Want to read more books? Here’s how to start turning those pages. - America's Future Foundation

November 5, 2019

Culture

Want to read more books? Here’s how to start turning those pages.

By: Romina Boccia

Growing up, I was a voracious reader. On a rainy weekend, you might find me devouring books in my room for most of the day.

Then schoolwork picked up and I got a job. Reading, once a favorite pastime which had transported me to faraway lands and into the minds of brave heroes and troubled protagonists, completely fell off my radar — for years.

I came up with numerous excuses for why I wasn’t reading anymore, from not having enough time, to being exhausted from reading for work, to not knowing of any good books that would capture my attention. Sound familiar?

And yet, when I picked up one of those rare books, I was always glad that I did. Reading opened my mind in a different way, helped me to become more empathetic, and taught me new strategies for coping with certain challenges. I wanted more of that experience in my life.

This year, I made it happen. I went from struggling to read more than one or two books each year to consuming 30 books in only 10 months! Here’s how I revived my love of books and got back to turning those pages:

Set an actionable, realistic, and measurable goal.
If you want to change something in your life, make it a concrete goal that is actionable, realistic, and measurable. Turn your desire to want to read more into an actionable goal by establishing a certain number of books you commit to reading over a certain period of time. I chose 25 books in one year because it seemed like a nice number and it gave me a realistic and measurable goal to track my progress. I would need to read a minimum of two books each month to stay on track. To get a head start I picked three books for my first month.

Develop an abundant and renewable reading list.
I realized that one of the impediments to reading more was that I had not picked what I would read. Once I finished a book, I had no other book lined up and instead wandered aimlessly until a book would land in my lap. That was no way to reach my goal, so I built a list of books I planned to read and saved it as a note on my phone. Once I was on the lookout for reading recommendations, I found them everywhere, from friends’ social media posts, to top bestseller lists, to recommendations by highly successful people, including Bill Gates, Tim Ferris, and Charles Koch. I now have an abundant and growing reading list. Every time someone mentions a good book, I put it on my list.

Establish and engage in regular review.
It’s easy to set a goal, it’s harder to stick to it. To help me stay on track, I committed to doing a monthly review of the books I had read. To up the pressure, I decided to share my progress on Facebook each month. It worked! As an added benefit, several people in my social circle benefited from my book recommendations, and many reached out to recommend books to add to my list. I exceeded my initial reading goal before year’s end and promptly revised it upwards.

Consume books in the forms that work for you.
I consume books in three forms: in print, on my iPad, and via audio. On the weekends, I like to settle in with a print book as I enjoy my coffee and rest for the week ahead. When I travel, I prefer to pack lightly, and reading on my iPad is the best option to give me access to books on the go. I also spend about an hour each day commuting. Instead of listening to music, I switched to mostly listening to audiobooks. Some might say that consuming books via audio is cheating, because you aren’t actually reading. I say that is putting form before function. Consume books the way that works best for you and ignore the critics.

Make your books a part of you.
Reading has once again become a part of who I am. I use books to learn new things, to pick up new tools, to grow personally and professionally, and occasionally for pure entertainment. Making my books a part of me means that instead of making excuses for why I don’t read, I find reasons and moments to read and I engage with others through books by asking them what they’re reading and sharing the things that I have learned from the books in my life.

If you too see the value in books and want to turn more pages, I hope you find these strategies helpful to realize your goal. Happy reading!