read a book about healthy eating, and 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.
How to read more this year
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. Get inspired with the Reading Challenge. As we tell participants, planning is everything—even if you don’t stick to the plan, it’s a great starting point.
Make your library requests, borrow from a friend, download those ebooks 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 instead of giving it the leftovers. 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.
If you only do one thing, make it this? 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, Storygraph, a moleskine, or My Reading Life: A Book Journal. Bonus points for star ratings, etc., but a simple list of titles is better than nothing.
4. Quit it.
DNFing is the single best thing you can do for your reading life. 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. Keep ebooks on your phone with Overdrive or the 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.
(Pro tip: make sure these books feel different to you. Don’t read two thrillers at the same time; read one thriller and one book about Polar exploration. That way you won’t confuse the characters—unless, as sometimes happen for me, the two books merge to create very interesting dreams.)
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 Libro.fm (2 audiobooks for the price of 1) or Audible (free trial) a try. For inspiration check out this list of favorite titles.
Are you resolved to read more? Tell us your go-to tips and strategies in comments.