A few years ago, I was reading maybe 30 books a year. To many, this sounds like a lot of reading, but for me it wasn’t nearly enough. I had a huge TBR pile, a long list of classics that I really wanted to explore, and those pesky authors kept writing more books and waving them under my nose. I’d got to the stage where I was dreaming about reading more, but didn’t have the time to do it.
Last year, I read 78 books. Here’s my list of suggestions to help you read more.
Read more than one book at once
Typically, I’m reading five at any one time: a physical fiction book when I’m in the lounge; an ebook on my waterproof Kindle in the bath and in bed; and a non-fiction book which I keep in the home office. I always have two audio books on the go – one that I’ll listen to with my 9-year-old on car journeys, and one for dog walks, cooking, gardening, and any other minute that I can grab.
Always, always have a book with you
Keep a paperback in the car, have the Kindle app and audiobooks on your phone. You’ll be amazed how much reading you can get through whilst waiting for someone to arrive in a cafe, waiting to see the doctor, waiting for your kids to finish their football practice. I found that 2020 was a particularly bad time for having to sit around waiting – even when the kids were allowed to do their sports classes, parents were often not allowed to watch. See it as a treat, and read.
I always have two audiobooks on the go: one to listen to by myself, and one that I listen to in the car with my daughter, on our ten-minute commute to school/work. I tend to listen to the classics as audiobooks, as I find that it takes me longer to read them myself and I don’t skip out all of the descriptive bits if it’s being read to me. I’m not great at reading non-fiction, so if there’s a biography or history book that I want to read, I tend to download the audiobook rather than read it in a book.
I listen to my audiobooks whilst I walk the dog (it makes me walk further and look forward to the evening walk, even when it’s cold and wet), when I’m making a meal, and when cleaning the house. My husband is quite often the one to do the vacuuming, purely because I can’t listen to a book whilst I’m doing that. I’ve got an annual subscription for Audible, which works out a great deal cheaper than paying for downloads individually, and I also download ARCs from NetGalley.
Make reading a family pastime
I’ve started looking forward to reading for an hour straight after work, before I make the evening meal. My daughter often joins in with this – reading her homework reading first and then moving on to a novel she’s reading for pleasure – and it’s become our special time to snuggle up together.
As a teacher of English, I know how important is that our children see us reading ourselves, if they are to view it as something to do for pleasure, and not just homework. So many of us read only in bed, and assume that their children know about this, but making it visible creates a reading culture in the home.
Switch off the TV
Unless there’s something I particularly want to view, I watch less TV now. Rather than watching trash TV when I’m bored, I’ll read for half an hour instead. Fill your down time with books.
Ebooks are cheap and there are actually more of them to select from than physical books nowadays, with so many authors self-publishing. If you spend £20 on the latest hardback, you feel obliged to read it all, even if you’re not enjoying it. A free ebook only needs to be continued if you like it – there’s less pressure and you can stack up a great TBR (to be read) pile without it filling up your bookshelves.
I get ARC (advanced reader copies) of books from NetGalley, reading books that are yet to be published for free in return for an honest review. There’s something rather thrilling about being the first to read something new, and it’s great when that book goes on to become the next big read. You can also download a huge amount of ebooks for free from the internet – if you’re a member of Amazon Prime, you get one free new novel, or ‘first read’, a month.
I’ve had a Kindle for years, but I used to have a HD one, which was more like a tablet – great picture quality if you’re watching films on it, but I couldn’t read on it in direct sunlight, and it was rather chunky. Last year, when my HD packed in, my husband treated me to a waterproof Paperwhite Kindle. Game changer! I can now read the same books in the bath that I read in bed, and I can read comfortably in the garden if we have a sunny day.
Set a target for how many books you’re aiming to read in a year. I keep a log of all my reviews on Goodreads, and you can set your own reading goal for the year. At the end of the year, you’ll get a fabulous summary of your reading.
Are you trying to read more books? Have you succeeded?
I’d love to hear if any of these tips have been helpful to you, or if you have any other ways that have helped you to read more. Please let me know in the comments.