How to Read (More)

Believe it or not, you have more time to read than you think. Here are some practical tips to help you work through that lengthy reading list.

On average, I read 2-4 books per month, but I’m just as busy as you are. I’m a husband, homeowner, 2x dog owner, blogger, itunes addict (which, you know can be quite time-consuming), I work full-time as a freelance editor and author, plus I have a part-time job, and on top of that, working through the process of adoption. So I’m pretty busy just like you. And just like you, I have a long reading list that I’m just dying to dig into (it’s over 100 books long). The most likely difference between you and me is that I am steadily making my way through it.

Jealous? Just follow my five simple tips and soon you’ll find yourself marking up your reading list with check marks and critical notes. Enjoy, and happy reading! Oh, and speed-reading is not required.

Waiting in Line

1. Determine your downtime

Whether you know it or not, you have at least an hour of downtime every day. It may come in small 5 minute increments throughout, but the trick is to be aware of them, and have your book (or e-reader) handy. For instance, take your book with you whenever you’re in the car. I can read a good page to page-and-a-half at any given red light. Look for times when you’re just standing with nothing to do, like you’re in line at the DMV, or the post office, or even when you’re waiting for your egg to boil. If you live in an apartment complex, you can’t just let your dogs out in the backyard; you’ve got to stand with them on a leash. So while you’re waiting for them to do their thing, instead of pestering them to hurry up, dig your nose in your book and you’ll find you’re both more relaxed. Also, take your book to work and read on your lunch break. Another tip: I know it’s almost blasphemous, but wake up a few minutes early or go to bed a few minutes late to finish that chapter.


2. Put your bookmark to good use

It sounds silly, but make your bookmark work overtime. How many minutes have you wasted opening up to the page you left off on only to re-read what you’ve already read? To apply this tip, face the bookmark forward or backwards depending on what page you were on. Furthermore, move your bookmark around, strategically positioning it to line up with the sentence you left off on. It’s a small gesture, but it works wonders!


3. Start a blog

I’m serious. Start blogging about what you’re reading and share it with your friends and family. I know you’re thinking, “That’s just going to take up more time that I don’t have.” Trust me. When you finish a book, just take a few minutes to write your review on your blog, and soon you’ll start gaining followers and you’ll delight in sharing your reading list with people, and it’s also a way to hold you accountable as people will be expecting more from you. Think of it as an e-motivator, or a sort of online reading group that you’re pioneering. Another good site to write and get reviews is Good Reads.


4. Turn the TV off

Unorthodox as it may seem, you should try substituting a half hour of TV a week with reading. Everyone spends a good amount of time in front of the TV, whether it’s during breakfast or dinner. Maybe every now and then, suggest to your viewing partner that you both read, together or separate, instead. My wife and I have done this, and can’t believe how refreshing it is, and we look forward to the next time! It also generates more conversation than HGTV does.


5. Arrange your books by season

Strange as it sounds, you should arrange your books by season. What I mean is this. If the next book on your list is a baseball book, you should read it during the spring or summer time. If it’s a Dickens book, you might want to read that during the holidays, as his books are more cozy while curling up next to a warm fire or watching the snow fall soundlessly outside your window. I know you can’t do this with all books like business profiles and many history books, but apply this to the books that you can. Doing this will help set the mood and feel for the book you’re reading, thus you’ll be more immersed in its story because you’ll feel like you’re there and you’ll have just a little bit more of a connection with the characters.

Comment bellow and share with everyone your tricks for finding time to read.

About Andrew Toy
Writer when I'm not being a husband or dad. So mostly just a husband and dad.

60 Responses to How to Read (More)

  1. Great advice — all of it! Glad to know others have a mile-long to-read list. Here’s a quick review for you: “Surviving the Island of Grace” by Lesley Leyland Fields is a literary adventure/memoir set on a remote Alaskan fishing island. Reading it is time well-spent.

  2. bwbyars says:

    Great tips. You’ve quickly become the blog to which I look the most forward each day. Your seasonal tip is dead-on with me. Something about the cooler, crisper air makes me reach for the fantasy shelf each Autumn and Winter. The funny thing is that my 8-year-old pretty much follows all your tips already. We laugh that when we can’t find her, she must be lost in a book somewhere.
    My son was not much of a reader, but once he discovered audiobooks, he is always sneaking off to his room to listen to another one. I used to have a 45-minute commute to work. I “read” through the Bible a few times that year with the aid of Max McLean’s ESV mp3s.

  3. Kelly says:

    Thank you! I’ve been wanting to know how to read all of those books on my list for a long time. I’ll try to put your advice into practice!

  4. Put your time waiting in the bathroom to good use.

  5. I loved your tips. I actually schedule a chapter a day into my planner as well as reading of 10 blogs. Today yours is one of my 10. I am finding over time I can actually stretch that to a larger number, but when I started getting to 10 was a difficult thing. I had to give myself time to develop the habit.

  6. Rosemary says:

    Point #1 is key. It’s just too easy to fritter away spare time if you don’t remain conscious of it. That’s my downfall.

  7. Rosemary says:

    Reblogged this on The Eloquent Word and commented:
    Point #1 is key for me. Scheduling reading time sounds silly, but it really does work!

  8. Halim says:

    Your ideas sound refreshing and fun. Thanks for sharing. I like the one about putting the bookmark to better use best.

  9. jimrada says:

    Does using the text-to-speech function on my Kindle while I run in the mornings count as a way to help me read more?

  10. Jason Vaughn says:

    I love the tip on arranging books by season!

  11. leesha0304 says:

    I especially like #4 – sitting in front of the TV becomes so mind numbing after awhile and I know a lot of people that will sit and watch a show that they don’t even like because they’re bored. Reading is so much better for your brain than zoning out in front of the TV. 🙂 Thanks for the tips!

    • Sarabeth and I are very strict about what we watch. If it’s not real quality, clean, and/or extremely interesting, we won’t waste time watching it, thus helps cut down on TV time. Being a tough critic is crucial in this area (plus, it sends the networks a message if more people cut out crap shows).

  12. Good points all. I have been trying to get in more reading lately. I’d never have thought to arrange books by seasons, but I’m going to try that. Careful reading at red lights though – here in Florida someone is likely to think you’re asleep and go nuclear on you…:-)

    • Yeah, you’ve just got to show them you know what you’re doing. Glance up at the light at the end of every line or sentence, keep a blinker on if needed… you’ll get better with practice.

  13. Reblogged this on Books, Books, and more Books and commented:
    Good tips to help you finish more books. I would add that getting the audiobook version of books on your list is also helpful. Instead of reading at a read light as the author suggests you can listen to a book your whole car trip.

  14. KJ says:

    Reblogged this on my[life] and commented:
    I have been slacking on my reading (and writing), so this was definitely a welcomed read! Now, time to get back on the bandwagon!

  15. Loved reading your top tips – I find that I now automatically do Number 2 with the bookmark to make sure I am not re-reading the same paragraph – glad I am not the only one that does this. I also agree that blogging about books helps you to focus on finishing a novel before starting a new one and completing it in a timely fashion as people will start to expect regular updates from you.

  16. ae.i says:

    Nice! I think #4 should also say “leave your smartphone alone”. I am amazed how many people don’t read any printed book anymore but prefer to get entertained online instead.

    Combine that with #1 and we would only see people reading while walking rather than texting while walking. I’d prefer the excuse of being lost in a good text to “My friend needed a 10th confirmation that the green trousers go well with the red sweater.” 😉

  17. ahermens says:

    Great blog. Well done. Especially the TV. We have a rule in the house of no TV on Mondays….might extend that to Monday to Wednesdays !

  18. That’s awesome. I actually started my blog as a way to make sure that I kept reading new and interesting things instead of falling back on old favorites.

  19. I love your list! I had thought of some of these myself (like blogging about books I’ve read) and appreciate the validation. :-). Inserting more reading time instead of TV time is huge!

  20. LetmebeRae says:

    Nice tips! I too have a LONG “To Read” list. Hopefully by incorporating these tips I can get through this list a lot faster!

  21. What a great idea about the bookmark. It never would have occurred to me to face it toward the page I left off on.

  22. esorenneiluj25 says:

    Great post! Helps a lot! 🙂
    Honestly, I have lots of books right now that I haven’t read yet because I’m too lazy to start reading. I think because I’m so preoccupied with my work that after work hours, I just want to sleep. 🙂 But I’ll try your advise. 🙂
    By the way, every day I have been reading my Bible while in the train, you know, instead of just staring to every people in the train, I devote myself on reading the Bible inside the train. Haha. 🙂

    • Commit to reading a chapter a day… plus a chapter of the Bible. You’ll get there. If it’s a good enough book, that’ll get easier and easier. The Man in the Box is a good chapter-a-day kind of book. Short chapters and cliffhangers.

  23. Ann Cuddy says:

    Great ideas here. My parents instilled a love of reading in all of us from a young age. My dad turns 90 in a couple months… he reads at least 1 book a week!

    And I’ll take my reading in book form, nothing electronic for me. I do love the feel of the paper pages. And no, it’s not expensive at all… library cards are free!! Now if I can just get down to reading one book at a time, that would be great.

  24. Ann Cuddy says:

    Reblogged this on Titus 3:3 and commented:
    This is a great post, with great ideas!

  25. esdelaina says:

    Reblogged this on pic&post and commented:
    Even if you think you are busy…

  26. ianchandler says:

    I love the tip about arranging books by season, I’m going to try that. Great post.

  27. Any particular reason for the symbol on the right side of the image in tip #2?

  28. Irene Aprile says:

    Very good post! Since I am a compulsory reader I already do most of these things, but it’s good to know that I am not the only one who always have a book in her handbag. I have the book I’m reading wherever I go because you can’t really know when you’ll have five spare minutes!
    I have something like 60 books on my to-read shelf and 80 new ebooks on my Kindle and this to-read list is never going to end because I keep buying books. But I can’t live without a novel on my side table.
    Beside these excellent advice you give, I also find that challenging myself to read a certain number of books per year helps me find time to read. 2013 challenge is of 80 books and I am at 65!

  29. Pingback: Every Time I See You, You’re Reading Something | Love Thy Introvert

  30. definitely worth trying your tips out! i need to read more & finish the books I have and the books i have yet to buy!

  31. nukapai says:

    Great tips. Especially the one about substituting some TV time for reading. I haven’t tried the seasonal rotation; that’s interesting! My top tips to add to the list: 1. Have e-books as well as real books because when you think you can’t take a book with you on a journey because it’s too heavy, the e-book version will fit in just fine (I even have one heavy tome both as a real book to read at home and as an e-book for my handbag so I can keep reading it wherever I am). 2. Have a library card and don’t be afraid to use it: trying out books without any committment is great. I recently borrowed two books, neither of which turned out to be what I had hoped so I stopped reading after 20 or so pages. If I’d have bought them, I would have felt obliged to finish them. Don’t fall for the sunk costs fallacy with books – abandon books you are not enjoying. I might even do a blog post of my own on the topic. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • I’m forever learning to abandon books. I sometimes think it’s more of a commitment to abandon than to start one. But you’re totally right – a library card makes that decision so much easier! Love my library!

      • nukapai says:

        I think a lot of people have forgotten their libraries and I wish people would re-discover them. Being able to sample books before you buy them is just one great reason 🙂

  32. reticent0ne says:

    Great tips! Always interested in finding ways to read more. I absolutely love reading so any advice on how to squeeze more into my day is awesome. Also, thanks for stopping in to my blog. 🙂

  33. vocaremen says:

    Thanks! I got back into reading about 6-7 years ago and over that time I pretty much adopted most everything you’ve shared. This is an excellent summary of practical tips to increase reading.

  34. frostywindow says:

    Really good tips. You are so right, there is always an extra few minutes to read during the day. I’ve even started reading when I eat my 15-min lunch at work.

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