How to read more books (NOT speed reading)

There’s nothing quite like getting lost in a great book, is there? 

Reading allows you to explore new worlds, learn new things, and get in touch with your emotions. I love the sense of accomplishment that comes from finishing a book. 

For me, the biggest challenge of being a reader is finding the time to fit reading into my busy schedule. But I know that it’s worth making the effort, because reading brings so much value to my life. 

I’ll share some tips on how to read more books by making reading a regular part of your routine.

1. Pick the right books

Read for yourself, not to impress other people.

Choose books that genuinely interest you, rather than ones that you feel you should read or that you think will impress others. When you are excited to read, you’re more likely to find the time to read.

Experiment with different genres. You may be surprised to find that you enjoy a type of book that you never thought you would. 

For example, if you’ve never read a mystery before, try picking up one of the books by Agatha Christie or Arthur Conan Doyle and see if it’s something that you enjoy. If you haven’t read comic fiction, pick up a book by PG Wodehouse

Closer home, RK Narayan is a wonderful author who can mesmerize you with his story-telling. If you’ve been a fan of the old TV series Malgudi Days, then pick up Swami and Friends which will whet your appetite for more reading.

Seek out recommendations from other readers – friends, family, or online book communities. Getting a recommendation from someone else can give you an idea of what you can expect from a book.

HabitStrong has a free Book Reading Club on Telegram where other readers share the books they’re reading. I welcome you to join and become part of the community.

2. Schedule time for reading

Without actively setting aside time to read, it can be all too easy to let other things take priority.

Set a specific time every day for reading, just like you would for a daily workout. For example, you can set aside 30 minutes before bed to read, or set aside an hour on Sunday mornings to read in your local coffee shop. Making it a daily routine can be helpful, so it becomes a habit.

Another approach is to schedule reading time in chunks, such as a half-hour in the morning, and another at night, or even longer on weekends. 

Personally, I’ve found that scheduling reading time works well for me. I usually schedule time for reading in the evening after dinner, before I go to bed. And it has become a part of my evening routine, which I look forward to every day.

Some participants join our Extreme Focused Learning bootcamp to build the discipline of daily reading. One hour of reading every evening can help you tackle even many serious non-fiction books.

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Experiment with different time slots to find what works best for you. Then stick to it.

3. Always carry a book with you

Always have a book with you. That way, whenever you have some free time – whether you’re waiting in line at the store, sitting on a bus or train, or taking a break at work – you can pull out your book and read a few pages.

You can carry multiple books with you, so when you finish one you can switch to the next, or pick one based on your mood. Maybe one fiction and another non-fiction?

Pick books that are portable and easy to read, so you can comfortably read them wherever you are. Check for an appropriately big font size. Get a paperback edition which is easier to carry, rather than a hardcover edition.

Of course you can read on your phone as well, but that comes with a lot of inbuilt distractions.

I like to carry my Kindle around. There is nothing in it that distracts me from reading. I can adjust the font size and layout to my preference. It’s almost like reading a physical book, but with better portability and selection.

4. Build enjoyable rituals around reading

Create enjoyable rituals around reading to make it an activity that you look forward to.

One example is to pair your reading with a hot cup of morning coffee or evening tea. 

Create a reading oasis in your home – a cozy and comfortable spot, such as a corner of your bedroom or living room or balcony, designated specifically for reading. Having a dedicated space for reading can make it feel more special and help you slip into a mindset of relaxation and focus when you sit down to read.

Making reading a social activity can also be an enjoyable ritual, sharing books with friends or family, discussing, and even participating in book clubs.

 

I read every day before I go to bed. It serves as a way to relax and unwind before going to sleep and helps to create a sense of calm before bed. This ritual has also helped me increase my reading volume, as I tend to read at least a chapter or two before going to sleep.

5. Big closing pushes

The last two tips are from our favourite author and productivity expert, Cal Newport.

When you’re nearing the end of a book, give it a big closing push. Create a sense of urgency and motivation to push through the last few pages.

One way to do this is to set aside a specific time and place, such as going to a coffee shop or library for a couple of hours, and using that time to focus exclusively on finishing the book. The sense of isolation from distractions will allow you to focus solely on reading. 

Another way is to set up a “reading sprint” with a group of friends or family members.

When I’m nearing the end of a book and I’m feeling a bit stuck, I like to set aside a specific time on a weekend and give it a big push to finish it. This has helped me finish many books I was close to giving up on.

6. Make reading your default activity

Make reading the first thing you do when you have free time, instead of turning to other forms of entertainment that might waste your time. It is not about setting rules, but it is about choosing reading as the primary activity that you default to.

Become more mindful of your habits and actively choose to read when you have free time. Instead of mindlessly reaching for your phone or turning on the TV, choose to pick up a book and read. This can help to form a new habit and make reading your first choice when you have free time.

Make books more accessible. By keeping your books in a place where you can see them and reach for them easily, you are more likely to grab a book.

 

By making reading your primary activity, you will naturally increase the amount of time you spend reading. Soon you will find yourself reading and finishing more books that you normally do.

Conclusion

Reading books is the best way to expand your knowledge and improve your imagination.
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I hope I have given you some ideas to make the most of your downtime and increase the amount of time you spend reading.

Remember that the key to success is to find what works best for you and to stick to it. 

Happy reading!

 

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