How do you read so much? How can I read more?
People often ask these questions, expecting simple answers. Reality is much more complex: there are too many possible answers, many of which contain contradictions.
I’ve accumulated reading strategies that work for me throughout the years. This is my attempt to list most of them.
These strategies might help, or they might not work for you. Your approach to reading should be designed with a single person in mind: yourself.
Read before breakfast or social media.
Read every night before bed.
(Always keep books and/or kindle at bedside or under pillow.)
Always read on lone commutes.
Read in waiting rooms and/or while waiting for friends. Read whenever the world is late.
(Never leave the house without a book and don’t wait for the perfect moment. Create that moment wherever you are.)
Reserve entire days for reading.
(Capitalism steals many hours from your life, but it cannot dictate what you do on your days off. You’re allowed to binge books without socializing or doing chores, once in a while.)
Read in multiple languages.
Read multiple books at once.
Read multiple genres at once.
(Options are friends. It’s helpful to have multiple book/genre/format ready for different moods. You can read for ideas, pleasure, escapism, knowledge, self-development… It makes no sense for me to read one book at a time, because a single book can’t satisfy all these reasons for reading.)
Read on multiple formats at once.
Use audiobooks to multitask (with chores, art, video games).
(Different formats engage different parts of the brain. They present different challenges and opportunities: My kindle allows me to read in bed without getting up to turn off the light. It allows me to adjust font size to my preference. Audiobooks suit me when drawing/painting since it frees my eyes from following the words. Paperbacks are the most fun to annotate.)
Acquire books from authors you already love.
(Already read them all? Research their friends and acquire their books as well.)
Acquire books on sale.
Pluck discoveries from the public domain.
Ask for the books your friends are going to throw away (or send to charity).
(Books are expensive. Take advantage when they’re not. I was tempted to add library to this list, but I haven’t borrowed a book from there in years.)
Don’t overthink what to read next.
Don’t read reviews before reading.
Don’t research context too much before reading.
(Don’t waste time thinking about reading when you could be reading. Marketing builds expectations that might not be met. Move on to the next book and research context after forming an opinion.)
Reread old favourites.
Give a bad book a second chance.
(Your experience might change. Wait 5+ years between rereads for best results.)
Take your friends’ recommendations. Discuss with them.
(Reading is often lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Show your friends you trust their opinions by taking their recommendations. Most will be grateful to be heard & have new opportunities to discuss books they took the time to read. It also makes them more willing to read your own recommendations.)
Read out loud. Read slowly.
(These steps might seem odd at first, but the goal is to read a lot. Not to read fast or rush. Reading out loud has an immense effect on concentration. It engages different parts of the brain, unlocking a layer of enjoyment. Reading slowly helps to access a flow state.)
Annotate your paper books.
(Trust me. Treating books as precious is a result of capitalism. We’ve been raised to think the value of books is highest when they look untouched, but that’s untrue. Their resale value might be, but not their personal value. Medievals loved marginalia (before they even had printing presses, when books were much more expensive to produce!) Books that belong to you are meant to be annotated with your journey and thoughts—not remain sterile and pristine.)
Read whenever you are lonely or want to isolate yourself.
Recite mantra (books are better than people).
Read for comfort on sick days.
(Escapism has always been my favourite medicine. Books are my most solid support system.)
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