Tuesday, November 15, 2011

62 Ways to Read More Than 50 Books a Year

My friends tell me I’m weird, that I don’t have a life.  I’m pretty sure they would say that about anyone who averages 125 books read per year, though, so I don’t take it personally.  Consider, too, that 125 books is a relatively low count when compared to the 250, 300, or 1,000 books that are read every year by some people I’ve met on the Internet (I suppose that means some people are just exceptionally weird).  And, honestly, if you push me hard enough, I’ll tell you how weird I think people are who don’t read more than five or six books a year…or (shudder) even read none.

Now let me tell you about my other life – the one that happens when I’m not reading – the one that takes up most of my time.  I work slightly more than forty hours per week on the job that pays for the books on my shelves.  I am an avid sports fan  (Houston Texans season ticket holder) who attends professional sporting events on a regular basis.  I have three very active grandchildren whom I help cart around all over town to their own activities, activities that often have me in the viewing audience: dance classes and recitals, pee wee league football games, little league baseball games, and the like…and I’m still happily married to the woman who loves to help me decide how we are going to spend our spare time.

So how does anyone read a large number of books per year?  Well, it’s pretty easy, actually.  These tips are guaranteed to up your reading count.  Pick the ones you feel comfortable with, and let me know if they work for you or not.  If you want to add to the list, please let me know and I’ll credit you guys with numbers 55 forward.

  1. Read during your lunch hour, something especially easy to do if you eat at your desk each day
  2. Read the first thing every morning - get up 15 minutes early and begin your day by reading a few pages
  3. Turn off the television set - or, better yet, don't turn it on (See number 4, below)
  4. Use your DVR to record the television you really want to see - quit channel surfing your evenings away
  5. Don't get lost inside Facebook or Twitter for hours and hours of your precious spare time - it's easy to catch up when you log back in
  6. Read while brushing your teeth - especially easy if you use an electric toothbrush with a built in timer
  7. Read when stuck in lines at banks, government offices, etc.
  8. Read while stuck behind long lines of traffic at slow stop lights
  9. Listen to recorded books while commuting
  10. Stay excited and informed about new books being published
  11. Browse bookstores and grab whatever catches your eye - first impressions are important
  12. Find two or three authors whose work you love - and read everything they've written
  13. Change your reading pattern/rut - alternate fiction with nonfiction, biographies with travel books, etc.
  14. Have reading apps on your smart phone - use them when you are trapped in a boring place all alone
  15. Set reading goals and speak of them publicly
  16. Keep a running list of what you read
  17. Join a book club
  18. Visit your local library regularly, especially the "new books section"
  19. Read the classics from your favorite genre - books by the early masters of scifi, mystery, thriller, horror, etc.
  20. Read from a list of winners and nominees: Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Man Booker
  21. Read translated novels and painlessly learn what makes other cultures tick
  22. Specialize in authors from particular countries or geographical regions
  23. Read local authors
  24. Re-read books that excited you as a young reader
  25. Read the classics - guaranteed to be better than you remember them from high school or college
  26. Find a bookstore specializing in what you enjoy reading most
  27. Find a reading buddy or two whose taste and recommendations you can trust
  28. Be a reading mentor to a child or young adult
  29. Use your credit card points to add to your book budget - the Barnes & Noble credit card is perfect for book lovers
  30. Read lots of book blogs, both individual and corporately sponsored ones
  31. Become aware of your activities that do nothing but pointlessly kill time; pick up a book instead
  32. When watching television alone, read during those endless commercial breaks
  33. Always have more than one book in progress
  34. Always know what your next book is going to be
  35. Trade books with friends and family members
  36. Buy used books to stretch your book budget
  37. Become a book collector specializing in an author, genre, publisher, decade, etc.
  38. Attend book signings at local bookstores
  39. Attend public readings at local colleges and universities
  40. Volunteer to read to struggling readers at local elementary schools
  41. Volunteer to read to the elderly with failing eyesight
  42. Read books about books - about bookstores, collectors, fakers, mysteries, libraries
  43. Attend state book festivals - they draw large numbers of authors to one site
  44. Treasure hunt in used book bookstores
  45. Watch movies made from books and compare the two versions (books always win)
  46. Collect signed books
  47. Read debut novels from fresh voices
  48. Participate in web-based book exchanges
  49. Browse the shelves of friends and relatives; you might learn something new about them and yourself
  50. Shop at Friends of the Library book sales
  51. Always carry a spare book in your car - you never know when you're going to need it
  52. Keep an e-book reader in your coat pocket
  53. Take advantage of all the free, or very cheap, e-book offers out there
  54. Read on your monitor screen when all else fails
  55. Read while your small children are napping (courtesy of Jeanne)
  56. Read while nursing your baby (courtesy of Jeanne)
  57. Add valuable reading hours to your week by using public transportation for commuting (courtesy of Ted)
  58. Download audio books to your iPod and listen to them while working out or doing chores around the house (courtesy of Sally)
  59. Keep book of favorite quotes found while reading (courtesy of Susan Sanders)
  60. Read while fishing (courtesy of Susan Sanders)
  61. Read while monitoring kids in bath (courtesy of Susan Sanders)
  62. Read books mentioned in other books you are reading (courtesy of Santosh)


  1. Like the list. My big way of finding reading time- now that I have small children- read while they nap, or play at the park, or best of all, read while the baby nurses.

  2. Lol, the beginning of your post reminded me of a discussion I had with a coworker a while back. She was telling me that, in order to be more relaxed, I should quit reading. My jaw dropped, and I told her that she had basically just said to stop doing one of the activities I most enjoy doing, an activity that (depending on the book) can relax me. This coworker had previously admitted to me that she hasn't read a book in at least 3 years, so I suppose her perspective is very different from mine.

  3. Go Sam!

    I'd add, if it's possible in your area, switch from driving to public transportation. It's better for the environment and you'll get more reading in!

  4. TV is absolutely a time waster. I mused to my husband that I didn't understand how my friends have time to watch so much TV. We never watch except for the occasional Friday Night Lights episode on DVD. (We cancelled our cable 18 months ago.) He noted that the time other people use for TV is time I use to read.

    When I was working, before I was married, people would ask in horror, "What do you DO? You don't have a TV!"

    I would tell them that I tutored algebra at the high school, took Portuguese and salsa classes, gardened, and read. I always wanted to ask them, "What do you do besides watch TV?"

  5. Jeanne, thanks, Your comments have been added to the list as numbers 55 and 56.

  6. Library Girl, I've come to believe that avid readers and non-readers are two different species of human beings. :-)

  7. Thanks, Ted. That's not possible in my commute but I'm adding your thought in as number 57.

  8. Way to go Ms. Factotum. TV is the biggest waste of time in most people's lives and they don't even know it.

    My DVR and NetFlix streaming are my best friends when it comes to fighting my own old TV addition...watching what I want to watch, WHEN I want to see it is great.

  9. Hi Sam and Sam's readers, I loved this post as I, too, am a list keeper. This year I had hoped to break 100 books read but am only at 86 right now. Still, I've beaten my last 3 years' records!

    The best thing since chopped beef for me has been the audio book. I keep one going in my car to keep my blood pressure down on the road, and I download to my ipod so that I can walk, garden, iron, wash the car, etc. while reading. I even painted my house through two Ursula Hegi novels! Oh yes, I still work full time.

    He who doesn't read must be lost.

  10. This is great. We haven't had cable in almost ten years which really gives us lots of time to read. THough I will confess to spending too much time on Facebook lately.

  11. Thanks, Sally. I'm going to use your thoughts as the number 58 suggestion.

  12. James, it's absolutely amazing to me how much time can be saved by just turning off the old idiot box. I'm like you..Facebook is starting to eat up too much of my time. I really need to work on that one.

  13. Some amazing and helpful insights here. I am a very very CONSTANT reader, but not a very prolific one, averaging about 50 books per year, or one a week.
    As to some of your points, I think that a record of readings is important, and I've kept one that stretches back several decades, a listing of all the books I've read and re-read.
    As for your #12, I find that I am very much this way. I find an author that truly resonates with me, and I then sort of try to read everything they've written. I've done this with Jose Saramago, Margaret Atwood, Emma Donoghue, etc., and am now currently trying to achieve this with Don DeLillo and my new fave-fave....... John Updike.
    Thanks for such a terrific idea-blog.

  14. Cip, I do find that keeping a personal record of my reading is a huge motivator...and it's a document that's fun to look back on because I can compare certain stages of my life to what I was reading. That always brings back interesting memories. My list goes back to February 1970.

  15. Great list, I have definitely used many, many of them. (Nursing time was almost my only reading time when my 4 kids were very small.) I also read either to myself, or to the kids, when they are in the bath, (now it's grandkids). And when I accompany my husband on his fishing trips.
    I average a little more than 100 books a year. I like to go from very serious to somewhat lighter fare.
    I have kept a book of quotes from my reading for over 20 years. You know when a sentence or passage is so well written, so insightful, or just "pings" a chord in your heart? You find yourself stopping to read it again and savor it? I write those down, and enjoy going back and rereading them, and noting my progress and changing interests over the years.

  16. One way to add to my reading list is try reading the books mentioned in the book i am reading...its worked very well most of the times..

  17. Thanks, Susan, your ideas have been added to the list. It's now up to 62 ways to read more books.

  18. Thanks, Santosh. Your tip is number 62 on the list of ways to read more books.

  19. Great tips. I always say, read anytime, anywhere, and anyway you can!

  20. Yes! Just came across this somehow, but I totally agree. I easily read at least 100 books a year, not counting what I read for school and what I read online and in magazines, and the way I built up to that is simply by doing most of what you suggest. The more you read, the faster you are, and the more you are interested in reading more. Given that I also watch an excessive amount of television and have two jobs (but, okay, no pets or children), I really cannot abide the excuses of anyone who lives in a first-world nation and not in poverty and yet says they don't have time to read. They're just not willing to make the time.

  21. Thanks for the comment, mclicious. You strengthen my belief that it's all about time being allocated properly...priorities being set, etc.