How to Read 100 Books a Year
Reading books is one of the most beneficial activities you can engage in. I have always loved to read, probably because my parents encouraged the habit when I was young. I would devour so many books that I spent a great deal of my free time in the library and in used book stores looking for something new to read.
There are so many advantages associated with reading. Here are just a few reasons why you should read books regularly:
- Increases the vocabulary
- Increases your knowledge
- Improves writing skills
- Encourages mental stimulation
- Reduces stress
- Increases creativity and imagination
- Improves memory
- Boosts thinking and analytical skills
- Improves focus
- It is entertaining and fun
- Reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and mental decline
- Increases empathy and understanding of the world
- Stimulates curiosity
- Makes you a more interesting person
- Improves leadership skills
- Raises the likelihood of success
- Helps you solve problems
- Improves your career and income
- It is a relatively inexpensive hobby
The list can go on… In fact, reading is one of the best hobbies you can possibly have. Naturally, the more books you read, the bigger the impact on your life. Some people simply do not read, especially those who were not encouraged to do so when they were younger. Others liked to read when they were children but have fallen out of the habit. And then there are those who love it and would like to increase the number of books they read each year. Even if you are currently not in the habit of reading, it is never too late to start.
Can you imagine the benefits of reading 100 books each year? Think that is too much? What about 50 or even 30 books per year? The point is to read more. Once you are in the habit of doing so, you can increase the number of books as you get more proficient at it. After a long hiatus from reading regularly, I resumed my love affair with books a few years ago and it has changed my life for the better. I am currently on pace to read about 80 books this year and my goal is to read 100 books next year. You do not have to read 100 books a year. Pick the number of books you want to read and follow the strategies below to help you accomplish that goal.
How does one read 100 books a year (or whatever number you prefer)? There are numerous strategies that help increase your reading capacity. Here is how to read more books each year:
Set Aside Specific Times to Read
One of the ways to increase the number of books you read each year is to set aside specific times each day for reading. I have formed a daily routine that encompasses reading time early in the morning when I wake up and in the evening before bed. I wake up early, brush my teeth, make a cup of tea, and then I sit on the couch and read for at least 15 minutes. This is my quiet time and it affords me a great start to my day. I also read in bed for at least an hour before I go to sleep. On weekends, I will often extend these reading periods and sometimes read in the afternoons. No matter what your daily schedule is like, designate specific times to read, no matter how brief a period. You can schedule several such periods in a day. You will get used to the routine and look forward to the time you spend with your books.
Read Books that Interest You
This might seem obvious, but it is important to read books that interest you, especially if you are not yet an avid reader. All of us are different and have different interests so read books that you think you will enjoy. For example, I am a big fan of nonfiction, especially memoirs and biographies. I also enjoy books that focus on psychology and human development. Naturally, I gravitate towards these kinds of books and that helps me read more. Whether you like science fiction, crime thrillers, business, romance, history or travel books, choose books that focus on your interests.
Read Easy Books that You Understand First
If you are just starting out to read or have been out of practice for a while, begin with books that are easy to read. This means reading books that you are able to understand. There is no shame in this because there are certain books that are way above your level of comprehension, no matter how smart you are. For example, a person might find a book on quantum physics within his sphere of interest and understanding but may not be able to understand a book on the theory of Baroque music. By reading the books that you find easier to read first, you will hone your reading skills and be able to progress to more difficult ones later.
Read Both Long and Short Books
Some books are extremely long and take a longer time to read while some are short and require much less time. For example, the book Moby Dick by Herman Melville has 720 pages and is a great read. Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, on the other hand, only contains 96 pages, but is also a wonderful book. I suggest reading books of various lengths in order to keep it fresh and to maintain your interest. Another reason is because one cannot judge the quality of a book by the number of pages it contains.
Break it Down into Pages
One way to read a specific number of books each year is to break down the goal into smaller goals. Rather than focusing on reading 100 books a year, break that down into small chunks with a goal of reading a specific number of pages per day. For example, if your aim is to read 50 books a year and we assume that each book contains an average of 300 pages, that equates to reading 15,000 pages in 365 days, or about 41 pages per day. Now you have a daily reading target of 41 pages, which appears a lot more manageable, especially if you follow the other strategies listed on this page.
Always Have a Book On Hand
This strategy has made a big impact on the number of books I read per year. I am almost never without a book or ebook in my possession (I said, “almost”!). Whether it is in the form of hard copy or electronic copy, having a book to read at any opportune time is a highly effective way to increase the number of books you will read in a year. Simply having the book accessible will encourage you to read more. I found that this one strategy helped me make reading something that I was more conscious about. It became more prevalent and important in my life. Especially with the ability to take your books with you on your phone, tablet, or laptop, it is now easier than ever.
Read While Waiting and During Down Time
You will be amazed at how much time we have to actually read more. Think about all the times you had a few minutes to kill so you kept checking your text message or Facebook. I have read books while waiting for the dentist, while waiting at an airport, on the plane, while on the treadmill, at Starbucks, etc. You can read a few pages while waiting in line or killing time. Every page makes a difference in your quest to read more.
Buy a Kindle or Tablet
I know that a lot of people prefer the tactile feel of a hard copy book compared to an ebook version. I understand this preference and own hundreds of print books myself. However, I love the convenience and features of reading on a tablet. I currently use an iPad to read my books. As a result, I am able to have hundreds, if not thousands, of books at my disposal at any one time. I even download ebooks from my local library for free. I also love the immediacy of downloading a book that I bought from Amazon in seconds. Kindles and other tablets are so portable and convenient.
Download Reading Apps
There are numerous reading apps available these days that make downloading and reading books so much easier. For example, I use the Kindle app on my phone and iPad to download and read any book I purchase from Amazon. Apple has its own book reading app. You can conveniently download these apps to your phone and read your books any time you choose.
Listen to Audiobooks
Audiobooks are a good way to supplement your reading habit. It also is highly useful for those who hate to read or have reading difficulties. While I do not listen to audiobooks, I know quite a few people that do and they love it. You can listen to an audiobook when you are driving, or late at night when your eyes are tired, or with headphones while exercising.
Learn to Read Faster
You might think that I am going to suggest learning to speed read here, but I am not going to. During speed reading the reader might read faster but the level of comprehension goes down. I read faster now than I ever have. What did it? Reading more. The more you do something, the more proficient you become at it, and reading is no different. If you are not in the habit of reading, you will read at a slower pace because your eyes, focus and other reading factors are ‘out of shape’. Read at a pace that you are comfortable with, and one that allows you to comprehend what you are reading. In time, with practice, you will increase the speed of your reading.
Find Books that Have Practical Applications in Your Life
One way to increase your interest and motivation to read more is to read books that focus on subjects that you can apply practically in your life. For example, let’s say you are planting a vegetable garden in your backyard. You would likely be interested in a book depicting beautiful backyard vegetable gardens, or a book that teaches you how to grow healthy vegetables with organic soil. I love books that I can learn from and then apply what I learned in my life. It is a way to learn new skills and improve your abilities in interests that you already have.
Read Books from Different Genres to Keep It Fresh
Some people like to read only 1 or 2 specific genres, and that is perfectly ok. However, if you find that the books you are getting tedious, it might be time to try different subjects and topics to invigorate you. For example, there was a time when I was reading quite a few books in succession that dealt with World War II. I initially found the books fascinating because I did not know much about the subject (but wanted to), and many of the true accounts were gripping. However, after reading 4 or 5 books on the subject, I began to get a little bored so I switched to a different subject which was refreshing and captivating. So do not be afraid to try something new.
Join a Library
One of the best decisions I made last year was to join my local county library. It was free to join and I now borrow at least 50 books a year. I was surprised to learn that they had many books that were on the New York Times bestseller list, as well as contemporary and classic literature. And it will save you money!
Join Amazon and Goodreads
Amazon and Goodreads are both great resources for the voracious reader. Since I have purchased and rated books on Amazon before, the software suggests books that I might like based on the previous books I looked at and purchased. In addition to that, I think that Amazon’s reviews are extremely helpful in choosing books to read. Goodreads is almost like a book club. If you enter the books you have read and you rate them, Goodreads will suggest books for you. In addition to that, it is a wonderful way to connect with other readers, view their reading lists, discuss books, and find exciting new books to read. It also is free.
Use the Dictionary Feature in Apps
A fantastic feature that most electronic book readers offer is a built in dictionary. I absolutely love this! Rather than pick up a heavy dictionary to check the meaning of a word that I do not understand, I can place my finger on the tablet screen above the word and a dictionary will pop open and give me the definition. I cannot tell you how many new words I have learned as a result of this feature because it is so convenient. It saves you time and helps you read faster.
Make a Reading List
I like to make a list of the books that I would like to read. It makes it easy to start reading a new book as soon as I complete another one. My current reading list consists of about 20 books. When I am done with one book, I can immediately buy a book on my reading list from Amazon and start reading it right away, or I can download it from the library if it is available.
Know How and When to Skip Fluff
Although I generally read a book in its entirety, there are times when I skip certain parts of a book. I choose to do this when the author is a little too long-winded or if that part of the book contains too much fluff. This is especially true when it comes to self-help books, or “How To” books. If I have grasped a concept or a topic, I skip it to save time. It is important to know when to skip parts of a book because you do not want to miss anything important.
Stop Reading a Book If You Do not Like it
In general, I always try to finish reading a book I started. However, there are times when it is ok, even preferable, to stop reading a book. This is especially true when the book is badly written, full of fluff, way too difficult to understand, or is just too boring to hold your interest. We need to be honest with ourselves when deciding if we should stop reading a book midway through. Reading should be fun and interesting. Use that as your guide.
Reading More than One Book at the Same Time
Sometimes I will be in the middle of 2 books at the same time. For example, I am currently reading an intense memoir that talks about religious cults, and I am also reading a business success book. They are so different in nature that I alternate between the 2 books, depending on my mood. Because they are so different, I do not get confused or find it difficult to concentrate while reading either book. This helps me increase the number of books I read and it can help you, too. Just make sure that the 2 books are sufficiently diverse.
Staying On Theme
In contrast to the earlier strategy of reading books from different genres and on a variety of subjects, sometimes it is best to stay on theme. This allows you to immerse yourself in the subject you choose. Each subsequent book on that subject likely gets easier to read because you have already read about it. For example, the first book I read about Germany and World War II was a little challenging for me to read because I knew so little on the topic. However, the next book on the same subject was easier to read and I began to enjoy it more.
Buy Books in Bulk
One idea to help you read more is to buy book books in bulk. Many online stores offer bulk discounts that will save you money so that you can read more books. Another way is to visit garage sales and used book stores and buy many books at a time.
Choose a New Book Before You Finish Reading the Current One
I am a big believer of having a book picked out to read before you finish the current one. First of all, I love the act of choosing a new book to read. I enjoy reading the reviews, both by the press and average readers. Secondly, having a book in cue allows me to start a new book as soon as I finish an old one. There is no reading lapse and that helps you to read more books each year.
Read Instead of Watching TV
One of the best decisions I made in the last few years was to watch little to no TV and to use that time to read instead. While not all TV is bad, a lot of it is frivolous, violent, negative, full of commercialism, and lacking in artistic merit. When I do watch TV, I generally watch documentaries on PBS, National Geographic, or the Smithsonian channels. I do make a few exceptions, but I now use most of my TV time to read good books. If you want to read 100 books a year, cut back or eradicate your TV time.
Read Instead of Surfing the Internet
Another way to read more books each year is to be discriminate about what you read on the internet. It is easy for us to get sucked into the online world, checking our Facebook account every 20 minutes, browsing Pinterest for hours, checking email every hour, reading frivolous news, etc. I prefer to spend that time reading books that will help me be a better person.
Join a Book Club and Make it Social
A good way to get more out of your books and encourage yourself to read more is to join a book club. Most cities have multiple book clubs formed by people who love to read. Some of them have their own themes, for example a Sci-Fi book club. Others are more general in nature. Book club members often meet to discuss certain books, exchange books, and just have fun. Another idea is to gather a group of your friends together and make the commitment to read. You can exchange books, organize book readings, discuss your thoughts on a book, get help if you do not understand a book, etc.
One thing I have discovered is that reading is more fun and productive when I am well-rested. When I am extremely tired, I read more slowly, take longer to understand what I am reading, and I have less fun doing it. It is best to read when you are awake and rested. Your focus will be sharper and you will read faster as well as retain more of what you read.
Scan Reading Lists
Reading lists are a compilation of books that people put together based on an interest or goal. They are an effective way to discover books that you might like and not find on your own. Amazon and Goodreads both have lists compiled by their customers and users. Newspapers, magazines, and numerous web sites also offer their own reading lists (for example, New York Times Best sellers). Find reading lists you like and follow the people who compiled those lists to find great books and read more.
Expand Your Peripheral Vision
If you want to read more books, try expanding your peripheral vision. There are numerous web sites that help you do that (http://www.insanity-mind.com/increase-peripheral-vision/, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aunC2sSjvC8). When you increase your peripheral vision, you will be able to read faster. There is a limit to its effectiveness, however, if you also want to comprehend what you are reading, which is important.
Sometimes, I will read a book summary on the very book that I just finished reading. What that does is reinforce what I just learned. It also helps me to remember the most important parts of the book and retain more. This often helps me read other related books faster because I find it easier.
Create Family Reading Time
Another way to read more books is to create family reading time. Rather than watch TV or play video games, designate a time when the whole family can get together to read. It is a great way to encourage kids to get in the habit of reading and to spend quality time together.
Create a Comfortable Reading Spot
If you want to read more, it helps if you have one or more comfortable places you can go to to enjoy your books. Besides reading in bed, I also have a bright lamp near my living room couch (there is no TV in that room), along with a coffee table and some flowers to make it cozy. This is my favorite reading spot. I also like to read while sitting on my patio table near my backyard, surrounded by nature. You can even pick your favorite tree in the park or your local coffee house. Find or create your own cozy spot and read on!
Eliminate Distractions and Focus
One of the reasons I am on pace to read 80 books this year is because I have learned to focus and reduce or eliminate distractions when I am reading. Because I set aside designated times to read, I ensure that I have no other responsibilities during that period. I monotask and do not try to read and do other things simultaneously.
While reading is tremendous fun and extremely rewarding, I do sometimes take a break from it. For me, this rarely lasts more than a day before I miss reading. If you find yourself tired or burned out, take a short break from reading to rejuvenate yourself. It is perfectly ok as it will help you read with extra vigor when you resume.
Make Reading Fun
The most important thing when it comes to succeeding at your reading goal is to have fun. Look at reading as your personal time and enjoy every minute of it. Do not look at reading as a chore that you must complete. Read books that you like, let your imagination run wild as you read, and appreciate the adventure!