How To Read More Often: 11 Reliable Tactics That Work

Would you like to read more often?

It’s becoming harder to find time to get through the hundreds of good books published every year, let alone the classics.

Thanks to smartphones, social media, and streaming sites like Netflix readers have more distractions than ever. 

Reading is more rewarding and enjoyable than scrolling down on Twitter and Facebook.

In this post, I’ll explain how to read more often.

The Benefits of Reading More Often

Successful people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet spend an hour or two reading every day. Warren Buffett told a body of students about to graduate,

“Read 500 pages…every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

Reading will help you become more creative too. Every time you open a book, you make an unconscious deposit in your memory bank of ideas. The Bulgarian writer and critic Maria Popova describes this process as “combinatorial creativity.”

She writes:

“…in order for us to truly create and contribute to the world, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these pieces and build new castles.”

Reading more often can also change your life in unexpected ways. Benjamin Franklin set aside several hours every morning and evening for reading and self-examination.

Each morning he asked himself:

“What good shall I do today?”

Franklin’s life demonstrates how we can manage our downtime and incorporate important reading and self-examination activities into our busy days.

For example, lots of people read at the end of the day. This, perhaps, is one reason why Benjamin Franklin made time for reading in the morning and afternoon.

Benjamin Franklin’s daily routine
Benjamin Franklin’s daily routine

1. Identify Your Ideal Reading Time

Carve out small parts of the day when you have the energy or time to free to read, such as first thing in the morning. You may find different genres more engaging at different times of the day.

Perhaps you more likely to enjoy fiction in the evening before bed and non-fiction in the morning before work?

2. Read 15-20 Pages Every Day

Committing to reading at least 15 to 20 pages every day is another great way of setting yourself up for success. You can probably get through that many pages in under 30-minutes.

This is an ideal amount of time to spend reading first in the morning, at lunch, or before bed.  If you read 15-20 pages a day for a week, you’ll get through 105-140 pages, which is about a third of a typical book non-fiction book. 

3. Keep a Reading List

I love reading, but like many people, I browse the internet when I should be reading, or I end up reading the wrong book altogether.

When I read about a book that sounds interesting, this leads to an “I’d love to read that book, but I have to read this book first” moment. Then, I invariably forget the name of the interesting book.

Keeping a reading list helped me overcome procrastination.

When you’re stuck for something to read, consult your list before you buy it. This method shortcuts wandering around a virtual or bricks and mortar bookshop and buying a book because the cover, reviews, or discounts are impressive.

I also like updating this list when I’ve read a good book and sometimes write down some notes about why I liked it.

4. Read More Than One Book At Once

Keep two or three books on the go. This practice enables you to switch from one book to the next without getting bored. Reading multiple books means the first book mixes ideas in weird ways with the second book’s ideas.

The trick is not to read so many books that you find it difficult to get through them. However, if you read more than one book, you’ll always have something to feel excited about picking up.

I’ve found reading three books at once feels about right; any more becomes overwhelming.

I find non-fiction books best suited for daytime reading, while fiction books make for ideal night-time reading.

I’ve also found reading three books at once feels about right; any more becomes overwhelming.

5. Consume Other Reading Material

Reading more often doesn’t necessarily mean reading just good books. I like Pocket and Instapaper because I can bookmark and save interesting articles and essays worth reading on my phone.

I’m less likely to engage with these articles while sitting in front of a computer, but they’re more fun than scrolling on a news site. If you’d like to learn more, check out my interview with Nate Weiner of Pocket. 

6. Set a Reading Goal for the Year

Consider setting a goal for how many books you want to read in a given month or year.  You could break up the goal between fiction and non-fiction. Say something like:

This year, I want to read 25 fiction books and 25 non-fiction books. 

Ideally, you’ll review progress towards this goal at least once a month.

7. Track Your Reading Habits

Reading regularly, like working out or meditating, is a habit. If you’re not reading as much as you’d like, you must exercise self-discipline to incorporate daily reading into part of your daily routine.

Commit your habit by saying something like: Every day at X am/pm, I will read for Y minutes in Z (location).

Then, for a month, keep tracking of how many days you stick to this habit.  If you need help, try using the Pomodoro technique

8. Start a Book Club

A book club essentially involves a group of people getting together in person or virtually to talk about a book they all read.

One good thing about a book club is that members commit to reading. Otherwise, they’ll have to turn up and explain why they didn’t finish the book.

You could start a book club and chat with friends over WhatsApp or Zoom once a month about a particular book and discuss what it meant to you.

9. Carry a Book With You at All Times

We all have pockets of free time that go to waste, waiting for a train, sitting in a waiting room for an appointment, collecting a son or daughter from training, or school. Keep a book, Amazon Kindle, or e-reader in the car or your bag.

When you have a few minutes to spare, rather than spending time on social media, start reading.

10. Stop Reading Bad Books After 50 Pages

Oprah Winfrey famously advises that you stop reading it after 50 pages if you don’t like a book.

Her thinking is there are so many good books available – and more than anyone can read in one lifetime – so there’s no point wasting time on a book because you feel like you should finish reading it.

You can take Oprah’s advice one step further by reading samples of books that Amazon and other stores make freely available before buying the book.

Some heavy readers advise concentrating on one book at a time because this increases your chances of finishing one book and moving on to the next.

I can’t entirely agree.

Reading several books at once means you can alternate books when one becomes tiresome or a slog. Then, you can return to the first book when you feel refreshed.

For this method to work, it’s worth reading books from several different genres or combining fiction and non-fiction.

11. Listen to Audiobooks

If you drive to work, enjoy long walks or spend time at the gym, you can read more by listening to audiobooks. Services like Amazon Audible contain numerous bestsellers, often narrated by the author. 

Audiobooks are enjoyable because you can adjust the playback speed.  If your eyes get tired of reading print or ebooks, audiobooks are a nice alternative. They’re also ideal for the visually impaired.

Thanks to technology like Amazon Whispersync, you can listen to an audiobook during the day and pick up from where you left off that night on Kindle.

If you’d like to learn more about listening to audiobooks, check out my Audible review.

How To Read  More often: The Final Word

Sometimes, I read several books at once over the course of a week or two. On other occasions, I go a while without reading any long-form works.

This drought isn’t because I don’t want to read; the challenges of day-to-day life get in the way.

I used to feel guilty about these breaks, but now I accept them because I know I will return to a bookstore with my list of great books to read. Carve out reading time in your day, making the most of your free time, and track what you want to read.

Reading, like any activity, has its peaks and troughs. Rather than beating yourself up about not reading, accept there will be times when you don’t have a lot of free time.

Want more? Check out my guide How To Become a Better Reader

How To Read More Often FAQs

How do you read more consistently?

Instead of trying to read for hours each day, try reading for 30 minutes early in the morning or late at night before bed. Alternatively, aim for a target page count each day that you can achieve. If you still need help, consider joining a book club and relying on the accountability of peers.

How do you find time to read?

Early in the morning is best because you’re probably fresh and less likely to be distracted by work and other commitments. Also consider if you can reduce the amount of time spent on social media, the news or watching TV.

Reading Resources

I’ve started to compile a list of resources packed with great books to read. Check back often!

Best leadership books

Best writing books

Best grammar books

Best audiobooks