I’m a big believer in the idea that a voracious reader equals a better writer. The more we read, the more we’re exposed to different styles, topics, inspiration, ideas and knowledge.
I’ve always been a big reader, but the last few years I’ve read well over 100 books each year—not counting the countless blog posts and articles I read online too. To some people, this sounds impossible. For me, it’s impossible to think of a life without reading. I’m a huge advocate for reading more, especially if you’re involved in creative pursuits. Here are a few things that help me read at volume:
1. I don’t own a TV
This is probably the number one factor that helps me read more. I still have programmes I like and watch sporadically but it’s not a default morning/evening activity. That makes a huge difference. When I owned a TV, it would go on in the background when I got up, when I got home, before I went to bed, and during meal times. Now, I can use those times for other activities, including reading.
2. I have an English degree
This means I essentially spent three years with “reading and writing” as my primary occupation. So when people say “I don’t like reading because I’m a slow reader,” I suggest those two things might be related. The less you read, the less experienced you’ll be with reading, and the less enjoyable it will be. Less enjoyment = less reading, and so the cycle continues. I don’t think everyone should get an English degree (I’m the first to admit I’d probably choose another subject if I did it all again). But it’s worth remembering the more experienced reader you become, the more you’ll enjoy it.
On a related note…
3. I read a lot and so read faster
Because I get a lot of reading practice, I read fast and therefore can read more. It’s a virtuous cycle. If I read less, I would also read slower.
4. I listen to audiobooks
Listening to audiobooks isn’t technically reading (and I read far more physical books than I listen to audiobooks) but they are a great alternative for people who don’t like reading or have time to sit down with a book each day. I generally listen to something (whether that’s a podcast or audiobook) at least once per day: while I work, walk, cook, clean, exercise, and so on.
I usually listen to content at 1.5 or 2x speed (someone recently told me I talk too fast—this is probably why). Audiobook narrators tend to speak slowly, especially compared to natural conversation, so I’ve found speeding it up helps me stay more engaged. A side-effect of this is that I get through more audiobooks in less time.
5. It’s a natural part of my daily life
Reading to fall asleep is a habit left over from childhood. It’s a gift and a curse. I can be dog tired but, unless I am falling asleep standing up, if I try to nod off without reading first it feels wrong. Even a couple of pages before I zonk out each night adds up.
6. I mix genres
My taste in books, like my taste in music, is eclectic, and I think this helps. I used to read one book at a time but that’s changed in recent years. I love learning and one of my favourite reading-related past times is to choose a topic and read everything I can find around that topic. When I go on a particular topic kick, I crave different styles of books after a while and this keeps me interested. I might not feel like reading about creativity or psychology every evening, but faced with a choice of creativity, psychology, a mystery thriller or literary fiction, there will be something I can go for.
7. I keep a reading journal
Keeping a reading journal is useful, not only for the memories (being able to look back and remember where you were when you read a particular book is fun) but also for the motivation. I am a competitive person, especially when it comes to competition with myself. I’ve set up a reading journal within Macjournal and can see how many books I’ve read in any month or year at a glance. Goodreads’ annual reading challenge also serves a similar purpose.
How do you make space in your life for reading? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.