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Here’s How I Manage To Read 60+ Books A Year

And actually enjoy the shit out of it.

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I’ve always been a person who reads a pretty high volume of books in a year. In order to obtain some goddamn peace and quiet during “free play” in my first grade classroom, I would lock myself in the single occupancy bathroom and read on the floor. I did this with enough frequency that I suspect my concerned teachers thought I had some gastrointestinal challenges and may have checked in with my parents. My grandmother — who had been a shy and introverted reader as a youth, and may have been afraid she’d pass on these tendencies — would often give me a verbal slap on the wrist when she caught me trying to read at the dinner table or sneak in a few pages when I should have been engaging with the adults or honing my witty verbal quips.

I had less time for casual reading in high school and college, but as an adult I’ve been able to get back to my old habits, for better or worse. Now I get through about 60-65 books and 47 issues of the New Yorker a year.

If you're trying to read more, here are some of my tips:

1. Set measurable goals.

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Deciding you want to read more books in 2018 is a great start, but I think it’s worthwhile to take it a step further and set a goal that’s actually quantifiable and also realistic. So your next question might be: how many books can I reasonably expect to get through in a year? Think about how long it actually takes you to finish a book. (It might also help to look at how many books you read last year.) If you know you’re a slow reader or don’t have much spare time, don’t torture yourself trying to read 100 books a year. It’ll just frustrate you and make reading feel like a chore. Instead of choosing an arbitrary number, choose a goal that seems right for you.

I try to read about 40 pages a day. Some days I read way more, sometimes much less, but this is a good middle ground number. If you were to read 40 pages a day every day for a year, that’d be 14,600 pages. If you assume most books are around 300 pages, you’ve got 48 books a year right there.

2. Always have a book with you, and read it whenever there's a spare moment.

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If you always have something to read on hand, you can fit in a few more pages during extra bits of time throughout your day. For me, that’s my commute (waiting for/riding the subway, walking to/from the subway and my office), my lunch break, waiting in lines, waiting for chronically late friends to arrive at restaurants, and before bed. For those who drive to work, you could listen to audiobooks.

I must acknowledge that this strategy might mean forsaking some water cooler banter. For example, some of my coworkers eat lunch together most days and I usually eat at my desk while reading. For people who recharge and feel invigorated by social interaction or who need to network at lunch, this may not be wise. My job involves so much interaction with other people that I prefer to disengage at lunch and retreat to my happy place.

3. Accept that you’ll have less time for other hobbies.

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In order to become a more voracious reader, you have to prioritize reading over other forms of entertainment. Our attention remains zero sum (despite our insistence that we can multitask), our free time is limited, and our lives are short. So if you really want to read more, you kind of have to decide that TV, movies, music, and podcasts are less important.

I love The Crown and RuPaul’s Drag Race just as much as anyone else, but when I find myself turning on the TV to watch yet another rerun of Seinfeld, sometimes I have to pause and ask myself if that’s really how I want to spend that half hour of my life. Maybe it’s been a rough day and I just want to zone out and watch something easy, and that’s okay. But there’s also often a benefit to pushing myself a little harder and trying to spend that time focusing on something more challenging.

4. Use the library.

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The library is the most amazing place ever. It’s like shopping for books on Amazon except… it’s free. I could go on about the joys of the New York Public Library for hours. Fun fact: the two lions in front of the main library branch are called Patience and Fortitude. Another fun fact: you will never feel like more of a baller than when you stroll into the newly refurbished Rose Reading Room at that branch and sit down at one of the tables to read for a while. Yes, it is open to the public and yes, you will feel more studious and learned than ever before in your lifetime.

Having due dates and deadlines for picking up holds can really light a fire under me to finish books. I am pretty neurotic about turning in books on time and pride myself on never incurring overdue fines — unlike one of my good friends who always keeps her balance *just* below the threshold that allows her to keep borrowing.

5. Cultivate friendships with other readers.

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I love getting book recommendations from friends because often they suggest something I never would have come across otherwise. If you have a few go-to friends with whom you can discuss recent favorites or rip apart the recent best seller that you hated, it can make the whole enterprise a lot less solitary. (You could also join BuzzFeed’s Page Turners to meet some like-minded readers!)

6. Make it competitive.

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Of course we all read at our own pace and we all have times in our lives when reading takes a back seat. I have found, though, that setting goals, making them public, and talking with friends about what I’m reading can set off those competitive alarm bells that can sometimes push me just a bit harder. I find Goodreads super helpful for these last two points. I use Goodreads to set reading goals for the year, keep track of the books I want to read next, organize what I’ve requested from the library, keep an eye on upcoming releases, and see what my friends are reading. And yes, my inner control freak is completely indulged by that website. (My friends always joke that I should be sponsored by Goodreads or the NYPL but so far no offers have been forthcoming.)

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