Some of the questions I’m asked most frequently are ‘how do you read so much?’ and ‘how do I go about reading more?’ so I’m here to answer both questions and hopefully give you some ideas as to how you might go about increasing the amount you read.
Of course, everyone reads at their own pace and we all have different demands on our time but hopefully the suggestions below will help you increase the amount you read in ways that can work alongside those demands, whatever they may be.
Take a book with you everywhere
This is always my first suggestion because I think it’s one of the most effective. I get so much of my reading done on the commute to and from work or waiting for appointments and I like to be prepared for unexpected moments of spare time by always having a book close to hand. Of course, it may not always be practical to carry a book around so…
Consider your format
Physical book, e-book, audiobook, they all count as reading and don’t let anyone suggest otherwise. If you spend a lot of time driving or doing the school-run, you might find audiobooks suit you perfectly. If you’re frequently travelling or you don’t like the idea of carrying physical books, maybe an e-reader would work best. I know a lot of people who find they absorb non-fiction better via audio, like listening to a podcast and others love the idea of fiction on audio because it’s like being told a story. You don’t have to to stick to one and switching it up might allow more opportunity to increase the amount you’re reading during the course of the day. Now, when it comes to deciding what book want to read/ listen to, it’s important to…
Read what you genuinely want to read
What I mean by this is read what genuinely interests you. Don’t read a book just because everyone else is reading it or because it’ll make you look more intelligent (hello, unread copy of War and Peace) or because you’ve been convinced by the hype that it must be good even when your gut tells you otherwise. I have a number of books on my shelf that I should never have bought and, ultimately, reading is a waste of time if you’re bored out of your mind. Which brings me rather nicely to…
Don’t force it
I know there are those who balk at the idea of leaving a book unfinished but I’m not one of them. I fully believe that forcing yourself to finish a book you aren’t enjoying, or even appreciating, will only ruin the experience of reading altogether. There is nothing wrong with putting a book to one side and returning to it another time, or choosing not to return to it at all. Sometimes the mood just isn’t right and how much you’re reading is affected by this may depend on whether you’re better suited to…
Mood reading vs. a reading schedule
Some people read more if they set themselves a list of books they want to read each week/month/year, whilst others, like me, prefer to have a selection of books to choose from depending on their mood (yes, this is how I justify the endless book purchases and I make no apologies).
Sometimes only a light hearted romance will do, at other times I need literary prowess and raw emotion so I have a selection of literary fiction books to choose from and, at other times, I want to explore a particular area of interest so I have a selection of non-fiction books at hand.
If you aren’t sure which will work for you, experiment a little. One month set a list of books you want to read and try to stick to it. Another month just wing it and see it what happens.
Of course, when you’re selecting those books you might want to…
Understand your intentions
Be clear why you’re reading a particular book. For those of you who are studying for example, try to draw clear boundaries between those books you are required to read and those books you’re reading for pleasure.
I read so much less during the years I was at university because I didn’t do this. I would either convince myself that any time I spent reading for pleasure was time that could be spent studying or I just didn’t allow myself time to read as a means of de-stressing, which brings me very nicely to my next suggestion…
Gift yourself the time to read
As much as I appreciate those unexpected moments of reading time, I also love allowing myself uninterrupted time to read. Additionally, I think it’s so important to create an environment that facilitates this. This might be an evening in with a blanket, hot water bottle and a cup of tea. It might be a summers day where you head outdoors with a book and simultaneously soak up some sun, or you might just head to a coffee shop and sit with a book for a while.
Wherever it is that you feel most relaxed, allow yourself time in that space and bring your book with you!
Now, in an age of endless demands on our attention this may be easier said than done so you’re going to need to…
I’m going to focus on the main culprits here: TV (read: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Youtube and all other streaming services) and, of course, the phone. I can’t tell you how often I interrupt my own reading by checking my phone or getting caught up in the latest viral furore so whenever I find myself doing that I’ll set a timer, put my phone out of reach and not allow myself to pick it up until the allotted amount of time has passed.
Same goes for TV – try reading in the time you would have spent watching the next episode of whatever series you’re in the process of binge watching. Sometimes simple self-control works just fine, but if I just can’t help myself this strategy usually does the trick. However, ultimately we can only resist social media for so long so, if you’re going to spend all that time on the internet…
Follow people who inspire/encourage you to read
There is so much book-related content on social media: Bookstagram and Book Twitter are thriving book communities and even if you aren’t that much of a bookworm, following these accounts provides so much inspiration. I have discovered so many authors, books and publishers that I wouldn’t have otherwise come across and they’re also a great way to keep up with new releases. There are also so many online book clubs that can help guide your reading or just provide some encouragement. If you aren’t sure where to begin, start with searching specific tags such as ‘#bookstagram’ or ‘#bookcommunity’ or the name of the book or author you’re interested in. If you’re after a particular type of book try searching that too, for example there are thousands of posts under the tag ‘#muslimauthors’ or ‘historicalfiction’.
So, there you have it. I’m sure there are so many other tips and tricks but hopefully these suggestions will provide a good starting point.
*Editor’s note: Tasnim is a bookstagrammer and too modest to include her Instagram handle, so we’re doing it for her. Follow her @reads.and.reveries