How to Read a Whole Damn Book Every Week
By Kevin Nguyen│ GQ│3 min
Every year, I read over a hundred books. This means I polish off somewhere between two and three books a week. I’m not saying that to brag (okay, I am), but I really believe that anyone can make time to read. Chances are you wish you read more, since everyone feels this way (except me, I’m amazing). The secret is to not think of reading as a precious thing. If you’re only going to open a book on the off chance you have several hours to kill in a comfy chair with a glass of scotch, it’s only ever going to happen when you have several hours to kill in a comfy chair with a glass of scotch.
Being well read means making it a part of your daily life—not treating it as a luxury. And it’s not that hard. Like all things, it just takes a little bit of discipline and a little bit of trickery.
Don’t read before bed, read before work
Most people keep their reading on their nightstand. If you read at night, you probably only get through a few pages before you get sleepy. Instead, I recommend reading in the morning. Even if you’re not an early riser, use the time you spend checking Instagram in bed to read a couple chapters. (I promise not much has happened since you opened the app at midnight.) Make coffee and ease your way into the day.
Take advantage of your commute
If you take the subway or bus to work, skip the podcasts and read (Comedy Bang Bang is maybe the opposite of reading a book). A half-hour commute can easily turn into five hours of dedicated reading time every week—enough for most people to read an entire book.
Read on your phone
Before you tell me how much you “enjoy the smell of print books” like some kind of psycho, let me try to sell you on the convenience of reading in the Kindle or iBooks app: you’ll always have your books with you, and most importantly, you can always get through a little reading in those lost minutes of the day—waiting in line for coffee, for the 4-train running behind schedule, and for the bathroom because you drank too much coffee. Those pages add up fast.
If a book sucks, stop reading it
You don’t have to commit to a book that drags. In fact, it’s more likely to make you quit your reading habit. Sure, you might feel obligated to finish a book you spent $15 on. But think about it this way: if it’s going to be another four or five painful hours to finish it, you can afford to put it down. And of course there’s always…
The library! It’s good
The library is an amazing institution that understands one universal principle: free shit rules. On top of easing any financial pressure to follow through on a book you’re not enjoying, there’s also the added incentive of finishing something before its due date. Also, almost every library now supports some kind of ebook borrowing program. So once you’re set up, you might not even have to leave your home to get library books.
Do more than one book at a time
I’m usually reading several very different kinds of books concurrently: a novel, something nonfiction, and maybe a comic book. That way, when I sit down to read, there’s always something that fits the mood I’m in. When I know I’ll have an hour to read, I’ll settle into the novel; maybe after a particularly grueling day at work, the comic book makes more sense. Basically, always be in the middle of something ambitious and something easier, which will ensure there’s a book for however you’re feeling at the time.
Read during commercial breaks
Watching live TV? Just sneak in a little reading. This works especially well while watching sports (especially football or baseball) at home. Just mute the TV and read in five-minute intervals. Fun fact: you could’ve read a thousand books in the amount of time you’ve spent subjected to Geico ads.
Keep track of what you read
This is a bit of FitBit-style gaming. Keeping a list of what you’ve read will give you a sense of accomplishment. You can use GoodReads, but honestly, it’s just easier to jot books down in your phone’s Notes app. Also good: get into the habit of keeping a list of books you want to read next. (Or just listen to our recommendations.)