My Storygraph account informed me recently that I’d hit 100 books. And because I’m a skeptical person (and overly committed to book data), I checked my GoodReads account to confirm that “yes” I had in fact passed 100 books.
When you read a lot, as I apparently do, people have a few assumptions: you must not have much screen time, you must read super fast, and you can’t possibly retain everything you read.
First, I watch a crap ton of TV, YouTube, and movies. I’ve been known to get sucked down a Marvel Tik Tok hole. I veg out after work on the couch watching YouTube videos, and have to be up to date on all things Housewives. So don’t think I’m an intellectual who abhors screen time.
Second, I’m not the fastest reader. Growing up dyslexic, I used to sob when I got more than 10 pages of reading assigned for homework, and don’t get me started on grad school…I learned to talk my way out of a paper bag when it came to case studies, cause I couldn’t do 20 pages of technical reading per night over 4 classes, so I had to learn to skim, listen, and put some razzle dazzle to it. I will admit that I’ve learned some reading technics, that have made me a more efficient reader, and I’ve worked hard to improve my words per minute. Maybe eventually I’ll share what I’ve learned about visual pacers, reducing subvocalization, and knowing when to speed read and when to slow down.
Lastly, you’d be surprised how much you retain between commonplace books, discussing books with other people, and writing reviews…but that’s a post for another day.
So now that we’ve myth busted, here are a few of the things that helped me hit this reading milestone:
Set a measurable reading goal – whether it’s a sentence a day, a book a week, 20 minutes every day (my personal goal), set some sort of goal. Because “reading more” doesn’t cut it, it’s nebulous and it gives you no idea of whether you are hitting your goal. If you read 1 book a year, set the goal of 2. If you haven’t read a single book in ages, just shoot for one sentence a day. I won’t drone on about it here, but James Clear lays out in Atomic Habits why small measurable habits are more impactful of getting you to a larger goal.
Always have a book with you – I always make sure to have a book on my kindle to read in line at Disneyland, or I turn on an Audible book when I wake up (rather than open tik tok or IG), or I keep a physical book in my purse. This lowers the friction between reading, and not reading. It makes it so damn convenient that it’s harder for me not to do it than it is to just fire up a little reading session.
Set time aside to read – My morning reading time is important to me, it’s when I’m most focused, energized and motivated to read. Read when it makes sense for you, and when you’ll have the energy to actually want to.
Stop reading books you don’t like, embrace the DNF – This was a hard one for me, but I’ve learned to embrace quitting books. I was recently slogging through a much hyped thriller, and I wasn’t into it. So my rule is 100 – (your age) = when you can quit a book if it isn’t working. Forcing myself to read a book that isn’t working has lead to many a reading slump in the past, I will drop a shit book like a bad habit, and I recommend you do too if you have any sort of reading goal. I truly don’t care if it’s the hottest pop lit of the season on everyone’s list, if I don’t like it, I’M OUT!
Read what you like – I haven’t read most of the classics, and I don’t care. I don’t feel an obligation to only read new releases, to only read non-fiction, or whatever else is popping on BookTube. In 2020 I read basically rom coms. I’d come back from protests, or turn off the news, and sink into comfort reads, getting lost in happily ever afters. For some reason this year I was really into horror books, thrillers, and stoic classics. Now if you only want to read Manga and nonfiction, that’s dope and you should! Stop reading things other people like that you know you hate. You will never catch me reading a Bronte family book, because Jane Eyre is AWFUL!!!
Those are my Top 5 tips for how to read a little more, but I’m sure it won’t be the last bookish post.
Looking forward to breaking down in future posts, some speed reading techniques, how I keep a commonplace book/Notion page on what I’ve read, and the monthly stacks. And for the sake of accountability, in 2022 I want to replace at least 30% of my screen time, especially on social, with reading.