“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
I am an average reader. In fact, with my 5 or 6 books per year, I thought I was well under the national average until I realised that more than 25% of people in the UK don’t read any book.
I went from reading 5/6 books a year to 30/40 and more within a very short time; the tips in this post are here so that I keep track of what I did, and hopefully as a guide and encouragement for anyone looking to read more.
I should also clarify that I don’t speed read, so these suggestions can be implemented by any average reader.
With these last clarifications out of the way, let’s get started:
To know how much reading you can do you need to first know how fast you can read. Google “speed reading test”: any of the results on the first page will do. You’ll be asked to read a text then answer some questions and you’ll get a wpm count (words per minute) and a reading comprehension report.
Suppose you get a words per minute count of 250. Books come in all sizes but let’s assume your average book is 350 pages and the number of words per page is 300 (I have found everything between 200 and 500 but 300 seems to be what most people agree on): 350 pages x 300 words per page = 105,00 words per book on average.
If you spend 30 minutes reading every day, you can read: 250 words per minute x 30 minutes = 7500 words per day, or 7500 words per day / 300 words per page: 25 pages per day. In one year, it’s 9,125 pages!
Finally, 9,125 pages a year / 350 pages per book = 26 books per year, just reading 30’ per day every day!
I questioned for a long time whether audiobooks counted as reading and I resolved that as long as I can understand the content of a book and follow the reader, it doesn’t matter who the reader is. Not to mention, books read by their author can be much more enjoyable than books read by me.
The tricky part is to find books that work as audiobooks: for me all the books that don’t require me to go back and forth and are not very technical work, but it’s up to you to find out what works and what doesn’t. My suggestion is to start with fiction and then expand your horizon.
Tip 1: Listen to a sample of the book (available on Audible) before committing to buying one. Make sure that the reader’s voice and way of reading is something you like enough to listen to it for a few hours.
Tip 2: Experiment with the playback speed: I discovered that by increasing the speed to 1.1x/1.2x I can enjoy the book as well as at normal speed, but cutting those pauses saves me hours.
There’s a lot of dead time during our day: breakfast, lunch, dinner, commute, airport gates, driving, cycling, and walking to the grocery store. Armed with physical, electronic and audiobooks, it’s easy to use those dead times to read more. A lot more.
Fire up an audiobook at breakfast: 30’ of reading done. Do the same at lunch (while preparing and eating): easily another 60’ done. Do it again at dinner (same story): another 60’. Without leaving the house, there’s 2h30’ worth of reading right there.
You can mix and match, so listen to an audiobook while you’re preparing lunch and dinner, then read your e-book while eating maybe.
Just doing this can drastically increase the number of books you read. This is easily the simplest yet more powerful advice in this post.
Ebooks are practical, but nothing beats a paper book: the smell of the paper, the feeling of holding in your hand a physical object that you can put on a shelf and show to your friends and family.
If you read mainly ebooks, starting to add physical books to the mix will, most likely, motivate you to read more and put the fun back into reading.
Yes. Two or three, or more.
Here’s an example: an audiobook for all those times when you cannot hold a book, an e-book for your commuting, a physical book at home, on your favourite armchair. I find it helpful to change the genre as well. Every part of your day will then have a book and you’ll look forward to continuing from where you left off.
The world is full of books, there is no reason to spend time on bad books. If you don’t like a book, give it to someone whom you know might enjoy it.
30’ in the morning as you wake up? Or 45’ before going to bed. Make that be the time when you sit (or lie) down and read. Forming a habit of reading will make the difference between success and failure.
Give yourself a goal that you never reached before but also that isn’t miles away from what you have already achieved. Beat it, then make a bolder bet. I use Goodreads to set a challenge at the start of the year.
I hope these tips will work for you as well as they did for me.
Here is a Youtube video that gave me lots of ideas on how to improve my reading: