How to Read More Books (Even If You’re Busy!)

As this is a common problem I’ve faced during busy seasons in my life, I wanted to share my best tips for how to read more books – even if you don’t have a ton of free time!

No matter how busy you are, you deserve some time to yourself to enjoy some fabulous books. There will always be times in my life that are busier than others, but I hope I will never give up my love for reading (and I hope you won’t, either!).

Whether you’ve set a reading goal for yourself or you just want to find more ways to enjoy your favorite books, these simple tips will help you find more time for reading in your life.

how to read more books in less time

Easy Ways to Read More Books

1. Listen to Audiobooks

I included this one first, because audiobooks are a huge help for those who aren’t able to just sit down and read for a decent stretch of time.

Most people have chores and cleaning to do, or a commute/drive, or cook for themselves at least occasionally. Fortunately, many of these activities don’t require a ton of concentration, so they’re perfect opportunities for listening to an audiobook!

Audiobooks are especially useful when you’re stuck in the car for long periods of time, but they can be great for working out or going for a leisurely stroll.

Personally, I have a harder time focusing when I listen to audiobooks versus reading physical books (because my mind tends to wander). But it’s much easier for me if I have something repetitive to do – especially with my hands, like cooking or cleaning.

2. Try Reading a Graphic Novel

There are some incredible graphic novel series out there (see a short list of recommendations below), and they’re great palate cleansers after reading a tome.

That’s not to say they can’t have depth of story. In fact, this genre excels at that, especially when told in series form. 

Realistic:

  • Persepolis
  • Blankets
  • This One Summer 

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Horror:

  • Saga
  • The Wicked + The Divine
  • Paper Girls
  • Watchmen
  • The Sandman
  • Fables
  • Locke + Key

3. ALWAYS Carry a Book With You

Bring a book with you everywhere. You never know when you’ll get stuck waiting while running errands or at the dentist’s office. If you have a book with you, that time doesn’t have to be wasted!

And if you can’t fit a book in your bag, then there’s nothing wrong with using an e-reader (like a Kindle).

An e-reader is especially helpful for vacations (rather than stuffing your suitcase full of books, which unfortunately doesn’t always work out so well). Reading is reading!

Book sleeve / Book protector - Peter Pan fabric

One caveat: it’s a sad day when you pull your favorite paperback from your bag only to find it’s been worn or warped.

If you do have room for a paperback in your purse or backpack, I would suggest buying a book sleeve to protect your books!

I’ve seen some creative book lovers selling book sleeves made from awesome fabrics on Instagram: check out @bookbeau and @bookbestiesuk. You can also find book protectors on Etsy.

4. Mix Up the Genres You Read

This is one of the best tactics I’ve found for avoiding or escaping the dreaded reading slump. Because if you’re not in the mood for a particular book, you may put off reading altogether – which definitely won’t help you read more!

If you typically stick to fiction (like me), try picking up a nonfiction book on a topic you’re interested in, or a memoir written by someone you find intriguing.

If you typically read adult books, there are some wonderful children’s and young adult books that are equally as engaging for adults. Who knows – you might find a new favorite genre!

5. Leave a Book of Short Stories in the Car or at Work

That way, when you’re running errands or have a few minutes to spare, you can read small chunks at a time without forgetting what happened the last time you picked up the book.

6. Keep Yourself Accountable AND Give Yourself Some Wiggle Room

Record your yearly reading goal on Goodreads, and check in on it every once in a while to help motivate you. It will tell you if you’re behind, and by how many books.

If you’re a planner, write down which books you plan to read each month and check them off that TBR (to-be-read) list as you complete them. But don’t feel like it’s set in stone!

There’s nothing that will stall your reading goals (or enjoyment of reading!) more than being forced to read a book that doesn’t sound appealing, or that isn’t capturing your attention.

If you’re more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, try to have a stack of books around you at all times for when the reading mood strikes. That way, you’ll have lots of choices to pick from and you’ll be less likely to get discouraged.

how to read more books

Actually, I’ll go a step further – EVERYONE should keep stacks of books lying around at all times (or neatly organized bookshelves, if that’s your thing). Personally, I do both. It’s just good for the soul.

7. Join a Reading Challenge on Bookstagram

This is a great way to branch out of your reading bubble. #Bookstagram is an incredible Instagram community of like-minded bibliophiles who are always willing to support each other or provide a book recommendation. 

A reading challenge typically includes a short list of themes on which to base your book choices for the month. For example, ‘a book with a color in the title’, ‘a book that’s been on your TBR list for over a year’, or ‘a book set at sea’. 

Reading Challenge Watercolor Stack of Books
(Photo used with permission from @foxandwit.)

These are especially perfect for those who have trouble choosing their next book to read. Doing a challenge means others will be involved to help motivate you, and vice versa.

It gives you a chance to get creative and try books you may not have thought to pick up. Check out @foxandwit on Instagram for some really cool monthly reading challenges.

8. Read a Book Aloud With Your Partner/Child/Friend/Sibling

Spending quality time with family and friends is one of my favorite things to do, and so is reading. I’m sure I’m not alone in this sentiment.

You can switch off who gets to read aloud (or just listen to an audiobook together), and make sure to leave room for discussion afterward. This is one scenario where you can have your cake AND eat it (as long as you can agree on a book)!

9. Participate in a Read-A-Thon (or Just Set One Up For Yourself)

A read-a-thon is just what it sounds like: an amount of time set aside for “marathon” reading. You grab a stack of books, some snacks, and a comfy chair, and read as much as you can in a certain amount of hours (or days!).

This is a great way to focus on reading without any distractions. I highly recommend choosing a mix of different genres, that way you can mix things up based on your current reading mood.

Here are more tips for how to plan a read-a-thon!

So, that’s it: my unfailing list of tricks to help you conquer your reading goals. If you’re skeptical that some of these will actually work for you, that’s okay. Maybe just pick one or two that fit your lifestyle best and try them out.

Just like for me, they might work wonders when you find you’re neglecting your reading habits. The key is to be intentional with them.

 Good luck, and happy reading!

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