How To Read More (Or How I Managed To Read 55 Books In One Year)

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(Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash)

I’ve always loved reading. As a child I would count down the days to our weekly library trips, always checking out the maximum amount of books that I was allowed and devouring them all within days. And since becoming a fully fledged adult with a stressful job, reading has become one of my very favourite ways to relax.

But despite how much joy it brings me, I find that with most things in life, unless I make a firm commitment, I struggle to find the time to pick up a book. And so last year I set myself a challenge of reading 52 books throughout 2018 - a book a week - in an attempt to finally start making my way through my “to read” pile.

And I did it! In fact, I exceeded it with 55 books read in total last year. Since sharing that fact on Instagram, lots of people have asked for my tips on how to read more, and so I thought I’d put them all together for you in a handy little post. Here goes...

1) Read books that you actually enjoy

Okay, so this sounds like a super obvious one, but so many of us pick up books because they look impressive or we think we should be reading them, rather than choosing stuff we’d actually really enjoy. But if you drop the expectations and pressures and plump for the books you know you won’t be able to put down, you’ll get through a lot more of them.

I’ve hardly read any of the classics, but I know if I was trying to force myself to read them, I’d never make reading a priority. Instead I pick the books I know I’ll want to race through, and reading has become a lot more enjoyable! If you’re not sure what kind of books you enjoy most, ask around and get some recommendations to get you started.

2) Take a book with you everywhere

You’ll be surprised just how much time there is for reading if you always carry a book with you. I used to be one of those people who only ever read at home in bed, but last year I made sure I always had a paperback or my Kindle in my handbag, and unsurprisingly, I got through a lot more books.

Whether it’s on the commute, waiting for an appointment at the doctor’s surgery, or simply taking 10 minutes to dip into your novel during your lunch break, those little chunks of time will quickly add up. Plus, you’ll never be mad that your friend is late for your dinner date again if you’ve got a good book with you!

3) Prioritise reading

When I told people how many books I read last year, the overwhelming response was “but where did you find the time!?”. And I get it - we’ve all got very busy lives these days, and reading is rarely a number one priority. But neither is watching Netflix, or scrolling on Instagram, or repeatedly adding and removing things from our ASOS basket, and we all somehow find time to do those things, don’t we?

Committing to reading 52 books in a year meant that I had to put reading ahead of all of those things. Everytime I found myself lost in an Instagram hole, I’d reach for my book. Instead of watching a re-run of Friends for the 15th time, I’d switch the telly off and open my book. Before I knew it, reading became more of a habit than scrolling social media, and I feel all the better for it.

4) Make reading social

It feels like reading has become trendy again over the past few years - do you know what I mean? When I was a teenager, it wasn’t really seen as cool to read, and everyone opted for magazines or films instead. But with the benefits of reading being cited everywhere, it seems like everyone is going back to the good old paperbacks.

And so, use that to your advantage! Go along to a book club in your local area, or if there isn’t one, think about starting one with friends. Shout about what you’ve loved reading on social media, and follow some accounts who share reviews. Pass your favourite books on to friends and ask that they do the same for you - even better, get a date in the diary to swap books and drink wine together. Everyone thinks that reading is a solitary pleasure, but by embracing the social aspect, you might come to love this hobby even more.

5) Track your progress

Last but not least, if (like me!) you’re a little bit competitive, make sure you set yourself a goal and track your progress! Knowing that I had my goal to hit forced me to read my book rather than waste hours on the internet SO many times last year, and I get a real kick out of ticking another book off my list.

I use Goodreads to track the books I read, but you could simply keep a note on your phone, or even share them on Instagram stories so you have a bit of accountability. Either way, knowing how many books you’ve managed to read will give you a real sense of pride.

Do you love reading? And do you have any top tips to help people do more of it?

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