If it weren’t for the books I’ve read, I wouldn’t have realized
- that my life was slowly passing me by while I was too busy thinking about things that already happened (and I can’t change) or about things that haven’t happened yet (many of which are very unlikely and won’t probably happen, ever) (The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle);
- that I’m not actually responsible for how people feel and that changing yourself just to please others just pushes people away (Not Nice, by Aziz Gazipura);
- that small actions and habits, if performed day after day, make BIG differences as time goes by (The Compound Effect, by Darren Hardy);
- that feeling lost at 25, even after graduating from a prestigious university, doesn’t mean you’re going to be a lost loser forever (Becoming, Michelle Obama);
- and many other valuable lessons I carry with me.
I owe to books how much I’ve grown in the past 3 years.
Before I started reading one book a month, I never read AT ALL. I always wanted to, but I kept trying to love popular books like Harry Potter or A Song of Ice and Fire and that wasn’t cutting it for me.
Then came Sapiens (I read it because my brother forgot his copy at my house and out of boredom I started reading it). And that’s when I realized I liked reading non-fiction! I embarked on a reading journey and found real wisdom I could apply to my own life right away.
Books made me a lot smarter than I used to be. And that comes as no surprise.
Did you know that reading is one of the main habits that separate successful and unsuccessful people?
85% of successful people read two or more self-improvement or educational books per month
– How The Power Of Reading Holds The Key To Success, Sandy Clarke
Plus, according to a 2016 study, people who read experience a 20% reduction in risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow up compared to non-book readers!
Reading is fun AND good for you. However, even though people know that readers are generally smarter, some find it hard to read more than one book a year.
So, here’s my advice to you if you want to make the most of the benefits of reading.
How to read more books
The first thing you have to know is that if you know how to read, then you’ve already done the hardest part of the process of becoming an avid reader.
And the second thing you must know is that there’s no need to be a fast reader in order to read more.
You can be a painfully slow reader and still read a lot if you follow my advice.
The third thing you need to know (this is the last one, I promise) is that you need to make reading part of your DAILY ROUTINE. There lies the secret of avid readers.
1. Read every single day
If you want to read more books and get in the habit of reading (the most wonderful habit if you ask me), then you have to read every. single. day.
Of course, this habit has to adapt to your lifestyle if you want to make it last.
No matter how much you read a day, what’s most important here is that you read every day of your life.
You need to make reading part of your daily routine, remember?
2. Identify what’s stopping you from reading more
Pick up any book you have laying around and start reading it. Commit to reading 10-15 pages at a time. Whenever you find yourself not reading before finishing those pages, take notes of what made you stop.
It could be your phone, your kids, Twitter. Anything.
What’s most important here is that you know what distracts you, so you can avoid it whenever it’s reading time.
A great way to take this little challenge to the next level is to read 30 minutes a day for 21 days straight. If you miss a day, take notes of what happened and how you can prevent that from happening again.
3. Get away from distractions when possible
Will power is great but you can’t rely on it forever.
If you know pretty well that you can’t focus when reading in front of the TV, then stop reading in front of the TV.
Go read somewhere else.
4. Find what you like
Read a lot of different books to find out what you like.
Whatever book makes you feel you’re getting something good out of it, whether it’s knowledge, perspective, curiosity, etc., that’s exactly the kind of book you want to read.
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5. Keep an updated list of books you want to read
If you want to read more books per year, you can’t afford to waste a lot of time looking for what to read next every time you finish a book.
Search for book recommendations in the genre you prefer and make a list. For book recommendations, you can go to:
Every time you hear about a new exciting book, add it to your list.
I highly recommend Trello to keep this list. This is how I organize my books:
Keep in mind that you won’t read them all because some of them won’t be worth your time and you’ll end up not reading them. That means it’s a good idea to have more books on that list than what you’re actually going to read this year.
6. Set up a time to sit and read
For some people, it’s best to read as soon as they wake up. For others, reading before falling asleep works wonders.
You do you and find the best time to devote to your reading.
The trick here is to find that time of the day when you can sit and read every day. That’ll make the habit stick way easier and faster.
So, it’s better to use some habit stacking: place your reading time immediately before or immediately after something else you do EVERY DAY.
7. Set daily goals
You can do this by either setting a minimum amount of pages to read or a minimum amount of time spent reading.
On average, if you read 10 pages a day, you’ll be able to read a whole book in one month.
8. Follow book recommendation sites
I used to follow Amazon’s book recommendations only but then I realized Amazon kept recommending me the same books over and over and they always happened to be the ones that were selling better.
Even then, it’s great to get recommendations from several sources!
9. Get a Kindle
Or any other e-book reader for that matter.
There’s an ongoing debate about whether it’s better to read physical books or digital books.
In my opinion, it’s great to read physical books once in a while. But if you want to read more and get the best out of your reading, then you need to start reading on Kindle. Here’s why:
- you can take your Kindle with you everywhere you go,
- if you want to start reading a book right away, you can purchase your book in seconds without having to go to a bookstore,
- you don’t have to carry heavy books with you,
- you can highlight your favorite parts using Kindle’s amazing highlighting tool that allows you to navigate through the book whenever you want to read your favorite parts again.
And no, I’m not an Amazon representative of any kind. I’m not even on Amazon’s affiliate program. I just love my Kindle.
10. Download Forest app and avoid distractions
I’ve talked about this wonderful app many times before.
By planting a seed in Forest, you’ll watch it gradually grow into a tree. But if you leave the app to use any other app on your phone, then the plant immediately dies and you’ll have to start over again.
With every healthy tree you grow, you earn coins that you can use to buy new tree species.
It’s so much fun to buy new trees and watch your yearly forest grow and become colorful.
Using Forest while you’re reading will help you avoid getting distracted.
11. Use social media to your advantage
Regarding social media, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is avoid it altogether.
But, if you enjoy it a lot, start following book accounts so you see books everywhere. This can act both as a reminder to pick up your book and read and as a good source of book recommendations.
A few of my favorites are:
12. Don’t read more than one book at a time (or do it)
It depends on your personal style. Let me explain.
For me, if I read more than one book at a time, I’ll never finish any of them. That’s just how I am.
Other people, however, like to read more than one book at a time so they have one for every occasion. For example, they like to read fiction during their commute time, sci-fi before going to sleep and romance on weekends. That’s just how they are.
My advice if you belong to the second group is to read different genres at a time so the plot lines and arguments don’t get all mixed up in your head.
Find which one of the two works best for you and stick with whatever you prefer.
There’s no right or wrong here!
13. Share what you read
Find a way to talk about what you’re reading.
This will add another level of excitement to the habit and it’ll help you remember more and learn faster.
Talk to your partner, your sister, your mom. Whoever you talk to regularly and is willing to listen.
If that doesn’t work, go on Twitter or start a blog about books.
But, whatever you do, don’t keep that knowledge to yourself.
14. Use reading to replace bad habits
Want to give up a bad habit like checking Instagram more than you should? Then replace it with your reading time.
You can turn it into a game. For example, every time you check Instagram when it’s not time to check Instagram, you have to read one page or read for 5 minutes straight.
15. Read while you’re waiting
Finding small pockets of time during the day to read is an amazing way to finish more books in less time.
We spend a lot of minutes a day waiting for things to happen.
Waiting for that call? Read.
Waiting for dinner to be ready? Read.
Waiting for the movie to start? Read.
Waiting at the bus station? Read.
This is one of the reasons why it helps so much to have a lightweight ebook reader you can take with you everywhere.
16. If you’re not enjoying that book, stop reading it
This is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard regarding reading more books.
Every book you read by choice has to be a book you enjoy reading.
No matter how much other people praise it, if you don’t like it, don’t read it.
Reading books you don’t like because they’re too boring, shallow, repetitive or simply terrible will, in the long run, make you associate reading time with torture time. And that’s not beneficial for you. AT ALL.
17. Mix up your genres
No matter how much you enjoy a single genre. Chances are that, if you spend a whole year reading the same kind of books over and over, you’ll end up exhausted.
Make sure that list of yours has several genres, so whenever you feel like reading something different, you can have a new book waiting for you to read it.
18. Join reading challenges
If you-re competitive and like to make promises to yourself, then joining reading challenges may be right for you.
Goodreads hosts one of the most popular reading challenges of the web. You can check it out here: Goodreads reading challenge
PopSugar also hosts a reading challenge. Check it out here.
Another fun reading challenge to join is aimlief’s reading challenge!
I challenge you to read a little (or a lot) every day for a year. Pin the following image on Pinterest and you won’t have to worry about keeping your own list of books to read.
- Goodreads’ reading challenge
- PopSugar reading challenge
- Instagram account: Blinkist
- Instagram account: ReadingForGrowth
- Instagram account: GetBetterWithBooks
The bottom line? Reading rocks and you should definitely make it part of your day to day life. Make it one of your hobbies!
It can be as fun (I’d say more fun, actually) as watching TV or checking Instagram.
Make reading a lifestyle; it’s one of the best ways to spend your time and it’s a hobby you will never regret.
If you’re ready to become an avid reader and feel inspired to read a lot, keep in mind that it’s important to be realistic about the goals you set.
That means trying to read 200 books a year when you generally finish one every 6 months will leave you frustrated and unmotivated.
Know yourself and your own reading speed, but most importantly: read every day.
Reading expands your knowledge, your creativity, your imagination.
I generally recommend reading non-fiction, because that’s what works for me on my personal growth journey. I just love to get inside other people’s heads and learn through their experiences and insights.
However, if you like fantasy or any other type of fiction, then read that!
Reading stories, no matter if they’re fake or not, will make you smarter as well. These books make you more creative and imaginative!
“Reading? It isn’t about how many books you go through. It’s about how many books go through you”; I don’t remember where I read that (sorry), but it’s the ultimate truth when it comes to reading.