I’m on track to read 100 books this year.
So far I’ve read 48 books—in just over five months. The longest book I read was 1,660 pages (Paul and the Faithfulness of God by N.T. Wright), and the shortest 48 pages (Four Quartets by T.S. Elliot). On average I read at least an hour a day, though often more. Usually I’ll read on my way to work or returning home from work, while I’m on the train or bus. But I often read at home too, usually first thing in the morning.
I’m a writer because I’m a reader. I’m a firm believer in the idea that a good writer must be a good reader first and foremost. I have always enjoyed reading, but over the last few years I’ve taken it more seriously and dedicated more time to it; I’ve become a voracious reader.
Last year I read 75 books, this year I challenged myself with 80; although, as I’ve already said, I’m well on my way to 100 books this year.
Today I wanted to share some thoughts on how you can read more books yourself. Maybe you haven’t read a book cover to cover since school, or maybe you’re reading a lot already and just looking to read a bit more, either way here’s a bit of advice on how to read more books!
First of all, why read? In a world of movies, wikipedia, smart phones, and click-bait articles, why pick up a book when everything else seems so much more compelling? Harold Bloom, in his book How to Read and Why?, argues that we read for the simplest of reasons: “To discover and augment the self”. Asking, “Information is endlessly available to us; where shall wisdom be found?”
For some this is true, but not for all. Some read to learn a new business technique, to study an interesting subject, or simply for entertainment. But in the fast-paced world of today, it is sad to see how little reading is taken up. Readers are hard to come by.
But I’m convinced that reading will always be important, perhaps even more so in our fast-paced world. We need the patience a book teaches us, in the midst of quick and easy entertainment. We need to thrill of a quiet afternoon discovering some ancient text, and meeting with the history of thousands who have read and discovered before us. We need the humanity of Shakespeare, the humor of Dickens, the genius of Joyce, the bleakness of Beckett.
We could all read more books. So here’s some tips on how!
Read Harder Books
If you’re over 20 and still reading books like the Hunger Games or the Twilight series (or God forbid, 50 Shades of Grey!), it’s time to step up your book game! Go, as quickly as possible, to your nearest bookstore or library and get yourself a classic: something old, something time-tested. Go pick up Dostoevsky, Melville, Faulkner, Hemingway, Austen, Woolf, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, or anyone else from the classics shelf!
I think a lot of adults are bored with the idea of reading because the only books they think to read are too easy for them. But if you apply yourself, and read something difficult and challenging, you’ll be more engaged in the act of reading, and in turn get more from it.
You don’t have to always read the classics, if, for example, you love a good thriller novel (like the kind my friend Tim Heath writes). But at least give them a shot from time to time!
The Snowball Effect
The more you read the more you’ll want to read. It can be addicting, truly! If you’re too busy, which I know many of us are, then try and commit to just 15 minutes every day. Take this time away from all the time you’ve spent on Facebook today, trust me you have 15 minutes to spare! Set a timer if it helps. If you read for 15 minutes a day, you’ll make it a habit and before long you’ll be reading an hour a day.
The average adult can read about 300 words a minute. For most books this is a page. So in fifteen minutes you should be able to read at least ten pages, which means you’ll be completing a book or more every month (depending on length).
Fifteen minutes is more than possible. Commit to reading just this short amount and you’ll be well on your way to reading more books this year.
Read Kindle Books
Probably half, if not more, of the books I read are on Kindle. I always prefer a “real” book, but by necessity I read eBooks quite often. The best thing about Kindle books is I always have a book on hand, but also the “text-to-speech” function is quite helpful for listening/reading to books quickly.
Always Have a Book With You
This is an important point to reading more. Downloading the Kindle app on your phone is the easiest way! (iBooks works, too. Really another reading app! Though I prefer Kindle.) This way whenever you have a spare minute or two you can spend it reading!
Read Free Books
Reading more doesn’t have to cost you a cent! There are millions of great books you can read in the public domain, including most classic books of literature written before this century. There are several great places to look for free books including Gutenberg, Amazon, Adelaide, and Openculture. And don’t miss out on all my free books, too! Or sign up to my Readers Group and get a free book sent to your inbox every month!
Listen to Audio Books
I don’t read audio books very often, but sometimes, especially with fiction. I like to read along while I am listening to the audio book, especially if it’s a very well done performance. There are two great programs for this: Audible and LibriVox.
Audible has a great deal, you can get two free audio books (high quality ones) just for signing up for a free trial. I downloaded the 24 hour Ulysses audio book for this (a great narration of the book), then I cancelled my membership the following day. That’s a $100 audio book for nothing.
LibriVox is a free alternative. Volunteers read books and upload them up for anyone to download. They aren’t always very professional sounding, but LibriVox is a nice alternative for the budget-conscious.
Goodreads is the Facebook for books. It’s a social media platform based entirely around what your reading and what your friends are reading. I’m on it, and I use it often. The best part is how it helps you keep on track towards reading goals. You feel the gratification of checking off another book, and that can help motivate you to read more.
Stop Reading Articles
Quit giving into the click-bait, time wasting vortex; stop reading pointless articles. It’s ironic that I would write this here, in an article, but I’ll be honest with you: you don’t have to read my articles. I’d much rather you read one of my books (three of which are completely free), or someone else’s for that matter. (I have a list of recommended reading here and my favorites from 2015 here.)
95% of online articles that get shared are a complete waste of time. I hope my articles offer genuine content, but if they don’t do anything for you, don’t read them. Pick up a book, instead. You’ll be better off for it.
I rarely read articles online. The only two exceptions being if I know the author, or if I’m doing research.
This rule cuts out all Buzzfeed, bait-click websites making money by wasting your time. Your life won’t end if you never click on the article of “the twenties cutest puppies doing funny things”, I promise.
Just say no to click-bait!
So there yo have it. Some simple advice that may help you read more books this year. So put down your phone, shut off your laptop, pick up that dusky book, and happy reading!
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