How To Read More & Meet Your Reading Goal This Year

Last year, one of my goals was to make reading a priority in my life. I’ve always been a reader but sometimes it’s easier to let it fall out of your habits. What I do know is that I am happier when I’m reading. For me, it’s a great way to relax and also to explore. To learn and to escape. Depending on what book I pick up it really can be anything I need. Which is why I decided it was important for me to read more and set the goal of 30 books for the year.

Guess what? Not only did I read 30 but I read 40! Well beyond my goal and by far the most I’ve ever read. Making reading a bigger part of 2017 is one of the reasons it was a great year. This year, I’m aiming to match 40 but will be trying to go beyond even that.

If you want to read more in your life, whether it’s finishing five books or fifty it’s something you can do by making simple changes. Here are a handful of things I’ve worked at to make sure I keep reading as a priority in my life.

Always Carry A Book With You & Pull It Out Instead Of Your Phone

It’s so easy for us to play on our phones when you are killing time. Whether you’re waiting for an appointment, a flight, your car to be serviced or to pick someone up, we have lots of spare minutes in the day. What if instead of checking Facebook or playing a game on your phone you read a chapter in a book.

A book bag, sunglasses, and a book all on a deck next to water.

The first way to make this happen is to have a book on your at all times. You can do this by carrying a physical book, but even easier is by having a Kindle with you or a book downloaded on your phone (in audio or digital form). Keeping a book on you and reading it in these short bursts will let you get through more books than you think.

Join A Book Club

Find a group of people that you enjoy seeing and that challenge you to get out of your reading comfort zone a bit. You might meet once a month or every few. Either way, having people who hold you accountable in your reading and that you want to talk with about your reading is a great way to read more.

My book club doesn’t just talk about the books we selected but all the other books we read as well. Giving me even more inspiration to read.

If you don’t have the time, or the group of people, to have a traditional book club think of joining an online one. I absolutely love Book of the Month Club! I started it as a gift and have kept it going. It’s gotten me to read things I would never have picked up otherwise and since they always have great books I knew I had to finish enough of my stack to rationally getting one.

Buy A Kindle If You Haven’t Already

I love physical books and I still read plenty of them but having my Kindle has greatly increased how much I read. It’s the easiest way to carry multiple books with you while traveling. Which is great when you’re about to finish one on the road, you’ll already have the other one done.

Kindle with text being held by someone sitting on grass.

Another reason my Kindle helps me read more is that it allows me to read cheaper! There are so many quality books that go for $1.99 or $2.99 on the Kindle but instead would be $9.99 in paperback. I still buy from local stores for my physical books but at least half of what I read is on the Kindle, saving me a ton. For finding deals, I love Modern Mrs. Darcey’s Daily Kindle Deals.

Start Using Audiobooks

Not everyone considers listening to an audiobook the same as reading, but I think they are wrong. And there is no way I’d reach the number of books each year without including audiobooks.

This isn’t about a number but instead of enjoying the stories and learning something new. My favorite audiobooks tend to be memoirs that are read by their authors but every once in awhile I throw in some fiction as well.

Audiobooks allow you to read when you otherwise couldn’t, they can also help you make the most of tasks you don’t always enjoy. I get a book a month from Audible and additional ones from the library.

Listen To Audiobooks During Other Tasks Like Driving & Dishes

So now that I’ve got you using audiobooks it’s time to make sure you use them! I try and fit them in whenever I’m doing tasks I don’t particularly like. For me those include driving, especially in traffic, doing the dishes and cleaning around the house.

If I throw on a book for the 15 to 30 minutes it gets me a dent in a book and can easily add up to a couple hours in a day.

Use Your Library

Being a reader can be an expensive habit if you don’t watch it. A great way to avoid racking up the costs when you’re working to read more is using your local library.

Stacks of books in a library.

I’m not very good at remembering to return books to the library, but this is where my Kindle comes in again. My local public library has an excellent selection of digital books that I always have one or two on my Kindle. And the best thing is they disappear as soon as they are due! So not late fees and loads of books!

Read For 30 Minutes At Lunch & 30 Minutes Before Bed

While there are some days that I can read for a couple hours, most of my reading happens in 30 minute or shorter stints. At the same time, for that to work you need to make it a habit and these are two that work for me.

When I started a new job last year I was told I had to take a lunch each day, legally required yes, something I’d ever done before, no. So what I do is step away from my computer screen, go outdoors on a nice day, and read and eat for 30 minutes. Not only has it made a huge difference in being able to read more, it’s also helped me get through the day. Taking a mental break and one from staring at the screen has been a huge change in my life.

Woman sitting on a bed with a book and a cup of coffee.

The same goes for reading before bed. It’s easy to stare at a screen up till the minute you climb into bed and we all know that’s no good for our sleep. So turning off the TV and the computer about 30 minutes before I get ready for bed and picking up a book serves both my goal to read more and improving my sleep.

Stop Reading A Book You Dislike

“Life’s too short to read bad books..” is a quote I’ve been trying to live by. While I give books a chance if I’m not into the book at 50 pages or 100 pages I put it down. That doesn’t mean you have to love the book but you have to feel you’re getting something out of it. If not, it will slow down your reading. You can always pick it back up but don’t let having a bad book stop you from reading more.

Have A Stack Of Books Ready To Go

One thing that deters our reading is not having a book ready to go immediately after you finish a book. If I finish a good book I’m often ready to jump into another one right away.

Stack of library books on a desk with lamps.

Keeping a stack of books (whether physical or digital) is a great way to be ready to go and reduce the time between books.

However, It Works for You, Read More

How much you read, how many books you get through, and how you do it is different for everyone. What’s most important is that you read in the way best for you. I know some years life won’t let me read 40 books but I think this one will so I will do what I can to make it happen now.

If you’re looking for some reading inspiration to get you started, check out my reading recommendations from 2017 and a few books to get you through a long flight.

If you’ve got more ways to work reading into your life let me know in the comments below.

About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the non-profit world in California. She focuses on exploring the world from her own backyard to across the globe. You'll find her sharing about explorations through food, books, travel, and more.