*This is an updated and expanded version of a post from a couple of years ago. Pics are from my church office.
I read 100 books in 2017 and I’m on pace to best that total in 2018. I often get the question, “How do you find the time to read so much?” Many people glance at my book logs and ask, “How?” Below you will find my suggestions on how to read more books and a peak at my reading schedule.
First, a little statistical info. Just for the fun of it.
The average length of a book is about 64,000 words. The classic Animal Farm is really short, merely 29,966 words. On the other hand, War and Peace is massive, coming in at 544,406 words. You can see more word count totals here.
The average adult reads at a pace of 300 words per minute (some say 200 or 250). That means the average reader could read the average book in 3.5 hours, Animal Farm in 1.6 hours, and War and Peace in little over 30 hours.
Looking at these numbers: Reading one book a week should not be an issue. You simply need to find 3.5 hours for reading in your week.
Be Selective in the Books You Read. Nothing slows down reading like a bad book. Thus, you must be selective. I only pick up books that I’m sure I will enjoy or books that I know contain information that will be helpful and useful. I know the topics I will enjoy. I know the authors I will enjoy. I read reviews upon reviews upon reviews. Each week I listen to the New York Times Book Review podcast and number of other book podcasts. I actively seek out book recommendations. It is extremely rare that I ever pick up a book simply because “It looks interesting.”
Build a large “To Be Read” stack. Deciding which book to read next causes a major bottleneck in your reading totals. You can destroy this bottleneck by building a TBR (To Be Read) pile. In my office I have a large number of stacks that function as my TBR pile. When I finish a book, I merely pull a book from the top. Remember from my first suggestion: These stacks have been selectively curated. I don’t have to “think” but merely grab the next book.
Read A Handful of Books Simultaneously. I have 3 to 5 books going at one time. If I’m really enjoying a book – it gets finished quickly. If I’m not enjoying a book – it gets finished slowly (rarely not at all). Sometimes you’re in a mood for something serious. At other times you’re in a mood for something lighter. Reading a handful of books at one time keeps you from getting bogged down.
Take Books With You Everywhere. This is an ongoing joke in my household. I take books with me every time I get in the car. I mean every. single. time. You’ll be surprised how often you find yourself waiting … a great time for reading a few pages. When I meet people for lunch I’m often waiting for them to arrive. A great time to steal 10 minutes of reading. Remember, for a book a week you only need 3.5 hours a week. You can easily gain an hour of reading a week by stealing 10 minutes a day here and there.
Here’s a look at my personal reading schedule.
First and Last. I start and end my day with reading. My day begins with Bible study and prayer. This is followed by a bit of reading, usually around 20 minutes. By doing this 5 days a week, I gain 1 hour and 40 minutes of productive reading each week. I also end each day with reading. This is usually a minimum of 30 minutes and maximum of 1 hour. By doing this 7 days a week, I gain a minimum of 3 hours and 30 minutes a week.
My “first and last” strategy gives me a minimum of 4 hours and 50 minutes of reading a week.
Weekend Warrior. I have devoted time for reading on the weekends. My day off is Friday. I typically spend the morning out on the town with my daughter and son. After lunch he goes down for a nap and she heads to her room for rest time. I usually pick up an additional 1 hour and 30 minutes of reading. I can typically pick up this time on Saturday as well (an additional 1 hour and 30 minutes). Sunday mornings are extremely busy for me. Yet, after lunch my family typically goes down for naps. I, on the other hand, usually pick up an addition 1 hour and 30 minutes of reading. Or I head out for a run. If I choose a run over reading, I’ll pick up the lost reading time in the evening.
My “weekend warrior” strategy gives me a minimum of 4 hours and 30 minutes of additional reading each weekend.
Grand Total: 9 hours and 20 minutes of reading each week.
If I assume that I’m an average reader reading an average book – I should have no problem reading 2 to 3 books each week. Of course, I often read books longer than the average book. Presidential biographies are often somewhere between door stops and boat anchors.