If you would’ve told me 3 or 4 years ago, that I would’ve been reading at the pace of one book every week, I would’ve laughed at you! But, we’re 8ish weeks into 2016, and I’m about to finish up my 7th book (and will finish #8 later this week) for this year. I’m not an incredibly fast reader (maybe a little above average), and I don’t read short books (the two most recent books were 300 and 550 pages respectively, though I’ve read a couple short ones also), so…what has happened to cause me to be reading at this pace? Well, I’m sure there are a number of factors that I haven’t thought of, but I’ve boiled down the reasons I’ve thought of to 3.
I used to say that I didn’t like reading, but that I loved what happened when I read – namely that I learned, grew, was stretched or awed, and generally enjoyed the material. I just didn’t like the work! Now though, I’ve come to realize that the joy of reading is found in the end result, and so it’s made me enjoy the journey more as well. So, the three things that have helped me read more are:
I made a commitment to read more
This might seem like a “no-duh”, but it really isn’t. We all want to read more, but we don’t make time for it. I do many different things with my free time, whether it’s watching a TV show, or playing a video game, or playing board games, or waste way too many minutes on Facebook etc… What I’ve found though, is that when I make a conscious effort to do those things less, and read instead, that I enjoy it more! That’s been one of the defining things for me. I simply am spending less time doing other things, in favor or reading more. It’s taken discipline, but already after only two months, I’m finding that I’m less drawn to some of those other things, and more easily think “I’ll pick up a book and read for a few minutes.” And that brings me to my second point!
I stopped thinking the conditions for reading had to be perfect
I don’t know if you’re like me in this, but when I read, what I absolutely love is to be able to sit in my chair, with a pen in one hand, a good drink in the other, and have my headphones in playing quiet music to drown out the rest of the world. Well, when you have 5 kids in a 900 sq foot house, that’s almost impossible! If I were to wait until conditions were perfect for reading, I’d almost never read! Instead, what I’ve found is that even if my reading isn’t as productive during more distracting times, I’d still rather read than not. I’d rather read 3 pages, than no pages at all. And so even if I have to read slower, or re-read certain portions of my book over again because of the distractions, it’s still making progress, and every page counts! And again, this has been incredibly freeing! When I realized that I could sit down for a couple minutes and read another 2 or 3 pages, I started making my way through books more quickly, simply because I was spending even more time in them.
Lastly, I stopped thinking I had to read every word
I used to be the type of person who felt that I couldn’t say I’d read a book if I hadn’t read every single word, and all the footnotes and appendices! What I’ve come to realize though is that most books are not written specifically with me in mind (whod’ve thunk it!). Instead, the truth is that most books are written with a wide audience range in mind, and so many times an author will make the same point in multiple ways from multiple angles, in order to make sure they thoroughly explain it to their various readers (this is less true of fiction, but still applies many times). This only makes sense, of course, but I shouldn’t feel obligated to read the same point being made 3 different ways, if I’ve understood their point after the first reading. This realization has freed me up to skim and peruse and even altogether skip certain paragraphs or portions of books (I don’t typically altogether skip portions unless it’s a topic I’m already very familiar with). Needless to say then, this has sped up the time it takes me to get through a book.
A note of caution here though: it can mess you up if you practice this too frequently, because you may miss something that’s integral to something later on in the book, and searching back through a book can be very frustrating!
Well, as I said, these are 3 things that have helped ME read more. I can’t say that they would undoubtedly help you, but I hope that maybe my personal struggles and subsequent conquering will prove insightful to you. Let me know if they do!