8 Ways to Read More

Last week, I posted my Quarterly Reading Post, which listed all 46 books I read during the first six months of 2012. Since then, I’ve had more than a handful of people ask how I’m able to read so much (while also writing and living a life and blah blah blah).


Compared to some people (*cough*book bloggers*cough*), I don’t feel like I read all that much, and no matter how many books I read, I always wish there was time for more. (Srsly, WHY does the TBR list never get any SHORTER?) But that aside, here are some methods I use to read as much as I can, whether it seems like a lot to you or not.


1) Don’t worry about being a slow reader.

You do NOT have to speed-read in order to read a lot. In actuality, I am a painfully slow reader. According to the Staples Reading Speed Test, I read slower than the average 11th-grader. Which is fine by me. I’ve always known that I wasn’t a fast reader, comparatively speaking, and speed isn’t important. What matters much more is that you’re enjoying the book.

Which brings us to:


2) Read stuff you enjoy.

I know, we all want to be well-read in the classics, and your best friend loaned you that one book because she was sure you’d LOVE it, and that super popular series is getting made into  a movie soon, so it’s your responsibility as a Book Person to read it before seeing it in theaters. I get all that. But really—life is short, and awesome books are being published every day. Why torture yourself by reading something you don’t really care about?


(Note: I’m not saying that a reader shouldn’t explore and experiment, but if you give it a shot and it isn’t working for you, set it aside and pick up something you’re excited for. You’re not going to be quizzed on it later, so why not?)


3) Buy an e-reader.

Okay, don’t throw sticks at me. I love physical printed books as much as the next person and I still prefer to buy them when possible. But my e-reader (I have a nook, if anyone cares) has had two great benefits: 1. It allows me to have many books at my disposal anywhere in the world, which has become invaluable, especially since I travel so much these days. And 2. If there’s a book I’m dying to read, I can buy it right now, without having to run to the store for it. When I was writing my Top 5 Books for NPR last year, I read about 12 books over a single week, to make sure I’d hit as many of the year’s highlights as I could. This would not have been possible without an e-reader.


4) Don’t underestimate small chunks of time.

I know, some people simply can’t read in small chunks of time. Some people simply need to lose themselves in a book for an hour or more, or else they forget what happened and can’t stay focused. But I am not that way. I read when I’m filling my gas tank. I read while standing in line. I read while waiting for water to boil or the oven to heat up. You might be surprised how all the little idle minutes add up.


5) But don’t feel bad carving out large chunks of time, either.

I’ve discovered that many would-be readers have guilt issues. If you sit in bed all morning just to finish a book, that must mean you’re lazy. To which I say: fiddle dee dee! As a writer, I consider reading an important part of my occupation. I need to read to stay current, inspired, and motivated. It’s a totally productive way to spend a morning/afternoon/weekend. But even if you don’t have the writer excuse, remember that reading makes you a calmer, happier, more interesting person. It also helps prevent Alzheimer’s. See? Totally productive.


6) Multi-task with audiobooks.

I personally struggle with audiobooks. I love the idea of them, but I’ve found that my mind wanders when I listen to one and I miss large chunks of the story. However, I know lots of readers that swear by them, and if they work for you, they can be a reader’s life-saver. Think of all the time spent driving, especially if you have a long commute. Or, or—while taking a bath! While doing housework! While gardening! You can be reading all the time! Gosh, I’m jealous of audiobook listeners.


7) Or just multi-task at the gym.

So if you’re like me and haven’t caught the audiobook bug, that doesn’t mean you’ll never be a multi-tasking reading machine. I frequently combine reading with going to the gym. Admittedly, sometimes the only way I can convince myself to go at all is by the promise of a good book. (I can read on any cardio machine, but if you get motion sick easily, I suggest starting with the stationary bike.)


8) Make reading a nightly tradition.

Almost every night, about an hour before bedtime, I shut down my computer and read. Sometimes it’s in the quiet bedroom, other times it’s on the living room couch while my husband watches TV, but it’s almost every night. It helps settle my thoughts before going to sleep, and I find that I start to get cranky if I skip my nightly reading hour too many nights in a row. If you find yourself drifting off to sleep when you read at night—so what? It’s better than falling asleep to the TV, isn’t it?



So there are my tips for squeezing more reading time into your busy life. How do you make time to enjoy reading?