5 Tips to Read More Books in 2021
As a bookworm who’s passionate about reading, I talk to people about books a lot. Something I hear over and over is, “I wish I could find time to read more.” If this is you, read on.
I never needed convincing in order to make time to read, and until two years ago, I averaged a respectable 24 books a year, or two books a month. But then I realized that for me, feeling successful has less to do with how much money I earn, and more to do with how much time I’m able to spend on the people and activities that I love. So I started to work on ways to fit more reading into my life, and to my great surprise, I saw immediate, enormous results.
2019 was a tough year. We had just opened the second ShopEco location and my workload had increased dramatically, my husband and I moved suddenly in order to become caregivers for a family member, and I was having my own health issues to boot. But despite all that, I was able to increase the number of books I read to 39. And I did feel successful!
2020 - well, I don’t have to tell you about the challenges of 2020. Some of us found ourselves with more free time than we could have ever wanted, but others - moms, healthcare workers, and entrepreneurs, to name a few - struggled to keep up with the demands of the times. But again I increased my book tally, this time to 54. The sense of accomplishment was real.
This week, I’m sharing with you the five things I did that allowed me to more than double the number of books I read in a year.
1. Make a plan
Decide how many books you want to read this year. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. A good rule of thumb is, take the number of books you read last year and increase it by half. So if you read two books last year, aim for three. If you read ten, aim for 15.
The first year I tried increasing my book count, I started off aiming for 100 books in a year. I quickly realized that this created way too much pressure and took the enjoyment out of the endeavour. So I pared back to a more comfortable, but still challenging, number.
Something to bear in mind: The type of book you’re reading will influence how many books you can get through in a set period. In general (but with exceptions), modern fiction will be fastest to read. Classic fiction, somewhat slower. Nonfiction, the slowest.
Next, choose the books you want to read. This is about quality. When you preselect all of your books for the year, you’re still allowed to change your mind later. But once your books are chosen, for every book you add to your stack, you’ll have to take one away. This will keep you from getting swept up with every new bestseller and ending up with no time left for that Twain or Tolstoy novel you’ve always wanted to read.
2. Track your progress
This was the biggest game changer for me. I’ve kept a book journal since 2011, where I record each book I read and my thoughts on it. But in 2020, I started using the Goodreads app, which allows you to set an annual reading goal, and then tracks your progress as you finish each book. At a glance, you can see whether you’re ahead, on track, or behind on your goal. This is invaluable for a target that’s many months away, and keeps you from procrastinating to a point where it’s impossible to catch up.
3. Make time
It would be nice if we all had an uninterrupted hour or two a day to work on our reading goal. For most of us, that’s not the case. But what’s surprising is that we can get more reading done than we think by fitting a page or two into all of the little in-between times.
Standing in line, being on hold, sitting in the car waiting for everyone else to get in, or waiting for water to boil. Give up scrolling on your phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and read instead. Or, download an audiobook (yes, audiobooks count) and listen while you drive, exercise, or get ready in the morning. I do about 75% of my reading by fitting it into small moments like this.
4. Connect with other readers
This will inspire you and give you more energy to keep moving toward your goal. Swap books with friends and family. When you’re making small talk, ask, “What are you reading right now?” Connect with other book lovers online (try following book-related Instagram hashtags such as #bookstagram or #goodreads). Friend me on Goodreads!
5. Keep it fun
This is not meant to become a chore. It’s about doing more of what you enjoy! So do choose a book or two that are outside of your comfort zone or your usual topics. But for the most part, just read what you like and don’t worry about whether it’s cool enough or intellectual enough or if it’s on the latest “best books” list.
This week, decide how many books you want to read this year, and have some fun selecting them (note: you don’t have to buy/borrow them all at once - a list works just as well as a physical stack).
What’s the first book on your list? Let me know in the comments below!
Debra Purdy is the owner of ShopEco, a voracious reader, and a bona fide skin care fanatic. Current skin care obsession: Veriphy Power Trip Facial Serum. Current read: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.