One of the questions I get asked the most, both on my blog and in real life is: “how do you read so much?” If I’m being completely honest, the main answer is that I have no life. I say that only partly joking. But, seriously, I am most likely sitting at home with a book while everyone else is out doing exciting things. In the words of Neil Gaiman, “I have lived in books more than I lived anywhere else.”
But all jokes aside, I do read a lot. Last year, I read 172 books. All while running this blog (which is probably more work than you think) and working a full-time job. And I have learned some tips and tricks to increase the amount I’m able to read. Hopefully some of these methods work for you, and you can fit more books into your life.
Listen to Audiobooks
You all know how much I love audiobooks. But, if you’d asked me about them five years ago, I would have said they’re not really my thing. What changed? I had an hour+ commute to work each day. Which meant I was spending a minimum of two hours in the car, five days a week. So, instead of being annoyed for ten hours and feeling like I was wasting so much time, I tried audiobooks. And you know what? Reading or learning something while I was stuck in traffic made it feel a lot less awful. But that also meant I could finish a whole extra book every week (I’ve since upgraded to speeding up audiobooks, which means I can finish even more in the same amount of time).
Finding Time to Listen to Audiobooks
Audiobooks don’t just work for awful commutes. You will be surprised by how much time you have to listen to audiobooks while doing things that would prevent you from reading a physical book (I have entire posts on When to Listen to Audiobooks and Self-Care You Can Do While Listening to Audiobooks). Basically, any time you’re using your hands to do something that doesn’t require all your brain power (like washing the dishes), you can also be listening to audiobooks. Just imagine how much more you can read if you can read while cleaning your house or playing Animal Crossing?
Always Have a Book With You
Now, you don’t have to pull a Rory Gilmore and bring a bag with just a single book in it. But you can still always have reading material. How you ask? On your phone. Now, I know reading on your phone isn’t really the best thing ever. It’s not my favorite way to read, either. But how else am I supposed to fit thousands of books literally in my pocket?
We all spent a lot of time waiting. In the wise words of Janet, “Humans only live 80 years, and they spend so much of it just waiting for things to be over.” (If you don’t watch The Good Place, what are you even doing? Seriously, put that book down and get on Netflix RIGHT NOW.) But the point is, we spent A TON of time waiting for things (to be over or to start or whatever). So, you can be reading that book on your phone while you’re doing the waiting. You can read in the waiting room at the doctors office, or in the drive through car wash, or waiting for the friend that’s always late to dinner (all of which I have done). Sure, you might look like you’re always on your phone, but you’ll feel more accomplished than if you were just scrolling through Twitter (again).
Get Those Ebooks for Cheap (or Free!)
You can actually get a lot of ebooks for free or almost free. Try Kindle Unlimited – you don’t need a Kindle, you can download the app on your phone – or use Overdrive to borrow them from your library. And check out the deals on your favorite ebook app (Apple Books tends to have a lot of great books for only a few dollars). You can also read pretty much any classic either online or download the ebook for free, so this might be a great excuse to finally read Moby Dick.
Don’t waste time reading dumb articles in the dentist’s office when you can be reading a book on your phone. Bonus: when you’re reading in bed, dropping your phone on your face hurts a lot less than dropping a hardcover (trust me, I once got a fat lip from The Lord of the Rings).
Read Multiple Books at The Same Time
I am a hardcore mood reader. If I’m not in the mood for that amazing fantasy book, I’m not really going to enjoy it, no matter how good it is. And even though I absolutely love reading nonfiction, sometimes it’s hard to get through. Enter: book number two. Not in the mood for your current read right this second? That’s fine. Just pick up something else (I promise this doesn’t count as cheating on your first book). I’ve been known to have six books going at once, which means I have learned a few tips to do this most effectively.
Try Different Formats
This works very well with the last tip. If I have multiple books going at once (which I almost always do), I try to vary the formats. For example, I almost always have an audiobook going for when I’m in the car. And then an ebook for when I want to hide the fact that I’m reading all day at work. And then I have a physical book to read at home. All of these formats work for different occasions, and having multiple books in different formats ensures that you can pretty much always be reading. You can pick up whichever format is most convenient at the moment, and you’ll end up reading a lot more.
Make Sure the Books are Different
Imagine reading The Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games at the same time. After a while, they might start to blend together a little bit in your head. But if you read The Hunger Games and, say, Pride and Prejudice, at the same time, you probably won’t have that problem. A typical situation for me is a biography or science book on audio, a contemporary romance ebook, and maybe a fantasy hardcover. It’s kind of hard to mix those up. And they’re different enough that I can just choose whichever one I’m in the mood for at that moment, because I will probably be in the mood for at least one of them.
Basically, listen to audiobooks whenever you can get away with it, always have a book on your phone so you can read when you’re waiting for anything (or are bored at work), and have a few different books going at the same time so you can read whatever you’re in the mood for in whichever format is most convenient at the time.
These are the reading habits that have made the biggest difference how I’m able to read so many books. I am basically always reading. All the time. Now I just need to figure out a way to read while I’m sleeping….
If you’ve found any helpful tips for reading more, share them in the comments!