I’ve often been asked how I manage to read 500-600 books in a year. So I thought I would do a quick post listing some of the reasons that make me able to read so much. They might not work for everyone, but I suggest giving them a try! Trying something new is often helpful. 🙂
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- Check the Book Before You Start to Read.
Aka, read reviews on Goodreads & Amazon. Even if your friends haven’t read it, check the other reviews. Sometimes some of them will mention something that’ll make you go “Okay, thanks, no way I’m reading THAT now.” I like to check 1-, 2-, & 3-star reviews first, then 5- and 4-star reviews. A “good” review may be praising something that you’ll really hate. If your friends only left a rating, maybe ask them for specifics!
Also, check the book itself. Make sure to read the synopsis (I know, I’m guilty of skipping it too…). And check INSIDE the book for sensitive words. I like to look up “kiss” and “s*x” and other words like that, just so I can see how much romance there is and how it’s written, and what things are mentioned. Stuff like that.
Yes, I know there are some books that end up getting better. So for that reason, sometimes instead of dropping a book completely, I just do a quick skim-read. That’s usually enough to tell me a) okay, I ended up liking it and would like to do a proper reading of it, or b) it’s absolutely worthless. And if you get to a part where you know that no matter what good things happen next, this part will make you rate it 2 stars or really hate it or not want to recommend it… just DNF it.
- Do Not Finish (aka DNF).
It. is. okay. to. quit. reading. It is perfectly okay. In fact, I think it’s smart. Because a) the book is bad and you shouldn’t be poisoning your mind with it; or b) it’s not your cuppa tea and that’s okay. Why waste your time on something you’re not enjoying where there are SO many good books out there you could be reading instead? And it’s fine to DNF at 10%… or 25%… or 50%… or 75%. You know when it’s time to stop. Listen to yourself.
- Push Through Slumps.
Okay, so now we get to actual reading, haha. Reading slumps are a real thing, I know. There are times you just don’t feel like reading ANYTHING. TV shows and Pinterest are not the answer. XD It only makes you feel unproductive and lazy and increases your slump and continues the cycle. The way through is to power through. I know, it’ll suck for the first 10% and then you’ll probably break through and feel SO good. 😉
- Alternate Your Reading.
Go back and forth in genres. Exciting and calm. Fiction and nonfiction. WWII and medieval. Whatever. Alternating keeps your interest in genres. Reading five WWII in a row makes you kinda sick of WWII for a while and can even make you fall into a slump. Besides, it’s a good way to read a book you don’t feel like reading! Read it and then read a really anticipated read. XD Or if you just read a beautiful, amazing book, and feel like you’re in a hopeless slump again because nothing is as good… a favourite reread is a good idea.
- Have a List of Books You Want to Read This Year/Season/Month, etc.
Having a list of what you intend/want to read is a great idea. The more detailed, the better. That way you don’t waste time wondering, “What should I read next?” You’ve got your list and can blaze through it. It also helps you keep track of the ARCs or review reads you need to read so you’re not caught with a 415-page book you need to read and review before tomorrow. (Remember to ADD the ARCs/review reads to your list though. XD)
Also, having a backup list in case five or six of your original books get knocked off your list because of a content review on Goodreads is very helpful so you’re not left with a gaping hole in the middle of your month’s reading list.
However, the list isn’t supposed to become a chain. If you let it become that, it’ll throw you into a slump. You can even totally ditch your old list and rewrite a brand-new one if you like. And…
- Be willing to drop books sometimes.
Sometimes you start a book and you’re just not in the mood. It’s not awful, and you’ll probably like it… but not right now. And that’s fine. Put it aside for later. You don’t have to push through, you don’t even have to mark it as begun or DNFed or anything. Just leave it for later and move on to something you ARE in the mood to. Similarly…
- Read Books You’re in the Mood To.
It’s okay to rearrange your list a little. It’s okay to totally leave your list and read that new book you just got and REALLY want to read. You’ll probably blaze through and be able to add another to your shining total in a few hours. 🙂
- Read More Than One Book at Once.
This really works for me. I know it doesn’t for others, but I strongly encourage you to try. By bouncing back and forth, you don’t get bored out by one book. You can also put one down when you need a break because it hurts or it’s too intense, and pick up your other read instead (which I suggest ought to be pretty different from the first read—like Nancy Drew and Little Women). I often have 10-15 books going at once, and that often spurs me to read because I want to get ONE finished at least! Haha. I also often read one ebook, one physical book, and one online book at the same time. The different mediums help switch things up when I want a change.
Also, just a FYI—small books and short stories totally count, ’kay?
- Read in Pockets of Time.
This is a big one. Got 5 minutes waiting for someone to run to the store? Read. It’s 9:25 and you’re tired but don’t exactly want to go to bed yet? Pick up a good paperback and read. (A word of caution: DO NOT pick up one you think will grip you. Pick up one you know you can put down when it’s bed time. Unless you’re one of those superior beings who do that anyways). In the car for an hour and a half? Read. If you keep your eyes opened, you’ll be surprised how many little pockets of time you can find to read in.
- Have a Book/eReader Always Available.
Ooo, yes! That’s a big one. I carry my Kindle with me everywhere, even on errands. And when I don’t have the Kindle, I have my phone with its Kindle app. Or an actual physical book. (I don’t recommend transporting physical books, unless you’re an amazingly carful person and have no little siblings. Or maybe if you have a booksleeve.) Be sure to always have your books downloaded on the Kindle or the Kindle app, and you’re good to go!
- Have a RAP (or Buddy-Read/Group Read, etc).
A buddy-read is when two or three people read the same book at the same time, often discussing it. Group reading is when five+ people read the same book at the same time. A RAP is a reading accountability partner. My friends Abi & Lisa explained that in these two posts: 5 Reasons to Have a RAP (Reading Accountability Partner) and How to Find a Quality Reading Accountability Partner. Whichever way you choose to go, it’s often very helpful to have someone to talk to about the book or to encourage you to keep going or to cheer you for reaching your goal, etc. Joining the bookstagram community or the Goodreads community can also be an awesome option! Accountability is often very helpful. 🙂 Also, it’s often helpful to tackle an intimidating book (say, Jane Austen or Winston Churchill or a book you’re afraid to read for whatever reason) with a partner and go at it slowly and surely. I will be doing a couple posts soon on buddy-reading and group reading. I don’t have a RAP right now, so I can’t write about it, but again, those two posts are basically complete.
- Practise Reading Fast.
This is a biggie. I am a fast reader. Not bragging here, just stating a fact. I am a fast reader, and that’s just how it is. You train yourself to be a fast reader by… reading fast. XD Seriously. Read fast, and your brain will adjust and learn to read as fast as your eyes do.
(Side note: I highly recommend reading How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren. It’s very helpful for learning how to read well and effectively.)
Audiobooks FTW, you guys! Seriously. Librivox is awesome, and so is Audible, and I believe there are other free/subscribing audiobooks apps/websites out there. It’s so awesome to pop in some earbuds and listen to your latest read while folding three baskets of laundry or washing dishes or taking a walk or sitting in the car.
- Read Widely.
I kinda tapped into that already, but I’ll mention it from another angle. Read widely of genres and themes and settings and so forth. Not only is that good for you, your character, but it’s good for your reading. The more genres you try and enjoy, the more books you have at your disposal, and the more you have to pick and choose from instead of always being limited to one genre, and you enjoy your books more for being so different. At the same time…
- Know What You Love.
If you have a history of disliking romance (*coughs*), quit picking up so many romances. If you love WWII, gravitate to WWII when you need a comfort read. If you love sibling stories, keep your eyes open for them and read that instead of the yucky paranormal you just DNFed. These are just examples, but I think you get what I mean. If you know what you tend to love and not love, you can avoid books you’re 99% sure you’ll dislike and focus on the ones you’re 99% sure you’ll enjoy. Keep an open mind—be willing to try new genres and authors, or try a certain genre/author again, but be wise and don’t waste time and energy on books you KNOW you’ll hate.
- Set Goals & Challenge Yourself.
That may not work if you’re not competitive or stick-to-the-rules like me. But try! Setting a goal to read so many pages a day, or so many chapters a week, or 1 or 2 chapters a day is really helpful (and more concrete, as well as more flexible, than “finish this book today.”) Doing a reading challenge is also really helpful, whether it’s one you think up yourself (“read a mystery a month”) or one you get from someone else (there are lots of Pinterest—here’s a board I’ve created of them—as well as an annual one over at ReadAnotherPage.com). And I have a group on Goodreads where I post my reading challenge, and my friend Andrea created one too. But…
- Be Flexible.
It’s okay to miss a day—or a week. Or more. Beating yourself up will just put you in a slump. Be flexible. You can’t read 2 chapters today? Do one. Or 1 ½. Do 5 pages instead of 15. On the other hand, if you got a lot of time today, try to read 4 chapters instead of 2, or 100 pages instead of 15. Learn to go easy on tough days and challenge yourself on days when you have more time/opportunity. There’s no shame in playing catch-up or reading more than normal because you are really hooked.
- Make it Easier to Focus.
Listening to instrumental music helps block out the surrounding noise. Curling up with a blanket gets you into the “let’s be cozy and relax” mood. Having a specific “reading spot” can switch your brain into “reading mode.” Having a designated “reading time” can also do this. Eating is often helpful so you don’t get distracted by the food in the book and go searching for a snack. XD Having your chores/work/school done so you don’t feel guilty helps your mind settle down. Having a full water-bottle/mug close at hand prevents you from having to get up. Little things like that. Make it so you can settle down and not have to get up. Limit distractions. Focus your mind on what you’re doing so you don’t end up reading the same page 5 times because you’re trying to text a friend. With that in mind…
- Make Time.
It basically comes down to choosing to make reading important. I believe it is important. It’s not a life-or-death matter, of course, and shouldn’t be prioritized above family or work or God or anything like that. But it’s an important thing in your life. It’s good for you and your brain and your body and your character and your opinions and your lifestyle and…. yeah. Much more so than Pinterest or TV or a game on your phone. So choose to make reading important and prioritize your time. Maybe that means giving up scrolling Instagram for meme accounts. Or not mindlessly eating chocolate and watching funny cat videos on YouTube. Your time goes to the things you prioritize, so decide how much you’ll prioritize reading. Choose what you’ll cut or remove from your day. Have a good schedule and stick to it. Do your work well ahead of time so you have time to sit down and read in the evening instead of having to redo your old task.
- Systemize Your Reviewing.
This is a MUST if you are a reviewer. Have a system and STICK TO IT! I wrote a post about my system here and I will probably rewrite it sometime soon, since its changed some. But it’s basically the same. Have a system for my reviewing means I know how much I’ve read, what needs to be reviewed, what needs to have an updated review later on, and if I need to stop reading and write some reviews. XD
Also, review ASAP. I now tend to write my reviews the day after I read a book, so that I have time to think about it but not forget the content (or the story itself haha). Some days I stack up reviews and then write them all + get the quotes on the same day. It depends how my week goes. If you read 7-10 books a week, you will find that you will quickly forget what’s in a book even if you adored it. 😉
ALSO: make sure to keep atop of those review reads/ARCs. Read them first so that they’re out of the way and done and you can move on. Keep track of the blogging tour/bookstagram tour schedules or the deadline for your review.
- Don’t Stress; Have Fun.
Reading is supposed to be helpful & enjoyable, not a burden. You don’t “have” to read those books. Nobody will think less if you don’t read 80 books in a month. Letting it become a task often drives you into a slump.
Reading well and much comes down to being disciplined. But that discipline also extends to how you view reading. Is it an enjoyable opportunity to expand yourself & your mind, or a drudgery you self-imposed in order to seek validation or importance?
How you view reading impacts how you read dramatically.