How to read (and finish) more books

Photo from Pixabay

by Elaine Cotoner

I haven’t read as many books as you think I have. I start 52-week reading challenges and stop counting after two. I hoard books on book sales, and then leave them at home to gather dust. I’ve read more fanfiction last year than actual books.

This year, I decided to get my act together to read (and finish) more books. This post is for my friends who also want to do the same.

1. Pick one

Start with what you have. Look at your library and pick one book. If you don’t have books yet, go to a bookstore and buy one book.

Treat it like an exercise routine, start small. Pick a book you can finish. Picking one is hard, but the point isn’t to choose the right one off the bat. The point is to start.

I started with All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. It was uplifting, composed of short essays, and is a small book of 186 pages

2. Bring it everywhere.

It’s hard to carve out reading time. So instead, bring a book everywhere so you can fill the empty pockets in your day. Stuck in traffic? Waiting in line?  The baby miraculously took a nap? Bring the book out.

When I didn’t have a book with me, I spent this time on Facebook or suffering through the TV shows in the bus. It turned out that I had time to read; I just had to be prepared.

3. Finish it.

Say it with me: I swear to finish the book I chose, no matter what. Even if it feels like I don’t have time, even if I only read two words a day. Even if there are more interesting books—especially if there are more interesting books. It only counts when I finish it. So help me God

4. Read actively.

Get the most out of your reading experience. If you’re the type who highlights and writes on the margins, do that. If you like taking notes, do that. You can also post a review on Goodreads or on social media. Make sure you remember what you learned so you can surprise strangers with random quotes. Kidding.

I bought sticky tags to mark the quotes I like to type them later. I also write blog posts about the books I finished to make sure I understood it

5. Celebrate.

You’ve finished your first book this year! Congratulations! Celebrate small victories because it keeps you going.

6. Read the next one.

You can go back to step one and choose a more challenging book. Or, you can:

  • Start a series. A good series can keep you charging through several books.
  • Follow your favorite people. Emma Watson started a feminism book club on Goodreads. Barack Obama shares his summer reading lists—most of which I marked for future reading.
  • Start a reading challenge. GirlXOXO compiled this list of year-long reading challenges you can choose from. Of course, you can make your own reading list or read all the books in your library.

Don’t be sad if you don’t finish a reading challenge. As long as you’re reading, you’ve already won.


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