So you want to learn how to read more books this year.
Maybe you’re an avid reader already or someone trying to get back on the reading horse.
In this post, I’ll share with you how I’m able to read 3-4 books a week with a busy life and job!
Now let’s get into it!
How To Read More Books And Why You Should Care:
Should you even care about how to read more books this year?
What are the benefits anyway?
As someone spent 4 years studying the brain in college, here’s a simple fact I learned- reading is like exercise for your brain.
Here are just a few results that studies have found in those who read more books.
Less Chance Of Memory Loss:
This 2013 study concluded that frequent cognitive activity such as reading during your early years led to less cognitive decline over time.
The rate of diseases such as Alzheimers and dementia are increasing worldwide. But studies have shown that frequent readers can actually improve their memory!
Helps You Get Better Sleep:
With the number of distractions and stressors we have in our lives, sleep can often be a luxury vs. a necessity.
In fact, 4 out of 10 Americans sleep less than 6 hours a night on average. That’s nuts!
Luckily, reading has shown to only make it easier to sleep but also improve the quality of your sleep. For instance, reading has shown to decrease stress levels in your body as your winding down your day.
Helps You Get Paid More:
You’ve likely heard about how many books the most successful people read.
For example, former US President, George W. Bush, was secretly an avid reader. In fact, he’s reported to have read almost 100 books in 2006 (while he was in office). That’s more than 2 books per week.
Here’s a quote from Karl Rove who competed with Bush on who could read the most books in a year.
“In the 35 years I’ve known George W Bush, he’s always had a book nearby. He plays up being a good ol’ boy from Midland, Texas, but he was a history major at Yale and graduated from Harvard Business School. You don’t make it through either unless you are a reader.”
Bill Gates is known to read over 50 books in a year.
Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, is famous for learning about rockets through … you guessed it – reading!
Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and investor on Shark Tank, sets out time to read 3 hours a day!
But you don’t have to look at the most successful people to want to read more books. Just look at the typical American.
Americans who make more than 80K a year have likely read more books than those with lower salaries. In fact, higher salaries are 60% more likely to have read 20-50 books compared to their lower income counterparts.
Better Alternative To Social Media:
Free or cheap entertainment has taken over our attention space. Commonly used platforms such as YouTube, Netflix, and Instagram are taking more than 2 hours of our time each day.
We can go as far as spending more than 5 years of our lives on these platforms!
While most of this time is wasted, imagine what 2 hours of reading could do for your future, your career, and your understanding of the world.
Plus, it’s free!
It’s Free Education:
Full disclosure, I’m about to finish 7 years of schooling after grade school. I will be starting to pay off my $170,000 in student loans in a few short months.
But some of the best education I’ve received sadly weren’t in those classrooms. The best education was found inside my favorite books!
You can learn about anything you want. Cooking. Business. Self-Improvement. Relationships. Rocketships (for my future Elon Musks).
And the added bonus? They’re written by experts who are the top of their game. They know what’s important, how to break the info down and present it nicely into the books you’ll read.
So while I’m thankful for my post-graduate education, I wouldn’t be here without the books I’ve read (some multiple times) over the years.
How Many Book Does The Average Person Read In A Year?
Okay fine, you may agree that you should be reading more. But how many books should you be reading?
10? 20? 100?
Is there even a right number?
A recent study showed that Americans read on average 12 books a year. This number is a bit elevated the outliers (the CEOs) who read multiple books in a week.
The most commonly answered response was “4 books per year”.
How much have you read this year?
How Much Does The Average Person Read?
The average American reads about 5 hours a week which is far inferior to the 10 hours from those living in India.
Here’s a great image which breaks down reading time (per week) based on country.
Where do you stack up compared to your fellow residents?
How To Read More Books This Year and More Often:
Now that we’ve confirmed that reading more books is a good thing, lets’ talk about exactly how you do that!
Here are 33 of my top strategies on how to read more books this year! Be sure to share your favorite with your friends and peers!
1. Create a Dedicated Time To Read More Books
Failing to plan is planning to fail. I’m sure you’ve heard that quote many times.
The same goes for your reading.
On the flip side, the best way to assure you read more books is to dedicate a specific time (however small) for the task.
Some great examples include 15 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes before bed, or during one of your many breaks in the day.
Take it one step further and add this scheduled time into your Google Calendar.
Now protect this reading time the same way you would with work or dinner with a significant other. They’re non-negotiables!
2. Replacing Wasted Time
Remember that scary stat that the average person spends almost 2 hours a day on social media!
Imagine how many books you could read in a year if you replace even half of that time with reading.
Here’s an example.
The average person reads about 200 words per minute (WPM).
A typical 200-page book has about 50,000 words.
With my amazing math skills – 200 WPM comes out to 12,000 words read per hour. This means you can read an entire 200-page book in just 4 days!
That’s nearly 90 books in a year!
Even if we choose to be conservative with those numbers, you can still easily read over 50-60 books in a year!
Now tell me which would be more beneficial for your life – 60 books read or an extra hour per day on Instagram?
Seems pretty obvious if you ask me!
3. Use Audiobooks
Let’s face it – not all of us can concentrate on a physical book all the time. Life can be distracting – I get it.
But use the power of Audiobooks to still get your reading in.
In fact, Audiobooks may be more beneficial for your comprehension.
It’s commonly said that we only remember 10% of what we read. But we can actually remember anywhere from 20-30% of what we hear!
Thus not only are Audiobooks a great tool to take your next book on the road, but you may also actually end up recalling more in the long term.
Check out the Audible 30-day trial here.
4. Winding Down Your Day:
You may be familiar with natural procrastination, but what about sleep procrastination?
This is when we’re mindlessly scrolling through social media, YouTube, and TV when we’re supposed to be winding down.
Sure you may use these forms of entertainment to last you until you feel tired- but why not read during these extra 30 minutes to an hour?
Having a book by your beside can help you read 1 more book each week!
5. Using Small Bits Of Time To Read More Books:
Reading is commonly attributed to requiring long bits of time. But what if you just don’t have that available?
While you may be busy, saying “I’m too busy” to read may actually not be true.
A quick exercise is to identify any 5-10 minute blocks in your day where you’re just not doing anything.
This could be traveling, waiting for meetings, social media usages, etc.
Finding just 10 extra minutes every day to read can lead to you reading an extra 9 books a year! Just 10 minutes!
(This is assuming you can read 5 pages and an average 200-page book)
6. Making It A Routine To Read More Books:
Like anything, reading can be easier if it’s ingrained into your everyday life.
Just how many of us have morning routines (mine is inspired by the Miracle Morning), we should also have a reading routine.
This can be installed in our morning routines. For examples, I enjoy starting my day with 1-2 hours away from my phone. Thus I use the first half to read and the second half to blog!
It doesn’t matter so much where you put your reading, so much that you do find a repeatable time for it every day.
Heck, put a 30-minute block every day for “Reading Time”. This can equate to an extra 24 books a year!
Imagine reading 24 life-changing books simply because you found 30-minutes a day for it!
7. Tell People About What You’re Reading:
Earlier this week I went for a 3-mile run. The run was designed to where I’d circle back to my car right at the 3-mile marker.
But I had a thought – why not do 6 miles today and make it a solid 10k run? I felt good and it was a beautiful day. Why not?
So around mile 2.5, I choose to create an Instagram story sharing that I’d be doing a 10k run that evening.
And you know what happened? I passed my car at the 3-mile marker and did an extra 3 miles to accomplish that 10k run.
We are just more likely to accomplish our goals – even reading more – if we share it with others.
Not only will it make us more accountable – but we’ll also try extra hard to avoid the embarrassment of not following through.
So if you want to read more books this year – share it with your friends. Share it on social media and share your progress.
Just watch how quickly you become a “reader”.
8. Create A Reading List:
Ever go to a gym without a plan of what workout you’d be doing? Compare this to when you know exactly which exercise you’ll be doing. One tends to lead to a better gym session.
The same goes for reading.
Thus create a reading list for yourself. What are some books you’d love to get to eventually?
Use great tools such as Goodreads to create a book wishlist. Keep adding books to your list so you know what’s on deck.
This way, once you finish a book, you’ll be requiring little energy to move on to the next one.
9. Create A Reading Deadline:
As a follow up to the last tip – create a deadline for each book on your list.
Maybe you have 12 books you want to read this year. To make it likely you’ll read all 12, assign a specific day that you plan to finish each one. (The last day of each month for example.)
Take it an extra step and add it to your calendar to remind yourself of your goal.
Most people don’t even have a reading list. If you apply the list + the deadline – you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of your peers when it comes to reading.
10. Take On A Reading Challenge:
Regardless of where in the year you’re reading this – you can always dedicate to a 365-day challenge.
How many books would you like to read? 10? 20? 50? 100?
Now work backward to re-engineer how you’ll get there.
One of my favorite quotes is the following:
“How would the person I want to be, do the things I’m about to do?”
Thus if you see yourself as a reader – what habits and practices will you take on to achieve your reading challenge.
Here are a few examples of reading challenges you can take on if you need help.
11. Buy A New Book:
There’s just something about buying something which makes us more likely to use them vs. something we were gifted or handed down.
The same goes for books. I recently bought 3 books from an Amazon Book store and began reading them as soon as I saw the $30 on my credit statement.
Don’t get carried away obviously, but if there’s a book you’ve been meaning to read – buy a brand new physical copy. You’ll likely be more motivated to read it vs. the free copy at your library.
12. Reading Two Books At Once:
Some consider reading multiple books at the same time taboo. But we don’t say the same thing about TV, podcasts, or music.
You’re not always going to be motivated to read a specific book all the time. So it’s okay to have 2-3 that you’re working on. Just make sure you have a plan to get through each one.
An interesting approach that I like to take is to have one book for the morning and another for downtime.
My morning book is often stimulating and inspiring (self-development, business, etc.) The other book can be anything (fiction, history, etc.).
There’s no pressure to try to finish either one – but each serves their place in my day well (inspiration vs. entertainment).
13. Learn Speed Reading:
I’ll have an entire post about speed reading, but using speed reading techniques can easily help you increase how many books you read this year.
What is speed reading? While some consider it to be just a fancy way to skim – speed reading is really just reading with proper technique.
Proper technique? Yep!
Just like there’s a big difference between a professional swimmer and me (someone who can barely tread water), a speed reader is someone who knows the proper form and technique of reading.
How big of a difference can a technique make?
Using common speed reading techniques, you can read near 700 WPM (and faster).
This means you can read about a book every hour!
Imagine if you read for 30 minutes a day using speed reading? That’s over 180 books in a year!
Interested in learning more about speed reading?
Check out one of my favorite articles on the topic here.
Learn how you can read faster and still retain the information through one of my favorite blog posts here.
14. Avoid Technology When You Can:
If I asked the typical person to choose between their phones and a book – the phone would win hands down.
But we’ve already talked about how much time we’re wasting on our phones and other forms of tech. So why not have specific routines to avoid them?
Some great examples would be to:
- Put your phone on Do Not Disturb in the morning while you do your morning reading
- Leave your phone in your car while reading at a coffee shop
- Turning your phone off during your evening reading session.
- Use smartphone apps to avoid allowing you access to social media at certain times
- Having a no TV hour every day (try to get your family on board)
- Give your phone to someone else while you do your reading
You get the point. Some may seem extreme for you, but if you want to become a reader (and aren’t one yet) then take the drastic steps to get their quicker.
15. Join Goodreads:
I love Goodreads! It’s almost like a motivational source for readers.
Not only can you discover your next favorite book, but you can also see what other inspirational readers (and your friends) are reading.
Check out Goodreads here.
16. Read During Cardio:
If you’re really busy, often the decision becomes which form of self-care to participate in. Do I go to the gym or read that self-development book?
Why not do both?
Because I had a busy school schedule, I would often read a book while on the elliptical or bike. I would pair these with my longer cardio sessions so I could make some meaningful progress.
17. Create A Personal Goal Of Education – Learn A New Skill:
Reading can also be very specific.
Maybe you just promoted in an executive role (congrats!). You may be wanting to learn management skills you didn’t need before.
Your reading can and should be tailored specifically to these life goals or desires.
For instance, I’m about to be married in a few short months.
To increase my chances of having a successful marriage, I thought it would be smart to read about what makes a great marriage (and a bad one). I’m currently reading The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
In a way, I’m using reading to learn the communication, coping, and relational skills I’ll need for years to come. It’s thus very easy to pick up books on these topics and actually finish them!
18. Plan To Teach Someone:
Learning without a desire to share that knowledge is futile.
If you want to learn about a specific topic – have a go-to person to share that information with.
For instance, I read a lot of personal finance books when I was in college (my parents weren’t so great with money). Now I try to share the lessons I learned through those books with anyone who seems clueless about finance.
Regardless of the number of takeaways – planning to share these lessons with someone specific can increase your chances of finishing that book!
19. Pair It With Your Meals:
This may not apply to all of you, but often our meals are paired with mindless tasks. This is the social media and YouTube we keep coming back to.
Why not use this time to read 2-3 pages of your current book?
Seems small but simply doing this for 2 meals a day can lead you to read an extra 10 books a year! (Assuming 6 pages read).
Are you starting to see how small changes in your life can blow your past reading record out of the water?
20. Mark Up The Book:
For some marking up a book is taboo. But for others, it’s exactly what you need to feel invested in what you’re reading.
So if you’re someone who reads for purpose and tries to obtain as many takeaways as possible – mark away.
Fold, highlight, sticky note. Use your own system to transform the book into your lesson journal!
21. Find A Reading Environment:
Like anything in our lives, there is a time and a place where we work optimally.
We’ve touched on time through routines, but it’s also important to have a reading environment.
This can be as simple as having a comfortable couch in your home designated as your “reading chair”.
But this also includes making a comforting cup of tea to go with your book. Add an extra touch of subtle instrumental music in the background and you’re set.
For others, this may be going to an actual bookstore/library or coffee shop and reading.
Identify what factors of the following are the most suitable for your reading environment:
- Sound/Ambiance (Coffeehouse vs. Quiet Library Cubicle)
- Music (classical)
- Food/Drinks (cup of coffee)
- Clothing (comfortable hoodie or blanket)
Then create that reading environment whenever you can.
22. Start Developing Your Bookshelf:
Ever get inspired to read more after seeing someone else’s bookshelf? Heck, you may have just seen it in the background of someone’s video and got inspired.
Why not create your own bookshelf? Each time you read a new book – add it to your collection.
Slowly but surely you’ll begin to see a visual representation of how much you’ve read!
23. Cancel Your Distractors:
We’ve touched on some common distractions numerous times throughout this post (social media. YouTube, TV, etc.)
So first ask yourself if these are necessary for your life? I recently decided Netflix was more of a con than a pro in my life and canceled my service.
Maybe you think the same is true for your social media apps – delete them. Use the extra time that you’re no longer spending on your phone to read.
But if any of the above seems extreme, why not use technology to limit technology?
I love apps such as StayFocused which will block distracting apps on your devices during specific times of the day.
So if you want to read for between 7-8 PM every day, set the app to block your commonly used apps. You’ll be much more likely to be successful to read more this year!
24. Plan Time For Reading First:
This is a tip I used in my personal life which works wonders for reading as well.
As a student, I kept finding myself overwhelmed with my ratio of studying to free time.
So I made a switch – schedule my fun first and use the remaining time to study.
This was as simple as scheduling 1-2 hours of activities I was looking forward to each day, first.
The same goes for reading. If you really want to read more this year, but can’t seem to find the time – remove your “obligations” and schedule the reading first.
You’ll be surprised how easy it is to find 30-60 minutes a day to read and still get everything else done.
25. Have Books On Your Devices:
While I’ve done my fair share of bashing of tech in this post, it’s not all bad. In fact, much of it has helped me read more books this year!
One simple way is to have books on your devices that you can turn to.
Some of my favorite sources for this are:
26. Learn to Speed Listen:
Audiobooks are becoming more and more popular now.
The good news for those wanting to read more books is that audiobooks aren’t just convenient – they can be faster.
The average person can listen twice as fast as they read. That means you can increase you’re listening speeds to 1.5-2x on your audiobooks and finish a book in 3-4 days!
My favorite source for audiobooks and speed listening is hands down Audible. They have the best collection and their app allows you to increase the reading speed (which is great for a speed listener like myself).
27. Read During Chores:
It’s optimistic to think the entirety of our day is exciting.
Unfortunately, it’s also filled with mundane tasks such as dishes, taking out the trash, and cleaning.
Why not use these times to read (or listen) to a book?
Even if you spend just 3-4 hours a week on boring chores, that’s an extra book per week you could be reading!
28. Use A Speed Reading Tool:
Maybe you don’t want to try the speed reading techniques we touched on earlier?
What if you could use a software that helped you speed read without actually have to learn how?
If so check out the Spreeder software which can take any digital text and show it to you at certain speeds.
Thus if your average reading speed is 200 WPM, you can set it to 400 without noticing much of a decline in your comprehension.
Try Spreeder here.
29. Use Noise Canceling Headphones:
I like many of you get distracted by the smallest of sounds.
To help, I grabbed a nice pair of Bose headphones which I turn on (sometimes without music) to cancel out outside noise.
It works wonders as I can then just focus on reading what’s in front of me!
30. Join A Book Club:
Want to be a frequent reader? Why not join others with the same goal?
Find an online or nearby book club to keep you motivated. Having a scheduled meeting (with food) will make it easier to keep turning the pages.
31. Focus On What You’re Reading – Not What’s Next Up:
Sometimes I make the mistake of buying a new book while I’m still getting through one.
Often I find myself perseverating on what the newer book will teach me vs. focusing my attention on what the current book is teaching me.
So work on your avoiding distractions – this includes other books you’re not actively working on.
32. It’s Okay To Stop Reading A Book:
This may seem like it doesn’t belong in this book. But let’s accept the fact – not every book is a good book.
Also, not every book will be interesting for you. There’s no need to muddle through it (unless it’s for a school project).
It’s okay to stop reading a book which doesn’t keep your attention.
Move on quickly so you can begin reading the book that does change your life!
33. Skim When Necessary:
Authors know you may not read every word.
Readers skim – it’s what we do. I’m betting you’ve done a good share of it for this post.
But a good writer is able to get their message across even if the reader skips sentences, paragraphs, and pages.
If you’re reading for content and lessons, be okay with moving on when you get the gist of what the author is saying.
Also, if you’re aware of the concept they’re teaching you, it’s okay to skim past it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve skimmed in productivity books when they begin talking about the 80/20 rule or Parkinson’s Law.
Where To Get Your Books:
We touched in a great deal on how to read more books this year – but where exactly should you be getting them? Below are just a few suggestions that have helped me be on pace to read over 80 books this year!
Imagine having thousands of electronic books written by experts at your fingertips!
Kindle Unlimted does just this! For a small fee (currently $9.99/month) you can change the course of your career, business, marriage, finances, and personal growth.
Want a 30-day free trial? Sign up here to see if Kindle Unlimited would be a good fit for you!
Similar to Kindle Unlimited, Audible is great for anyone who prefers to listen to audiobooks.
Does reading 50 books a year seem like too much for you? Well, what about 10-12? That may seem more comfortable?
If so, Audible would a be a great source for the want-to-be-readers who can’t make the time to sit down and open up a book.
If you want to get 2 free Audiobooks for free – check out Audible here!
Now maybe you don’t have the money to read using Kindle Unlimited or Audible. A great free resource is Overdrive!
Overdrive works through your current library card/membership and allows you to access any available audiobooks or eBooks for free! You can download them right to your phone or tablet!
The con of Overdrive is that the selection is dependent on your library and the top rated books are often checked out by other users.
Still, the app has been a great addition to my reading repertoire.
Check out Overdrive here.
I discovered this recently, but YouTube actually has it’s a decent share of audiobooks!
I’m not sure how legal they are, but why not listen to the videos while they are there?
I kept the most obvious to the very end. If you want free – use your local library!
Either use their online catalog to see what they have or be spontaneous and find a book that seems interesting to read!
With that – we are finally wrapping up this monster of a post.
Just remember this – if you want to become a reader, you can do so with small yet effective steps.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. If so, just do me a small favor and share it with one person. This can be to keep yourself accountable on your new reading goal or to inspire someone else to become a reader themselves!
It will really help my blog! So please share and comment down below – what are your favorite tips to read more?
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Thanks for reading!
Now go out and read more…