How I Read Over 50 Books a Year

My top tips for developing a consistent reading habit.

Reading has always been one of my favorite hobbies. Over the past few years, I’ve been diving into books more often than ever, averaging over 50 books every year.

There are so many people who want to read more often, but just can’t seem to find the time or energy. If you’re one of them, I hope these tips can help you to get more reading done:

Reading Multiple Books

I’m always in the middle of several books at once. As I type this, I’ve got two half-read books sitting right next to me: Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson and The End of the Myth by Greg Grandin.

Like I’m currently doing, I’m typically reading at least one fiction book and one non-fiction book. Often, I’ll even have three or four books going at a time.

The reason that this helps me read more is quite simply that it gives me more options. Many times that I feel like I’m not in the mood to read, the truth is that I’m just not in the mood for a particular book.

When I try to read just one book at a time, I’ll find myself going days or weeks without picking it up. By hopping between books, I can stay engaged and interested every time that I read.

Using the Library

Another way that I make sure I’m always interested in reading is by using my local public library constantly.

I used to have a very extensive collection of books that I owned. What I discovered though, is that by relying on my personal collection, I actually reduced my number of choices which discouraged me from reading. Every time that I wanted to start a new book, I’d look through my bookcases, seeing the same books that I had been putting off reading for years.

By using the library, I have access to essentially every book I could ever want. I never feel like I’m compromising when I choose a book. I never start a book simply because I couldn’t find anything better.

These days, when I start a book, it’s always a book that I’m truly interested in and excited to start reading.

Using the library also encourages me to read books more quickly because everything has a due date.

My library is very generous with due dates, allowing me to keep books for a couple of months at a time and never charging fees even when books are late. Even so, having any due date at all helps to keep me on track.

When I own a book, there’s no external pressure to finish it quickly. This means sometimes I’ll set a book aside for so long I forget about it.

I once set a book aside while in the middle of reading it, and forgot to go back to it for an entire year. When I finally decided to finish it, I couldn’t remember anything that had happened. I had to start completely over from the beginning.

With library books, this just doesn’t happen. Either I’ll finish each book within a month or so, or I’ll give up on it.

Giving Up On Books

Part of what has helped me finish so many books is my willingness to give up on books that I don’t like. I used to feel like I had to finish every book that I started. This was a terrible mindset to be in. By giving up on some books, I can actually finish more books overall.

Whenever I try to push myself to finish a book that I don’t really like, I end up dragging it out for way too long. I’ll read just a few pages at a time, wait days between picking the book up, and end up reading much less in general.

A much better choice is to just cut my losses as soon as I decide I don’t like a book. Life’s short, and there’s only so much time we can spend reading. With so many amazing books to choose from, why devote time to reading something we aren’t actually enjoying?

Tracking My Books

For nearly a decade, I’ve kept a dated list of every single book that I read. I started with a text document on my computer, then moved to Library Thing, and finally to Goodreads.

My main reason for keeping the list is pure curiosity. It’s interesting to go back over what I read, looking for trends and spotting old favorites that I had forgotten about.

In addition to this though, keeping a list of the books that I read also helps encourage me to read more. When I see that it’s been a while since I finished a book, I get motivated to pick up my pace. Without tracking books, it would be all too easy for me to go months without reading and not even notice it.

Reading a Wide Variety

I think the biggest mistake that new readers make is when they limit themselves to just one type of book. On web forums, I’ve seen a lot of people write that they are trying to develop a daily reading habit, but their reading lists consist of nothing except self-help books.

There’s nothing wrong with self-help books, but nobody needs to be reading 50 of them each year. I have the most fun reading, and learn the most, when I read a wide variety of materials.

As I mentioned before, I try to always be reading at least one non-fiction book and one fiction book at a time. I also look for variety within those areas.

I aim to read different subjects, genres and lengths, from different time periods, and by a diverse assortment of authors. This keeps reading interesting, which makes reading so many different books a pleasure instead of a chore.

Keeping Books Fun

The common theme in all of these tips is that I try to keep reading fun and interesting. Reading is a hobby — nobody is paying me to get through a book, so there’s no reason to do it if I’m not enjoying it.

The more that you can find ways to make reading fun, the more you’ll read. It’s an obvious point, but an important one.

Far too many people try to force themselves into a reading habit by focusing on page count goals rather than the actual content that they are reading. In order to develop a reading habit that really sticks, forget about the goals and set your primary focus on learning to discover books that you’ll love.

Written by

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more.

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