October was my best reading month in over a year. By the end of October, I’d finished no less than 12 books on Goodreads. The best part is that I had no idea I had read so much.
I experienced an equally successful reading month in May 2020. I was in lockdown, had developed sleep dread (meaning I stayed up reading, for lack of something better to do, almost all night), and had next to nothing else to do.
Now I work full-time, run this publication, have a somewhat active life and several laborious hobbies (knitting and embroidery), so given the circumstances, reading 3 books/week seems impossible.
And it is, for the most part. But if October proved something to me, that’s how skilled I am at finding time to read no matter the circumstances — if I really want to, that is.
Upon thinking long and hard about how I did it, I came up with a few strategies that helped me, and therefore can help anyone else, read more.
How to Read More
Half of the books I completed last month were audiobooks. Realistically, without audiobooks, my overall reading stats would drop by about 40% in a year. And I don’t really want to sacrifice that many books.
If you’re put off by audiobooks for the common reasons of: one, Audible is quite expensive or two, you can’t get to grips with them, I may have solutions for you.
In terms of cost, shift from Audible altogether and give your money to Scribd or Libby instead. Yes, they are technically borrowing services, but you only pay the monthly fee and can access any and all audiobooks and e-books available at no extra cost.
Scribd is £9.99/$9.99 and Libby is free, but you need a library membership, which is already more worth it than dumping more money into Amazon.
But if you can’t afford any subscription, YouTube has a decent selection of free audiobooks you can try.
As for not being able to get to grips with them, try listening to easy and accessible titles first. YA, romance and contemporary fiction work best for me, as they are easy to follow and the language is conversational.
I don’t recommend listening to Classics or poetry, but non-fiction, as long as it’s not too scientific, can also be a good option.
Set aside a reading slot each day
This is ridiculously effective. Try to find a slot of time in your daily routine when you know you normally don’t do anything and set that aside just for reading.
This can be an hour before bed or half an hour with your morning coffee, or maybe during your lunch break or while the kids are napping. No matter how busy we are, there will always be ‘dead’ times in a day when we just sit around doing nothing.
Use that time for reading and you’ll be surprised how much progress you can make. I read from 10 pm every night, once my partner has gone to bed, usually between 30 minutes and an hour. It’s also a very good habit before going to sleep.
Key tip: make sure this is roughly around the same time every day, so you know that’s your non-negotiable reading time.
Dedicate a weekly routine to reading
Do something every week specifically to get you in the reading mood. This can be an extra-long bubble bath, some time by yourself in the park, or going to a coffee shop for the purpose of reading.
The latter is my choice, to no one’s surprise. I read for an hour and a half every Saturday in the cafe of my local book store. I am more likely to focus within that environment because it is buzzing with people doing the same thing.
It fills me with inspiration, motivation and sheer love for books and for the simple act of sitting down and diving into a story.
Now those three are the main things that keep my pages turning, but other, less routine tips can come in handy when you go off track. Some of my favourite emergency reading tips are:
- Setting a page goal: I challenge myself to read a set number of pages in a set number of days and then the games begin. A good example is Regan from peruseproject, who aims to read 500 pages every weekend.
- Joining a book club: Now this can be in the true sense of the word, or you can read along with the virtual book clubs out there. My favourite is the Late Night Book Club on YouTube. They always get me excited for their live shows and that leads to me picking up what they’re reading.
- Buddy reading: I did this for the first time with my friend Anangsha Alammyan and it was an incredible experience. I’m planning to do it again with my best friend soon. It holds you accountable, keeps you excited and strengthens the bond you have with that person.
Regardless of how many books you read, it’s really all about the experience and the enjoyment you get out of it. Wanting to read more is admirable, but make sure you don’t fall for the numbers and forget to enjoy the journey.
Eliza Lita is a freelance writer based in the UK. She covers books and reading, fitness, lifestyle, and personal development. For more of her stories, please consider signing up for a Medium membership through her referral link.