As you have probably learned from social media, it is in fact no longer 2021. (It’s 2022!) This means that people are trying to set all sorts of lofty goals for the New Year, and one pretty common goal is… to read more books.
Making a habit of reading is never a bad thing… so, as you likely have deduced from the title of this post, today I’m going to be giving 8 tips on how to read more books this year. Reading is one of my main hobbies, but my years of struggling to manage that sweet Goodreads goal with all of my other stuff have taught me a few things.
How To Read More Books
1) Prioritize reading over other forms of entertainment
If you are serious about starting to read more, it’s logical that you’re going to have to sacrifice other ways of spending your free time.
There are only 24 hours in the day, after all, so to free up more time for reading, you’re probably going to have to cut down on time you spend on things like social media, YouTube, Netflix, video games, or watching TV.
Obviously you don’t have to cut these other things out of your life (and if you enjoy them, you really shouldn’t cut them out of your life) but if you’re not currently in the habit of reading, you will likely need to adjust your routine to accommodate the new hobby.
Try setting time limits on your phone apps or watch time, especially if, like me, you are prone to the Reddit doom-scroll or the YouTube memes hypnosis.
2) Use a reading tracker to motivate yourself
There are several different apps that people use to track their reading, find new books, and stay accountable to their goals.
These are not the only reading trackers, but they are the two most common. On these apps/websites, you can set reading goals, add books to your virtual bookshelves, and connect with other people to see what they’re reading. I use Goodreads, and it has been a great resource for keeping me accountable to my reading goals– plus, the dopamine hit of adding a book to your read shelf is just *chef’s kiss*
3) Have a system for easily obtaining books
If you want to keep up your reading momentum, it’s important to be able to quickly transition from one book to the next.
It’s good to have a system in place to quickly obtain books.
Maybe fit a trip to the library into your weekly routine, or download a bunch of ebooks on your Kindle. For me, this system is the Libby app, with which I can borrow and download library ebooks easily. I try to have as many books on hold as possible, so that I always have one become available when I need something to read.
A lot of people buy every book they read, but I don’t think this is the most efficient choice– you choose how you spend your money and it’s good to support authors you love, but reading doesn’t need to be an expensive hobby. Get a library card, use Project Gutenberg, Kindle Unlimited, etc.– I promise it’s worth it.
4) Read books you like and abandon the ones you’re struggling to finish
This is a somewhat counterintuitive tip that I simply refused to follow for years, but recently I’ve come to the conclusion that the law of DNF is one of the most effective ways to read more.
Unless you’re reading the book for school (alas!), if you’re struggling to find the motivation to finish a book, it might be worth it to simply put it down for a while and try something new. Don’t try to force yourself through it. Trust me, nothing sucks away your enthusiasm for reading faster than hating every moment of the book you’re currently trying to finish. Every time I force myself through a book that I dislike, it causes me to go into a slump to end all slumps (thanks, Heart of Darkness for ruining my October)
Instead, take a break and try reading something else for a while. You can always come back to the original book when you’re more in the mood for it, and in the long run you’ll end up reading more without throwing yourself into a pit of quickly-dissipating motivation.
5) Set aside long blocks of time for reading
This one might just be a me thing, but I find that I read the most when I set aside a long chunk of time for reading and am able to finish a book in one or two sittings. When I try reading a book spread over a few days– or a few weeks– I quickly lose interest in the story and feel like I’m making no progress at all.
During the school year, I often read nothing on weekdays and then binge on Saturday. This is what’s most effective for me, since I process best when I finish a book in effectively one sitting.
6) Have a running ‘TBR’ of book recommendations
A TBR– or “to be read” list is one of the most important constructs in any bookworm’s life. You can make yourself a very structured TBR, an ordered list of books you are going to read this year, or, like me, you can have a very un-structured TBR that’s more like a LLOBIWRSMBTSG– “Long List of Books I Will Read Someday Maybe Because They Sound Good”
How do you find these books? There are several ways– and in fact I’ve written a whole post on it. You can follow book blogs (like this one, maybe….? Hm?), you can use social media, you can be an intellectual and read your way through the classic lit canon– the Internet is at your fingertips and it’s full of vast reserves of book recommendation knowledge!
7) Use Audiobooks– they count!
Some people consider audiobooks cheating… I don’t. Audiobooks can be a great way to increase the number of books you “read”, and they are great to listen to on commutes or while cleaning. So go on, ditch Spotify and listen to a book!
8) Reduce task friction
Reducing task friction is always a crucial part of forming a new habit. What it means is purposefully having a system in place to minimize the steps needed to start a task and thus make it harder to procrastinate. For example: if you want to read more in 2022, bring a book around with you everywhere you go and keep them around the house. That way, all you have to do is open the book to start working on your goal.
If instead you kept all of your books hidden in your drawer somewhere, it would take a lot more effort to get yourself to read and make it easier for you to procrastinate.
What are your strategies for reading more? Do you like to set reading goals? Let me know in the comments!
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