There are so many books being released every day, and personally, my list of books to be read is massively long. I know that I will likely never read everything I want to read, but I do my best to get to them. I have even learned one of the hardest lessons any reader faces: how to quit a book I’m not enjoying. But that’s a post for another day.
As writers, it is critical for us to read books in and out of our genre. We need to know what is being published in our chosen genre, what is selling, and what readers want. But you may wonder how you can possibly fit more books into your busy schedule.
Or maybe you’re not even a writer. You’re an avid reader who has no idea how to get to all the abundance of books you want to read. Maybe it takes you a while to finish a book, or maybe your list is just so long you don’t even know where to start.
Whichever group you fall into, I have three simple tricks that have helped me to read more books per year. Just last year, I read a total of 72 books, and I am on track to match, if not beat, that number this year.
Here’s how I did it.
1. Always have a book with you.
This one may seem a bit obvious, but it’s true. The easiest way to find time to read is by having the material available whenever you find yourself with a spare moment.
Now, I know it can be hard to carry a hulking hardcover everywhere you go. Or even juggle multiple books if you’re almost finished with one.
But here’s a helpful hint: install an ereader app on your phone, whichever one you like. I mean, you carry that thing around with you all the time, right? Most of us do. Whenever you find yourself with a dull moment or waiting for a friend or bus or train, pull out your phone and start reading your e-book-in-progress.
For me, I discovered this because of all the awkward incubation times while I’m working in the lab. There is no point in taking off your lab gear when you have five minutes of waiting time. By the time you make it back to your desk, you just have to go right back. So while I sit in the lab waiting for incubations or time points to complete, I read a book! It keeps me from getting bored, and I get to make progress on my yearly reading goals and enjoy a fresh new story.
2. Make the most of your time.
Another great way to increase the books you read is to start listening to audiobooks while you commute, clean, walk, or do other mindless work. Again, looking to my lab experience, I once ran an experiment for two months that required me to pay attention to something for four-five hours every morning. But it was absolutely mindless work, tedious and boring, so I downloaded audiobooks and listened to fifteen books in the course of those two months.
Another great time to use them is while you commute. Chances are if you’re driving, walking, or otherwise paying attention to where you’re headed, you can’t really look at a book. But you can listen. Instead of listening to music or the news every day, invest that time in a few books. And you can of course take breaks between books, go back to your music or news stations, but this is an easy way to rack up those pages!
If you decide (like me) that an audiobook subscription service just isn’t worth your money, there are alternatives. Many audiobooks are available online for free. Additionally, check with your local library. The Free Library of Philadelphia works with the Overdrive app so that you can borrow e-books and audiobooks without ever stepping foot inside a branch. One bonus of this app: no late fees. Books are automatically returned at the end of the loan period, and you can extend your loan straight from the app. Borrowing is also extremely helpful if you want to try a book or author before you buy anything.
3. Don’t be afraid to read more than one book at a time.
By using multiple formats of books, you can read multiple works at once. For example, I read a hard copy of a book at all times. I bring it with me to work, I read it at home or on trips, I love the feel of having it in my hands. But I also keep an e-book ready at all times on my phone or ereader, for those moments when I have time but can’t have my physical book, like in the lab. And the ereader itself is great for trips that limit your ability to carry the extra weight of a bunch of books (like when flying or going far away). And finally, I listen to an audiobook while I commute to and from work, which gives me at least 45 minutes each direction. And that doesn’t even touch the long car trips!
This can be a hard one for a lot of people, especially if you have trouble keeping stories separated in your head. But I have a trick for that, too. If you struggle to keep the details of stories straight when reading more than one at a time, use a different genre for a different format. To give you a quick example, if you are reading a fantasy story in paperback (or hardcover), you may choose to read a contemporary romance as your e-book and a non-fiction book as your audiobook. Or perhaps you pick classic literature as one of those other formats. By separating the type of books you are reading simultaneously, it may be easier for you to enjoy and understand the stories without mixing up those details. Definitely steer clear of reading similar books at the same time! Been there, done that, still can’t remember which is which!
So there you have it. How to read more books, Selina-style. So what about you? What tips do you have to read more books? Share below in the comments!