How to read 52 books a year

January 14, 2020

“You read how many books a year?!” is usually the response when I tell people I read 52 books a year. Some years it’s more, some years it’s less, but I always aim to read a book a week, every year.

Why 52? Well, it’s a nice easy number to keep track of. Have I read a book this week? Yes or no? I don’t have to do any hard maths to figure it out.

Here are some ways that you can reach the epic goal of 52 books in a year!  

Make the choice to read

If you’re saying, but I don’t have time to read, it’s more likely because you don’t make the choice to read.

Do you spend your commutes on public transport scrolling through social media? What about your lunch breaks? When you get home from work, do you spend the whole night engrossed in TV and playing Assassin’s Creed?

I love video games as much as the next girl. But when it comes down to it, I choose to read.

On public transport, I swap the smartphone for a book.

I spill crumbs on my novels during lunch.

Driving? I listen to a long audiobook.  

Even when I’m cleaning the house, I can put headphones on and listen to books.

The trick is to use the down time you already have and prioritise reading over other activities. Put the phone in a place you can’t reach for it, and read, read, read. Or, even better, turn it off.

Read things you like; not what people tell you to read

Sometimes reading can feel like a chore. It’s not you. It’s the book.

You have my sincere permission to put down any books you’re not getting anything out of. Can’t get into it? Don’t read it. It’s the author’s job to entertain, change, inspire, shock, thrill and provoke the reader.

Likewise, if you enjoy paranormal romance novels, read those. People might say “Oh-ho, but you should be reading literary classics!” Don’t let anyone judge your reading habits. It’s not their problem. Reading should be about what you enjoy. You’re bound to read way more books when they’re things you enjoy.

Read short books

Yes, you heard me right. Read novellas. Pulp fiction. Comics. Comedy books.

The book IMHO has become too big. Bring back fabulous short novels around the 60K mark. Tight editing. Fast paced stories.

My list includes heaps of short fiction, alongside epic tomes like War and Peace. Short fiction is no less valid than a book that’s 1,345 pages long. If you like doorstoppers, then more power to you. But it’s satisfying to read books that you can finish in a day or two.

Speed up your audiobooks

A sneaky trick I do to get through audiobooks quicker is speed up the reading pace to 1.25x. It’s not so fast that it becomes noticeable, but it helps me get through more books. But if you don’t like it, don’t speed it up. That simple!

Stagger your books

My other habit is to stagger my reading. I read several books at once, often 1x non-fiction, 1x novel, 1x ebook and 1-2x audiobooks at once. Depending on my mood and where I am, I’ll dive in and out of these books. Which means I read them slower, and I might not finish a book for two weeks, but when I finish books, I’ll finish heaps at once. That also means I always have something to read regardless of my circumstances.

Set aside dedicated time for reading

Finally, set aside dedicated times for reading. I read a devotional book every morning after feeding the cat. In the evening, the TV gets switched off and devices go in another room at 9pm. Any time after that is for winding down and getting a good sleep (trust me, no devices in the bedroom is a GREAT thing to do for your wellbeing). I read until I get tired, which might only be 20 minutes, but it’s still chipping away at the books.

Make reading a book a relaxing ritual. Get a cup of tea and a biscuit (or snack of your choice) and commit to reading for one hour without getting up to check your phone.

Conclusion

Reading books isn’t a pissing competition. If you want to read 52 books a year, aim big. If that goal stresses you out and makes reading not fun, then don’t do it! The whole point of reading is your enjoyment and personal development, not ticking off a number.

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