Simple Tips to Read More Books
Updated on 21 Feb 2024 • 6 min read • posted by Maria H
Reading is becoming more and more popular every day. TikTok is filling up with booktokers, experts are sharing their collections of top books to read, and there are more and more examples of this. Additionally, “to read books” is one of the most popular New Year's resolutions.
And this is not surprising. Our world is full of information flows, and sometimes we just want to take a break from it. Scientists have determined that recreational reading is associated with reductions in psychological distress. Reading enhances our memory and improves concentration and communication skills. Also, research “Stress Management Strategies for Students” by scientists from Seton Hall University and UT Southwestern Medical Center has shown that just 30 minutes of reading can lower your blood pressure and heart rate. Thus, in this article, we will discuss how to read more and still remember what you’ve read.
How to Read More Books
It would seem that reading a book is a fairly possible and simple task. However, there are always obstacles: college, work, family, meetings, etc. So how can each of us manage to read more? What is the secret? Now we're going to give you some simple and effective tips to help you (finally) read more books.
While the brain isn't a muscle, it similarly requires training. Reading promotes cognitive function, slows down memory decline, reduces stress, and expands vocabulary. In addition, such "workouts" will make it easier for you to store, transform, develop, and retrieve information.
The "I need to read more because I need to get better grades" or "everyone is reading" option will not work for long. If that's your motivation, I'm afraid you won't enjoy the process. And you will probably forget what you read the next day. So let's first figure out how to find your inner motivation.
As we are talking about reading, ask yourself the question "What is the real reason why you want to read (more)?". Note that the question is not "Why have to you read" but "Why do you want to". The wording is crucial because it affects our perception. Let's imagine that you are a medical student and have to read several books about neuroscience. It's great if you're a fan of this topic, but if not, identify the reason why you need to. Understand how the nervous system functions or what causes disorders. This means that you want to learn more about neuroscience and you need to read a book. To generalize, the motivation may be a desire to expand your knowledge on a topic.
We all want to live longer. And who would have thought that reading could help us do that? The nationally representative Health and Retirement Study followed a cohort of 3,635 adult participants for 12 years and found that those who read books lived about 2 years longer than those who either didn't read or read magazines and other forms of media.
Discover What You Like
While studying at school or college you always have the list of books to read. And it can be a good start to understand what you like. There are about 50 book genres of books. Then imagine the number of books in the world. To understand which one is worth your attention and time you can read reviews, or find the book's ratings such as best productivity books, top mindfulness books, 10 Best Books of 2023, etc. Go ahead and experiment on your own and find what you like. Be aware that It isn’t necessary to read the full book, you can find the sample of the novel and read them.
Make Reading Accessible
The next point to highlight is accessibility. Have you ever wondered why spending time in socials is easier than cleaning the house, reading a book, or going for a walk? It’s all about so-called friction. You always have access to your phone (nowadays) and as a result – to socials. Therefore, we need to make it easy to read a book. There is a simple process of how to access a new book:
- Choose a book (from the list) or topic you want to learn about.
- Decide which format you want to read (printed book, e-book, or audio version).
- Check the availability of the book in a store or library. As an alternative, you can also ask your friends if they have one.
- Get the book and put it in a visible and accessible place: on your desk, by your bed, etc. If it’s an audiobook – create a bookmark on your home page.
Be honest with yourself. To read 50–100 pages a day is an overwhelming task, especially if you are a beginner or just have a lot of other stuff to do. Then what about 2–10 pages a day? Sounds more realistic to you?
If you're just starting, don't rush to set strict deadlines. It’s unlikely to remember anything if you're in a hurry. Therefore, find a comfortable spot — perhaps a cozy corner in your home or a quiet coffee shop — and let yourself get lost in the pages at your own pace.
Use the SMART method to set a goal. And remember that life is full of surprises. Some days you may have a lot of time to read, and some days you may not. That's okay! Be flexible. Just pick up a book when you can and keep going.
Create a Habit
Start with a manageable goal – reading for at least 10 minutes or two pages daily. It's small enough to not be daunting, but still gets you into the rhythm. The key is consistency. However, if life gets too fussy, it's okay to skip a day or two. But try not to skip more in a row, as it will disrupt the process of habit formation.
Next, choose a time of day that works best for you. Making reading a part of your daily routine helps set off that internal 'it's reading time!' alarm in your brain. Reading a few pages with your breakfast can start up the brain. If you prefer evenings, reading will help your brain to relax before going to bed. Try various options and find what works best for you.
Most importantly, enjoy the process. Reading shouldn't feel like a chore. Find books that intrigue you, that make you think, or even make you laugh. This journey is all about discovering the joy of reading at your own pace, in your own way.
Interact with a Book
Often we just read a few pages and after a month forget almost everything we’ve read. Thus we’ve prepared our best tips on how to interact with a book to actually remember what you read.
- Use the SQ3R method. If you’re reading some learning materials or non-fiction literature, it’s a cool and effective way to read actively. Shortly you need to follow 5 key steps: survey, question, read, recite, and review. To learn more about this technique and how to use it – read our article “SQ3R Reading Strategy and How to Apply It”.
- Highlight quotes and put sticky notes. This one is tricky because if you simply underline and label the text… it won’t get any result. So we recommend extending this process. Near the chosen quote, write a short summary (2-4 words). It’ll help you to recall what its main idea is next time you look for it in the book. It’s even better to store somewhere the quotes: write them in a notebook or on a digital device (via Word doc or Notion).
- Apply the knowledge you have gained. What we like the most about reading clubs is that you have a community to discuss the works. So find one or share your insights with friends. You can write blog posts on Medium, or mention the book in your research papers.
- Track the progress. We find the best way to track your reading progress is to use the book tracking app. As you create there your library, track your reading speed, and even make notes. Our best book trackers are Bookly and Goodreads.
We know how challenging can be to find the book to read. Thus we recommend to start your reading journey with the “12 Rules for Life” by the Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson. In his book, Peterson combines his thought-provoking ideas with facts from biology, literature, mythology, and psychology. He critically analyzes the nihilism inherent in the millennial generation, emphasizes the importance of developing one's own individuality, and convincingly argues for the need to take full responsibility for one's own life.
Also, here are top listicles of non-fiction books that deserve your attention:
As you find your motivation, understand what genres or authors you like, and feel this excitement caused by reading – you’ll become a fan of reading. The reading will automatically be integrated into your lifestyle. You can create your wish lists of books, write reviews, and give the book recommendations.
The book is still the way to meet great people, to travel in time and space. And of course, this is a trend that will never go out of style. Don't hesitate, read and go with confidence to your goal!