If there’s one thing book lovers want, it’s to read more books. And possibly to buy more books, and have more space for books, but ultimately that allows us to read more. It isn’t all about the numbers — which it can seem like sometimes on social media — but when there are tens, hundreds, thousands of books being published, circulating bookstagram and being talked about on booktube, it is difficult not to want to get carried away with adding books to a seemingly endless ‘to be read’ pile.
TBR piles are never-ending, constantly being updated as news books come out and are recommended to you, and reading them all seems completely impossible. There is no way to read all the books you want to read this year, and what about all the ones you didn’t read the year before, or the year before that? And what about the months where you’ve only just finished your second book and it is the 23rd of the month — now you feel like a fake book lover. What are you supposed to do?
1. Admit Defeat
I know this doesn’t sound very encouraging, but it is necessary. You won’t get to every book you want to read. There are only 365 days, or 8760 hours, in a year, and approximately 300,000 books published in the UK alone in that time. Even if you read a book a day, or a book an hour every hour, you could only read a tiny fraction of the books published, ignoring books published in every other country and all previous years.
This is too high a number to be threatening. You can’t read every book. Someone is always going to have read more than you, there are always going to be more books than you can ever hope to read, and more books will keep getting published year on year. If you start worrying about this, you’re heading straight for a reading slump — reading will become a chore, something you have to do, something you have to rush.
And what’s the point in that? Reading is, first and foremost, something you do because you love it. It is not done so you can read all the books or announce to Twitter that you read more books than everyone else this month. Admit defeat and focus on enjoying the process of reading and your love for the books you do manage to read.
2. Possibilities Over TBRs
I saw the term “possibility pile” floating around on bookstagram and I love it far more than monthly TBRs. A TBR pile is a to-do list; it is rigid, fixed, unchangeable. Of course, it’s not actually any of these things but it can feel that way sometimes. A possibility pile feels much more relaxed, an opportunity to select books you hope to read soon without the added pressure of feeling like you need to read them all. It eliminates another way of inadvertently making reading a chore, but still allows you to pick books you are really excited to read over the next few weeks.
I enjoy thinking about what I’m going to read next. Of course, I (usually) enjoy my current read, but I am more motivated if I am also excited to start another. I spend a lot of time thinking about my next possible book and that excitement can really drop if I have created a strict TBR where none of the books I really want to read are on it. I like being able to throw my TBR out of the window and just pick up whatever I feel like.
3. Enjoy a Variety
This depends on your personal reading preferences, but a variety of different genres and mediums can help you get through more books. If you listen to audiobooks or read graphic novels/comics/manga as well as physical novels, incorporate a mix into your reading routine.
It is the same with genre. If you have a list of ten 500 page classics, you probably won’t get through those that quickly, and it won’t motivate you to read (unless you absolutely love long classics, in which case carry on!). I like most genres — which the exception of horror — and so I try and make sure I read a mixture over a month so I don’t find books repetitive.
If you can have an audiobook, a physical book and a poetry collection on the go at the same time or in succession, you are far more likely to finish more books that just trudging through a very similar reading list.
Alternating between short and long reads is another way to add variety. I can feel unmotivated if I am faced with a stack of 400+ books, but if I interchange them with a novella or a shorter novel, it definitely helps. I also like to pair a heavy or dark novel with a lighter, cheesier book and I can choose either depending on how I’m feeling.
4. Establish a Reading Routine
There might be certain times of the day when you particularly like to read — or have more time to — or days that are busier than others. Having set times, days or page goals can help make reading a habit.
I like to read in a morning, often during breakfast, because I am always awake before my housemates. I also like to read just before I go to bed. How long I read for tends to vary depending on how much work I have to do or if I have plans, but knowing I read first and last thing means I instinctively reach for my book before going downstairs or as I climb into bed — instead of going on my phone or opening Netflix.
If you think about your week, you will likely know the best time for you to fit in some reading. If you have to properly schedule it into your diary, do it. Even if it’s just 5 pages in a morning instead of going on Instagram, or bringing your Kindle on your 20-minute commute, it’s still reading.
5. Read What you Want to Read
This sounds like an especially obvious and useless reading tip to end with. Surely it would be pretty silly to read books you don’t want to? And yet, you’d be surprised how tempting it is, especially if you spend a lot of time in the book community. It is easy to be swept up in the hype of a book and buy it because everyone else loves it, or the cover is gorgeous, or it’s a bookstagram classic that you simply can’t be a true reader if you haven’t read. You might have even read the synopsis — or you might have, and you might think it’s not your thing, but you are going to read it anyway.
Don’t. It’s so tempting and so easy, but it the surest way to a reading slump. You’re far more likely to read more books if you are actually excited to read them.
This is the same when choosing to receive an ARC. It’s an amazing privilege to be able to read books before their publication date and it is thrilling when a publishing house or author contacts you to review their book. It can be hard to say no, but it is in both of your best interests to decline if it isn’t something you’re really likely to enjoy.
So, these are my 5 main tips for reading more books. I am by no means someone that reads hundreds of books in a year — and if you’re aiming to do that you probably need someone else’s blog post! But, I have really increased the number of books I get through on a monthly basis, and these things have definitely helped.
And the most important tip: whether you read 1 book a month or 30, if you love reading, you are a book lover.
What would be your tip for reading more books? Do you have a similar blog post? I’d love to check it out.