There is no shortage of recommended reading lists out there, and you likely have several books sitting on your shelf still waiting to be read.
Unfortunately, it can be a struggle to find the time to sit down with a good book. So how can we manage to get more reading done? Thankfully, the solution is not to try to increase our reading speed. With these 4 simple methods you’ll be reading more books and finishing them faster.
Here are some simple ways you can read more books:
1. Make a Plan
Whenever you want to improve on an area of your life it is wise to have both a plan and a means of tracking your progress.
If someone wanted to lose weight they would set a specific goal of how many pounds they’d like to lose, create an exercise plan, and weigh themselves regularly to see how they were doing.
Similarly, those who want to read more books should set a specific goal, create a list of books they would like to read, and keep track of their progress throughout the year.
Set a Goal
A good goal would be to read 12 books per year. That may sound overly ambitious to some who have fallen out of the habit of reading, but you could polish off a 250-page book each month by reading about 8 pages a day. Most people can read that amount in about 20 minutes or less!
Keep a List
I use a simple Google spreadsheet to keep a (growing) list of books I would like to read:
You’ll notice that these are broken into genres, and I bold titles that I already have on my shelf. This way when I want to begin a new book I can go to my list and find one that I’ve already decided I wanted to read.
I recommend spreading your reading out over multiple genres—be careful about ignoring a particular type of book altogether. If you are more interested in fiction, pick up a biography. If you exclusively read non-fiction, grab yourself a copy of the Chronicles of Narnia or another work of fiction that has withstood the test of time.
Track Your Progress
I also use a Google spreadsheet to keep track of what I’ve read for the year, as well as the total pages. You could either highlight completed titles in your list of book list or you could keep another sheet with just the name of the book, the number of pages, and the date you read it.
In 2018 I read about 14 books, plus other casual reading and selections from larger works. Some of the full books I read include a Spurgeon biography by Arnold Dalimore, The Hobbit by Tolkien, and The Peacemaking Church by Curt Heffelfinger.
All told, I read about 3,000 pages (though I likely left off some in my tracking sheet).
2. Schedule a Time to Read
As mentioned above, you could read a 250-page book each month if you read just 8 pages a day. This would likely take you between 15 and 30 minutes each day, depending on how fast you read.
If you want to make reading more books your goal for the year, you’ll need to commit the time to accomplish your goal.
What time will you intentionally set aside to read? Perhaps early morning before anyone wakes up or in the evening instead of watching TV.
No matter what you pick, you’ll be far more likely to make it happen if you schedule reading time into your day.
3. Reject “Junk Food” Reading
If your goal for the year was to exercise more and eat healthier, it would be unwise to be sneaking junk food throughout the day. Not only does it fill you up so you’re not hungry for the food your body actually needs, in most cases you are actually consuming things that are detrimental to your health.
In the same way, if your goal is to read more this year it would be unwise to waste multiple fifteen-minute chunks of time throughout the day scanning through Twitter, checking Facebook, or scrolling through Instagram.
If you spend your downtime consuming the digital junk food of social media, checking for “breaking” news, or browsing other media you’ll be wasting time that you could spend on getting a few pages read in your book. Otherwise, you’re “filling up” on content so that you won’t be in the mood to read later, and the stuff you did read was much less beneficial.
Instead of grabbing your smartphone at the first sign of boredom, keep a book with you. You can read when you’re in a waiting room, have a flight delay, or just about any time you have a few minutes to spare.
4. Embrace Audiobooks
I’ve learned to embrace audiobooks and, for the most part, consider myself having “read” a book if I’ve listened to it in its entirety.
This works best for works of fiction, but I’ve found biographies and lighter theological works are also easy to listen to. (Any book I might want to highlight things or need to reread passages as I go doesn’t work well for me as audio).
This year I listened to over a dozen good books that I simply would not have had time to read otherwise. Just a few of the books I listened to recently are Reset by David Murray, Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death (highly recommended), and The Daring Mission of William Tyndale.
All told, the audiobooks I listen to in a year would equal about 2,500 pages!
If you have a commute, work out regularly, or can have headphones in while you work or do household chores you can cover a lot of ground during the week.
And don’t worry about having to decide whether to purchase a hard copy or an audio version of a book on your list.
There are a number of ways to listen to audio books for free:
Of the two, Hoopla has the best selection. You’ll find works by Puritans, Piper, Sproul, Spurgeon, MacArthur, Lewis, Tozer, and many others. The only downside to Hoopla is that there is a limit of 6 checkouts per month.
Both Overdrive and Hoopla have apps, or you can listen in your browser. Pop into your local library and see if they give access to these digital libraries.
An Actual Library
Remember libraries? Your local library should have a variety of audiobooks available to check out, but they are likely to be CDs and the selection will be hit or miss. Even so, it’s worth taking a look to see what they have to offer!
Other Audiobook Options
Librivox.org — Librivox has thousands of free public domain audiobooks. Since this repository consists solely of works in the public domain you won’t find newer books. However, there are many classic books that are well worth your time.
One of the ways that Librivox is free is that they crowd-source the recordings. Volunteers read and record the books, and so you will find some narrators are easier to listen to than others.
Even so, it is worth checking out their website or their app.
Audible — Audible isn’t free, but through my link you can get two free audiobooks. There is a great selection, but if you choose to continue with it you will pay a monthly subscription fee. If you can get access to Hoopla, above, I don’t think you’ll need to go with this paid option.
Bonus Tip: Get the Pocket App
If you’re like me, books aren’t the only things that sit around waiting to be read. There are many times where an interesting article will come my way that I just don’t have the time to read.
How do I keep track of these articles that I want to find time to read? With Pocket, my favorite and most-used app.
I can save articles for later with a single click from my browser, my phone, in Twitter, or just about anywhere else. When I’ve saved an article, it becomes available to read online, on my tablet, or on my phone.
Even better, Pocket strips out all of the extra fluff and leaves you with just the text of the article, which makes for a much more pleasant reading experience.
My favorite feature, however, is the Talk-To-Speech option, which lets you listen to a saved article. The “voice” which reads the article is human enough (I find the British option to be the easiest to listen to) and you can get through a lot of articles on a walk, while washing the dishes, or while getting ready for the day.
In 2018 I used the Pocket app to read/listen to 2.6 million words – the equivelant of 35 books!
So that’s it. If you want to read more books you don’t need to pick up speed reading or start reading shorter books. You just need to make a plan, schedule the time, get rid of distractions, and start utilizing audiobooks.
Take these simple steps and you’ll be going through your book list in no time.