10 Ways to Read More Books Next Year

After reading 70 books, Austin Kleon listed his advice on reading more books. I hit my personal adult reading record this year also, and thought I’d share some changes I made that made it possible.

  1. The first moment of the day are the most precious; spend them reading.
    I used to wake up and look at Twitter. This meant sometimes I stepped into a sh*tstorm that had raged all night long. But if I started the day reading, I was in the hands of an author who woke me up gently and steadily until I was rational enough to step into my life.
    I made this change not to read more but to be happier. It worked on both counts.
  2. If you have a child, provide the same service to her. 
    My daughter was recently diagnosed with dyslexia, which explained her growing aversion to reading. I knew reading to her would help instill a love of reading, but I was failing at it. I wake up about two hours before she does. When you get up at 5 am, you get really sleepy at night, and I could hardly read her a couple pages before I nodded off. So I started reading her a chapter each morning as well. And it worked.
    After I read to her,  I’d start breakfast a’cooking and then we’d “parallel read” sitting next to each other.  For her, it’s usually a school book; me, some nonfiction for a project.  This takes about 20 minutes all together. 10-15 for a chapter read out loud, and 10 minutes reading silently together. She is doing much better in school now.
  3. Don’t bother with bad books. Austin Kleon and Scott Berkun both agree: if you don’t like it, don’t keep reading it.
    I don’t know what number your english teacher did on your head; mine insisted Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a classic and therefore good and worth suffering through. I disagree to this day. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Once reading is a chore, you ain’t going to do it.
    If it’s a paper book, consider defenestrating it. Flinging a bad book out the window is one of life’s least appreciated joys.
  4. When you get weary of a book that’s good, switch books, not activities.
    I’m reading a lot of good nonfiction, but sometimes it’s just not that compelling (Sorry John Kotter, Leading Change is both invaluable and a yawn).  I’ll try to finish the chapter (if I can), then read a chapter of riveting and sometimes trashy fiction.
    Wash down your organizational change with a shot of supernatural detective stories!
  5. Download samples of books you want to read instead of adding them to your wishlist.
    This has two advantages

    1. The book you found intriguing is there when you finish the book you are enjoying. You don’t have to go and refind it.
    2. People won’t accidentally buy you things you don’t know if you want.
  6. There have been like, three trillion studies showing looking at screens before bed mess up your sleep so read a paper book instead.
    Or better yet, listen to an audio book. Audible has a sleep timer and you can set the volume so low you have to hold still to hear. You will go to sleep like a baby. A baby whose parents are reading you to sleep. Both Collapse and The Information have been wonderfully good and lulling me into unconsciousness, as they have no “good part” that is so exciting you stay awake to find out what happened.
  7. Listen to a book instead of the TV or radio in the gym, while running or while commuting.
    Although I will never give up 99% invisible. Because awesome.
  8. Hide from social media.
    I have deleted the Twitter and Facebook aps from my phone, and hidden them two pages down in a folder on my iPad, because they are hungry little beasts who can easily consume two hours.  I’d rather spend that time doing things that make me happy. Like reading. If you must visit social media, set a timer. Seriously, you’ll see what I mean.
    If you don’t have time to read, ask yourself, where has that time gone?
  9. Pretend the law hasn’t changed, and read during take off.
    Turn off that back-of-the-seat personal TV and read.  Ask yourself, is that new Tom Cruise really going to be better than Leviathan? Angelina Jolie better than Scorpio Races? I think not.
    The nice things about ereaders is no one knows what you are reading.
    But why be ashamed? Some YA is better than most literary fiction. If you’d rather read Hunger Games than The Zone of Interest, I’m 100% behind you. Optimize for joy.

Finally a hint on how to retain the knowledge you gained: draw the book. I taught myself how to sketchnote this year (from a book, natch). I find drawing a key concept from a chapter, or even distilling the entire book into a drawing is a great way to retain the important ideas.

From Follow the Yellow Brick Road
From Follow the Yellow Brick Road
From Switch
From Switch



Add Yours
  1. 2
    Sandy Thurlow

    I agree with everything you wrote except defenestrating books. Please donate them to your public library bookstore or a used bookstore instead. Someone may adore the book you demolished. Someone who has less money in their book budget than you do.

  2. 3

    Books that get flung are not demolished as they hit my soft lawn, and go into the goodwill or used book store bag after anyway. And one cannot defenstate the kindle without unfortunate consequences and good books being victimized as well.

    In college I once defenstrated a paperback out a window. My roommate, in solidarity, flung her socks out after it. A homeless guy collected all and seemed happy as we were. The cycle of life….

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