7 simple ways to read more this year.

These simple tips will help you find more time to read and help make this your best reading year yet.

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.

What to read? Inspiration is everywhere! Check out the MMD book lists, the Indie Next list, and your local bookstore for starters.

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. 

P.S. How I find time to read, and what you should be reading to relax before bed.

read more this year


Leave A Comment
  1. Great tips. I will read more this year! I was just shy of my goodreads goal last year, but this year I want to manage it 🙂 I want to start the year right, by building better reading habits, so I’ve done what you said above: planned reading time every day. To help me, I made a challenge and invited everyone to join me, I know I do better with accountability 😀 Everything is more motivating when you do it together! 🙂

  2. Michelle says:

    Great tips all around! In addition, I did something new when planning for this year: I listed “reader” as one of my roles for the roles/goals organizing; that way every week I’ll check in with myself specifically on my reading:-)

  3. Meg Longley says:

    Hi Anne! Great tips! Love love your podcast.
    About tracking books– I know you mentioned Goodreads. I wanted to mention LibraryThing, which I absolutely love! Easy to use, and they also give recommendations. Between you and LT, I always have something to read next!
    Happy New Year, happy reading, and thanks for all you do–it’s very much appreciated!

  4. Thanks for the tips! Sometimes I feel like reading too many books at once is a bad strategy because it takes me longer to complete one full book, but I love that you recommended it here. As long as reading is fun and it works for you, it doesn’t matter how you do it!

  5. Heather says:

    This year my goal is to actually read less! Last year I read a total of 94 books, which is almost double what I normally read and I felt like that didn’t leave much room for other things in my life. This year I plan to read about 50 (which is still a high number for most people) and with my extra time learn how to do some new things :).

  6. Erica says:

    Inspired by your blog, I started tracking my reading for the first time in 2016. I had a general goal to read more, but nothing specific. I read 68 books in 2016, and hope to read at least that many this year. In addition to tracking the books I’ve read and rating them on a scale of 1-5, I’ll also be including the number of pages per book, as well as a brief summary of the plot. When looking back over my list from 2016, I realized I couldn’t remember anything about a couple of the books I had read!

  7. Great post! I find that I read more than most people, but less than others. It helps keep me sane. I believe reading is one of the most important things you can do for your brain, so keep it up!

  8. Rhonda says:

    Always #5 and #6. I like to keep a book in the car for waiting periods (I’m usually early), and downstairs (because, two story house), and even in my purse/bag (so it’s always there).

  9. L.B. says:

    I find talking with others about books makes me want to read more books. The best people to talk to…My 8th grade students. I tell them what I am reading and they tell me what they are reading and we challenge each other to read more or different things.

  10. Karen says:

    My goal is to read fewer books in 2017.
    As my number of books read in 2016 came close to my goal by June, I began to stop reading longer books to “keep my numbers up”. This year, I want to go back and catch so,e of those books I bypassed because they were too long!
    But I have to admit, it’s really fun to kick your goal out of sight by doubling it once in a while!

  11. Tania says:

    I like how you treansferred the idea from dieting to reading, makes good sense. I will definitely try some of your strategies. BTW, I have signed up for your reading challenge ?

  12. Jeanette says:

    Thanks for the tips. Reading more is always on my list of goals and keeping it simple helps. Your tips #6 & #7 are two that I incorporated into my plan in 2016. One that I’m going to get better at doing is #3 (tracking). I’ve learned to finish reading the books I haven’t read on my shelf before adding too many new ones. Taking on a reading challenge such as yours has been a big help.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for reminding everyone about using their Library!! I know people love to buy and own books but never neglect your library!

  14. I find that I read a lot, it’s just that much of the quality is meh (think the same magazine stories on air popped pop corn or some such). So one thing I’ve done new is get the Kindle app on my phone and start reading books on there. I always have my phone with me, and I often spend bits of time reading headlines or social media anyway, so now I can read something better. I’m halfway through my second book in four days using that method (which probably says something about my scrolling, but there we go). Also, I’ve realized that reading should be fun, so unless I’ve been assigned to review it, I should really want to read it. This is somewhat in tension with my realization that so much of my reading was already meh, but I’ve now got a new mantra: is it more think-y than an article on air-popped pop corn? Then it’s fine.

  15. Cynthia says:

    I ALWAYS have a book on CD from the library going in my car! It adds an extra 2 books to my goal every month and I get bestsellers faster on cd from the library than the hardcover version

  16. R. Gadsden says:

    Number 6 is my favorite because I have five book apps on my tablet and at this moment, I am reading four books at one time.

  17. Cori says:

    As an audiobook fanatic, let me recommend two of my favorite sources, both available from my local library: Overdrive and Playaways. Overdrive lets you download free ebooks and audiobooks online through the library website. I also love borrowing Playaways. https://shop.playaway.com/ These handy audiobook players can be tucked into your pocket so that you can cook, clean, garden, walk, and do all manner of chores without sacrificing precious reading time. The entire book is inside a gadget the size of a pack of playing cards. Plug in your earphones and you’re away! I don’t need to drag my CD player from room to room anymore while I clean. These nifty gadgets actually make me look forward to doing chores! 🙂

  18. Melissa says:

    I love the tip on reading different types of books at the same time. I always thought I could never read more than one at a time…turns out, I can if they are different!

  19. Karrie says:

    I increased my reading last year and I have to say it is partly due to you! I am following your daily kindle sale list. I have been a lifelong reader, but so many of my favorite local bookstores have closed and my local library has consequently had an increase in patrons which makes the wait for books longer. I have a kindle but used it little. Now I regularly watch for books on my to be read list to appear on your sale notification or book bub and load them on my kindle. I am reading so much more my husband purchased a second device and has joined me!

  20. JennyOH says:

    Agree 100% with all these tips. I started doing Goodreads’ Reading Challenge a few years ago and seeing throughout the year how far I had progressed towards my planned total number of books was a good goose to get me to up my reading. I have also started giving myself permission to quit books I’m not enjoying.

    For me, the biggest aid to reading more has been relying on my library system’s online catalogue. Like many, it not only allows me to have a wishlist and to place my own holds on books, but it lets me schedule those holds, so that I typically have a book or two scheduled to arrive for me every week or so for at least six months out. This means I don’t even have to think about what I’m going to read next, or miss reading time because I’m waiting for a book to arrive at the library or for a chance to go buy something new.

  21. Sheryl says:

    Starting last year I have 2 books going at once all the time. One on my kindle and one on audio. I use an app from our local library for audiobooks so I listen on my phone all the time and keep a set of headphones nearby in case I don’t have my kindle with me when I’m eating alone or waiting for an appointment. I mainly use WSIRN to build my huge TBR list, but I more than doubled the number of books I read this year.

  22. knowyourkids says:

    Thank you so much for the tips, I really like no 4 – i always feel the need to finish a book even if I am npt enjoying it. The more I hear it is ok not finish it, the closer I get to abandoning a book! I started scheduling time to read a chapter a night mid way through the year and it has made a real difference to my reading life. I was in the habit of checking my phone before bed and in the morning, which led to me reading articles on my threads and disappearing down rabbit holes. Now I feel more in control of my reading life, it is more pleasurable and I have finished nearly double the books I read last year.

  23. Camila B. says:

    Hey, this is my first time on your page and I’m having a great time reading so many good posts. Ugh! Where were you two years ago when I barely managed to read three books? I have to say that my favorite tip of these is the one about keeping a book with you everywhere you go because that’s honestly the main solution i found to my big reading slumps is to have an available book all the time with me. That’s how I got through my reading challenge (60 books) last year. You have a new faithful follower in me, I even started listening to your podcast. Sending you a hug from Colombia! <3

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