How to read 50+ books in a year

A few tips, but if you remember nothing else, remember this first one…

Choose books you enjoy reading

Sometimes, you’ll pick up books and think they’d be cool to read, something like The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Really, you just want to be able to say you have read them – you’re not really interested in reading them. There’s a difference.

Only choose books you actually enjoy, not books you just want to say you’ve read.

Skip the boring parts

Lots of readers, I think, fall into the trap of assuming they have to read every word. Why? It’s not like you’ll remember every word. You’ll forget the majority of the specifics within 30 seconds of reading them, and you’ll never remember them again.

I’m not saying to ignore the details. I’m saying to focus on the details you find important, and don’t worry about the rest. If you think about it, it goes right back to making sure you’re only reading books you enjoy.

Ditch books you don’t enjoy

If you find yourself skipping lots of paragraphs or it feels really hard to come back to a book, dump it. Find something else to read. Often, in an attempt to read more, people try to stick with books too long.

I’ll probably get some flack for this because “serious” readers like to think that some books are worth struggling with. I’m not in that school of thought. I say, don’t have patience with books. There’re too many good ones out there to waste time on stuff you don’t enjoy.

The more you read, the more you’ll find you’re able to enjoy some of those tougher reads. But if you try to force yourself to read them, you usually won’t learn to enjoy them… you’ll just end up reading less overall.

Keep multiple books in your queue

In other words, don’t ever run out of things to read, but be careful about starting too many new books. The newness of that next book will help compel you to get through the book you’re currently reading, but not if you’ve already started into it. Use the next start to motivate your current finish.

To keep the books coming, I try to get recommendations from friends or from websites I like. Also, if you find an author you enjoy, see what else that author’s written. Sometimes, you’ll find other great books that way.

For actually getting the books, I like discount, used books stores. They have better deals, which encourages me to keep reading. I also like the library. It’s a great way to get free books, especially the classics. Just be sure to have books set aside in advance so they’re ready for you when you’re ready for them.

Find time to read

For me, this is usually right before bed, like when everyone else would watch a movie or something. But figure out what works for you. Experiment.

Technically, it’s not reading, but you can get a lot in through audio books, like while you’re traveling, exercising, or doing household chores. Listening to books is slower than reading them, but if you’re able to listen when you couldn’t read anyway, it’s a good opportunity.

Start a list

Write down the book title, the author, how many pages the book has in it, maybe the topic or genre, and perhaps a five-star rating system or a few comments you have on the book. I created a spread sheet for all this, which I think is easiest. You could use a pad of paper, though, if you like.

Over the past year, I’ve moved away from keeping such a strict list, but when I first started reading a lot of books, I know this helped. It’s a way to track your progress visually.

Just watch that you don’t start sacrificing enjoyment for progress. Be careful reading or finishing a book just so you can mark it up on your list. In a way, that’s the point behind the list, but it also can go against the #1 rule up top: choose books you enjoy reading.

In the long-run, if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t sustain it. So the main goal with all this is to make sure you’re enjoying what you’re reading and giving yourself as much motivation as possible to keep reading all the time. If you can do that, a book per week is totally within your reach.

And if you already read a lot, what tips do you have to share?