Books / Reading / January 4, 2013

Just Read

Tis the season for goal setting and resolutions, and there have been a handful of different helpful posts about how to read more books this year like this one at on how to read 50 books this year or this one from last year at LifeHack. Posts like these offer concrete plans for increasing your reading consumption, and for many people they provide exactly the route to follow.

I am not much of a planner, though, at least when it comes to reading. To me, a reading plan is like a syllabus – it lays out a homework schedule. And nothing sucks the life and joy out reading quite like having it assigned. But there is much merit in having a strategy (different than a plan) for reading. So here is the strategy I use: If you can read, do so.

On a train? Read. Waiting for the water to boil? Read. Can’t fall asleep? Read. Nothing on TV? Read. Something on TV? Read. You get the point.

“But sometimes I’m not in the mood to read” you say. That just means you’re not reading enough books at once. If you read a biography, a novel or two, a contemporary work of theology or philosophy, a motivational or business book, and a more classic work all at the same time it’s much easier to find the thing you’re in the mood to read. If you’re not in the mood to read what you’re reading go find something else to read. But if you can read, do so.

If you follow this simple strategy you will almost certainly impress yourself with the number of books you can nibble through in a year. You will often feel like your progress is slow until all of a sudden you will complete 3 books in a week. If you are a slow reader or haven’t been in the habit of reading and the idea of finishing 50 books in a year is overwhelming, don’t stress. Just read; read what you can when you can. Fill the small moments with sentences and paragraphs, and you will see the pages turn and the books close over time.


Jan 04, 2013

I haven’t considered reading while waiting for the kettle to boil, but I do always carry an audiobook on my phone in my pocket, and generally get through at least 2 a month, while eating breakfast, wandering around the house tidying it up, walking etc.
Also, listening to the rhythms of prose is great for a writer!

Jan 04, 2013

I read 55+ books in 2012. I keep track on my blog, under Reading Registers. I don’t list the fiction I read in the summer. Thanks for this post and the encouragement to read.

Jan 04, 2013

Several years ago I started keeping a log of everything I read! You are absolutely right to say “just read” – it is amazing to see how many books you can read in a year AND to look back years later to see WHAT you have read! I also have a marking system for fiction, non-fiction, biography, etc., including a “how much did I like this book” as well. Thanks for the encouragement Barna!

Jan 28, 2013

I adopted a similar philosophy when it comes to book consumption. I’ve even managed to read while standing in line at Smoothie King, which, given the swirly-colorful walls and grinding of blenders, is no small feat for me.

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