Seven Secrets to Reading More Books

Pile of books

I should read more.

No matter how much or how little we read, it never feels like enough.

Maybe you enjoyed reading in high school but can no longer find the time. Or maybe you read 50 books a year but want to read even more.

The seven tips below will help you do just that.

1. Make time to read

These days we have Netflix, smartphones, Youtube, and the NBA playoffs competing for our relaxation time. Squeezing in a few books can be difficult, but it’s not impossible.

If you scan your schedule, you should be able to find a few chunks of time that could be conducive to reading. For example, when I was taking Chinese classes I rode the bus to class and back. When I didn’t have a quiz or test to study for I would read.

The bus ride was about 20 minutes each way. That’s 40 minutes of reading time. Even a slow reader like me can turn a lot of pages in 40 minutes.

Maybe you can read during lunch. Maybe before bed. Maybe right after you wake up. Carve little reading blocks into your schedule and stick to them.

2. Read even when you don’t want to

Reading is like pumping a well. Sometimes you need to crank that handle for a while before water gushes out.

Even a nail-biter of a book can take a long time to gain steam when compared to movies and television. If you want to read more, you’ll have to accept that sometimes you need to spend a few hours with a book before it draws you in and refuses to let go.

On the other hand, if you find you’re always forcing yourself to read, perhaps you need to …

3. Read books you love

Seriously. Life is short. You might die tomorrow. Do you want to spend your last day on earth reading space opera drivel by L. Ron Hubbard when there are so many better choices available?

Don’t hesitate to abandon a book you aren’t enjoying, especially if you’re still struggling to form a reading habit.

Good books beget avid readers. Bad books cause people’s eyes to fall out. (Good thing we have audiobooks!)

4. Find your niche

Do you like science fiction? Fantasy? Romance? Thrillers? Mysteries?

Without experimenting it can be hard to know. I used to think myself an avid sci-fi and fantasy fan, but over the last few years I’ve realized that well-written mysteries also captivate me.

Once you find a few authors you like, it becomes easier to find more books you’ll like. You’ll narrow down your tastes and won’t waste time reading books you don’t enjoy.

5. Read what you want to read, not what you should read

There’s no greater buzzkill than doing what you should do instead of what you want to do.

Your friend tells you that you really should read War and Peace, because it’s the most epicly long epic novel of all time, but you’d rather read L. Ron Hubbard? Great!

People have been telling you for years about what a wonderful book 1984 is, but you’d prefer to read Fifty Shades of Grey? No problem!

Writing that last sentence may have caused vomit to spontaneously materialize on my keyboard. Excuse me for a moment while I clean it up.

Anyway, the point is that it doesn’t matter what I think you should read, what your mom thinks you should read, or what Oprah thinks you should read. You should read what you want to read. And maybe later, once you’ve gotten a few books under your belt, you’ll be ready to indulge in these literary classics that your friends and enemies have been foisting on you for years.

6. Always have the next book ready

Want to know the secret to reading less?

Read one book. Then wait weeks, months, or years before picking up another.

There is no better way to read fewer books, short of never starting any books at all.

I usually have the next book locked and loaded. If I haven’t decided which book I’ll read next, I keep a few options on the carousel so that I can choose one and start flipping the pages.

When I finish one book, I’m either so excited about reading that I want to start a new book the very same day, or I’m so fed up with having wasted my time on a terrible book that I want to find a better one ASAP.

By always having a book waiting in the firing chamber, I’m prepared for both contingencies.

7. Use technology to your advantage

Technology destroyeth attention spans. I know. You know. Your Facebook friends know.

But what technology destroyeth it can also saveth. (Although mayhaps ye old English is beyond saving.)


This is 2015. The future is now!

Next year will be 2016. But … the future is still now!

I have two (futuristic!) tech tips for you.

Sign up for a Goodreads account (and use it!)

Reading is social. Believe it or not your friends read. Sign up for Goodreads and you will discover this for yourself.

And if your friends don’t read, you can make friends that do.

Goodreads will help you track your reading progress. Its book recommendations aren’t half bad either. Check it out.

Consider getting your grubby paws on e-book reader

I know some people appreciate the feel of dead trees in their hands. And even though I’m a card-carrying member of the e-reader revolution, I too occasionally enjoy paging through a real book.

On the other hand, real books are inconvenient. If there’s a particular book you want to read, you have to track it down. That means either driving to a bookstore or library, or ordering it online waiting for it to be shipped down a certain river that’s shorter than the Nile but longer than the Yangtze.

With an e-book reader you have instant access to hundreds of thousands of books. Anytime. Anywhere.

Better yet, the latest readers have immaculate, high-resolution screens. The words on my Kobo are every bit as clear as those in a real book. And because it uses e-ink it’s not hard on the eyes like an ordinary smartphone or tablet.

I love my Kobo. Many others will wax poetic about a certain Amazonian product instead. Whichever reader you choose, a limitless realm of digital books awaits.

Header photo by Callum Scott

Henry Olsen

Writer, adventurer, and humble servant of the universe since 1986.