Geetanjali Mukherjee

Saturday, April 9, 2016

How I Read 100+ Books in 2015

I have been tracking the number of books I read each year since 2012. I firmly believe that whatever you track and measure you can improve. That first year I think I read around 40 books. I kept a mostly up-to-date list of what I was reading, and found I was steadily reading more. A quick glance at my records show that I read around 125 books in 2014, a large amount of which was fiction, and a few books were ones that I didn’t complete. Last year, I read slightly less, around 110 books or so, some of which were ones I have read before, and most of which was non-fiction (a large amount was research for the book I wrote and published in 2015). 

Why Read Books?
I know 100 or 120 books sounds like a lot. Most people don’t have time in their busy lives to read more than 2 books a week on average. And most don’t want to. Then why am I writing about this and why should you care? Because while you may not want to read 2 books a week, you may want to read 2 a month. Or without setting a specific goal, you may just want to read more. You might be inspired by Mark Zuckerberg’s reading list and think about expanding your horizons. 

Reading helps us to learn something new, expose ourselves to new ideas, empathize more with people and generally improve our thinking. So many books have completely changed my life, by exposing me to an amazing new idea, or introducing me to characters that are as real to me as my friends. I find that reading a book is more fulfilling than reading several articles on the same topic (in the case of non-fiction), because the author has spent a lot of time condensing their thoughts and doing research on one specific area. 

Also as a writer, if I don’t read, then I run out of ideas and input very quickly. Most successful authors agree that you can’t be a writer if you don’t first read, a lot. 

We all know that we should read more, and many people in fact do want to get into the reading habit, but don’t know how to find the time in their already packed schedules. Here are some of my tips for getting more books read in 2016, whether that is 10 or 100.

How To Read More Books

1. Make Books Accessible
I make it really easy to always have a book on or near me. When I know I will be spending a lot of time traveling (not driving) or have to wait somewhere, I carry a book with me. This is mostly the reason I buy pretty large purses, so I can stuff a book in there. I also have several apps on my phone which are filled with books - I have iBooks, the Kindle app, and I used to have Scribd.  I also make trips to the local library and come home with arm-loads of books, which have to be read by a certain date otherwise I will just have to lug them back. If you have easy access to books, you will find it easier to read.

2. Use Wasted Time Blocks
I read on the bus and subway, while waiting in line at the grocery store, at the doctor’s office, while waiting for a friend to join me for lunch. Basically anywhere I have a few minutes, I read. I sometimes take a book to the gym, although lately I have switched to listening to podcasts, which is far easier. Try loading some apps with books on your phone, and next time instead of playing a game or just surfing Facebook mindlessly, get engrossed in a great story or read a fascinating non-fiction book. I find it makes the waiting time not only bearable, I am usually mildly disappointed when I have to stop reading because I reached my bus stop or my friend arrived to join me. 

3. Read What You Enjoy
This I think is one of the most important reasons I get so much read. I used to actually read a lot less, because I always forced myself to pick up book I “should” read, or I tried to dissuade myself from reading “fun” books because they weren’t educational. Reading should be enjoyable, not a chore. Don’t force yourself to get through Anna Karenina because that’s what you ought to be reading, or conversely pick up the latest non-fiction book climbing the best-seller charts even though you hate business books because that’s what everyone is reading. If you aren’t used to reading or have let the habit fall off, find books that you know you will enjoy to get back to it. I always make a note of something that I come across and think I will like, and check out the blurb or the sample to ensure that I like the writing style and tone of the book. Life is too short to waste time reading books you don’t want to (unless you have to for school of course). 

4. Steal Time From Other Pursuits
This is kind of obvious - if you don’t make time in your life to read, it won’t happen. We all have the same amount of time in a day as everyone else, so how do you squeeze in one more thing? The first step is to ask yourself if you really do want to read more, or is it something that you think you should do, but isn’t really something you value that deeply? If you do want to read, then next ask yourself what would you be willing to give up or cut down on? In my case, I read instead of going on Facebook or mindless web surfing. In fact, I would probably read more if I cut back on some of my TV time. Maybe instead of reading 10 articles online, you can read a couple of chapters of a book. Or the next time you have 15 minutes, instead of mindlessly switching over to play a game or go on social media, pick up a book and read a few pages. 

I think we are pretty lucky nowadays and have easy access to books. E-books are much cheaper, and many great books are available heavily discounted or for free. When I was younger I didn’t really have access to as many books as I wanted, and maybe that is the reason I try to make the most of the opportunities I do have today. I am lucky to live in a country with lots of public libraries, which are even if not free, worth the membership for the unparalleled access to knowledge. No matter where you live, if you have a computer or a smart-phone, you will never run out of books to read or information to consume. So why not implement one of my handy tips, and pick up a new book to read today. 

If this post is helpful, please share it via one of the buttons below on social media. If you have any other tips or suggestions, I would love to hear them. 

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