I read about 60 books a year. I wish I could read more. I consider it part of my job as a writer to read as much as I can. But I also remember a time when I read about 10 books a year. Back then, reading more than that seemed impossible. There was just no way.
I was reflecting last night on how the shift from 10 to 60 happened. I’m not a terribly fast reader, though it’s possible I have gotten a little faster over the years.
Some factors were out of my control. For instance, my babies stopped being babies. They are now full fledge kids with regular sleep schedules and school days and sports. That’s a biggie. But there are also choices I’ve made in the past few years that have really opened up my time for reading.
For anyone looking to read more, I thought I’d share:
Embrace Audio Books
I live in LA, which generally means I spend a fair amount of time in the car. I’m either driving a kid to practice or picking said kid up. I drive to the grocery store. I drive to the bank. I drive a lot. And now, every time I get in the car, I get to “read” a few pages. I’ve even taken to using headphones for when the kids are in the car.
(Side note – check out Libro.fm. It’s just like Amazon’s Audible, except you get to designate a local bookstore to receive the profits from your purchase.)
I listen to books when I exercise, when I’m making dinner, and when I’m folding laundry. This has changed my entire relationship to chores (including exercise). Since I consider reading part of my work, I can now multi-tasking like a mo-fo. Awesome.
Pro-tip: set your audio book to play at 1.25 speed and you can “read” even more in the time you have. Some people can listen at even faster speeds, but that’s about as much as I can handle and still enjoy the story. Experiment.
Learn To Move On
You don’t have to finish every book you start. I think this might be the biggest trick to reading lots of books. Because when you’re reading something you’re not excited about you read slower, you’re more likely to fall asleep, and you’re less likely to pick up the book when you only have a few minutes.
I wrote a whole blog post about why you should stop reading books you don’t love. In short, reading a book should be entertaining. If it’s not, find a better book.
Don’t Take Your Phone to Bed
You know the routine. You get into bed and grab your phone to take one last peek before you go to sleep. Before you know it, half an hour has gone by. Maybe more. I started leaving my phone in the kitchen at night and somehow I plow through the books on my bedside table. I also sleep a lot better.
Carry a Book At All Times
I keep a book in my purse. Sometimes an actual book. Sometimes my Kindle. But I’m never without a book. So when I’m sitting in car line waiting for my kiddos (if I’m not listening to a story) I’m reading. Or if soccer practice runs over by fifteen minutes – more time for me to read. Stuck in line at the post office? Reading.
Swap TV Time for Reading
This one’s a no-brainer. Miright? In the US, the average adult (over 18) watches 4 hours and 45 minutes of TV a day. If you swap even half of that for time with a book you could easily read a book a week.
It Adds Up
If you consider that the average person can read a 300-page book in about ten hours, then you need to carve out about 85 minutes a day to read a book a week.
For those of you with iPhones, I challenge you to open your settings and click to view your Screen Time summaries. I bet you find twenty minutes spent on social media that could be devoted to reading.
Add in fifteen minutes a day in the car (a conservative estimate for most of us). Swap out one TV show a night. Listen to a book while you walk the dog. Read for fifteen minutes before bed. You don’t have to be a speed reader to read a lot.
How do you make time for books?