I distinctly remember a realization in first grade that the “blue group” was code for poor readers. I was in the blue group.
I never got over my shame at being a slow reader.
Still to this day I get self-conscious about reading in front of people–even as a teacher reading to a class, a parent reading to my kids, and a lector reading to my church.
(I was delighted to learn in reading his autobiography this year that Stephen King admitted to being a slow reader, too.)
This year, though, I read more books that I have ever read in my life.
According to Goodreads, I read 8-11 books per year since 2012. This year I finished 37 books.
Here is how I read three times as many books this year:
- Set Goals: I joined the Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge. I figured I could read 24 books this year (two per month). Once I hit my goal, I just kept going.
- Track Progress: The mini-reward of tracking my progress in Goodreads really motivated me to read my books each day. At the end of each day I posted my progress before going to bed.
- 1% Goal: I had a simple goal for myself: read at least 1% per day. The percent rather than pages really helped. I could get over my self-consciousness about being a slower reader and focus on the progress in percentage.
- Two Books at a Time: The Kindle app on my iPhone used to have 5-10 books downloaded at a given time. This gave me the option to read whatever I wanted each day. As a result, I jumped from book to book losing interest in one and moving on to another. I read half of a lot of books in the past.
- One Fiction, One Non-fiction: I always had only one fiction and one non-fiction book to read at a time. I read each kind of book at different times each day. I read fiction at night before falling asleep and on the weekends. I read non-fiction during the day.
- Read eBooks: I only read one book in print this year. The rest I read or listened to on my iPhone. I love the fact that I can pick up the book and read it no matter where I am. Plus, the speed at which I can read a small screen and turn the “page” gives me much more confidence compared to the time it takes me to read one printed page.
- Read Less Articles: The Kindle app was competing with my Instapaper app in the past. With the focus on reading books this year, I spent a lot less time reading articles on Instapaper or Medium on my phone. I had to get that 1% each day and once I started reading I just kept going.
- Listen to Less Podcasts: I’ve listened to thousands of podcast interviews over the years (yes, thousands!) This year I finally started to realized how repetitive the stories and advice had become. Recognizing the patterns was great, but I was burnt out. Listening to audiobooks became much more enjoyable and it helped me work towards my reading goal. I did a lot of speaking this year and the audiobooks were a big help in passing the time in the car and in airports.
- Combine the eBook and Audiobook: I really loved Amazon whispersync. I could read the eBook version of a book then jump in my car and pick up right where I left off in the Audible.com version of the book. This really helped me get through those longer books that I read this year.
- Utilize the Digital Library: My local library offers an Overdrive subscription. This was a huge discovery for me about half way through the year. I downloaded both the eBook and the audiobook versions of the books I wanted to read as much as I could. I requested a few books that were not available and I was so pleased to see the library buy them almost immediately. Thanks library!
- Finish What You Started: I heard Bill Gates say recently that he always finishes a book he starts reading. I started 2017 by finishing books that I had started to read but never finished. I’m so glad I did this! The ends of those books were some of my favorites for the year!
- But Don’t Finish Books You Really Don’t Like: There was at least one book I tried to force myself to read this year because I heard so many people talk about it. Plus it had been turned into a TV show so it had to be good, right? I just couldn’t handle it. I wasn’t excited to read it and the scenes were too graphic for me. So, I stopped reading it. I’m glad I did. There are so many good books to read!
- Re-read Your Favorites: I have a few books that I like to re-read every year or every few years. I learn something new every time! I love the nostalgia of reading good stories again!
- Buy Discounted eBooks: Almost every new book I’ve wanted to read in the last few years dropped in price to $1.99 – $3.99 at some point. I keep a wishlist of eBooks in on Amazon and subscribe to Book Bub and Book Shout for discounts. Plus, Goodreads will usually tell you if you have a book on your shelf that drops in price. I’ve got a long list of books I purchased for a few dollars that I’m excited to read right now waiting to be downloaded from the Kindle cloud.
I almost didn’t write this post because Jon Acuff’s list on how to read 100 books in a year says almost exactly the same advice. I’ve read and watched a lot of posts like this in the last few days and my experience has been very similar.