How I Read 170 Books in a Year (Or, Tips on How to Read More)

Posted January 19, 2018 by Madalyn || 34 Comments

Hello everyone! Today, I’m here with a bit of a different post. When reviewing my reading in 2017, the thing that stands out to me most is how much more I read last year than in any other previous (recorded) year. I normally average between 60 and 80 books per year, but last year I read 170. That’s 100 MORE books than I typically read in a year. I did notice changes in the way I read that I think led to this dramatic increase, so today, I thought I’d share some of the tips and tricks I, a full-time student with two part-time jobs, have successfully employed to help me read more.

Now, two disclaimers before we get into the tips: first off, I know 170 books is a huge amount to some people, and negligible to others. There are PLENTY of people out there who read more than me, and I’m by no means claiming to be a resident expert. All of this is based off what has worked for me in the context of my reading. Secondly, I’m aware that tons of posts/videos exist on this very topic already, but I do feel like I had something to add to the conversation, hence why I’m making this post anyway. I hope these tips help anyone who’s trying to read more, whether they want to read ten books this year or 1,000. Let’s get into the list!

madalyn’s tips for reading more

Audiobooks, audiobooks, audiobooks.

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but I can’t overstate how much audiobooks have increased my reading. They’re great because you can fit them into so many parts of your day. I listen to mine while I get ready in the morning, on my walk to class, on the train, and often for an hour or so before I fall asleep. They’re a great way to tackle your backlist TBR, because if you’re like me, you’re swamped with frontlist review copies to read and review and don’t often have time to read your backlist books. Plus, it’s super easy (and free) to get audiobooks through your library! Often, when I’m in a reading slump, I have no desire to read a physical book, but I can almost always listen to an audiobook. (Bonus fun fact: studies show that your brain processes information almost the same way whether you read a book or listen to it on audio.)

Switch up your formats.

Similar to the first point, I find that switching between physical books, ebooks, and audiobooks not only prevents me from feeling slumpy, but also helps me read more and faster. I have discovered that I get burnt out much more easily if I’m reading books in the same format. I particularly find ebooks to be useful in this scenario, because I read so much faster on my ereader. Next time you feel a reading slump coming on, try an ebook or audiobook if you usually read physical books, or vice versa.

Be discerning with your TBR.

I can’t emphasize this point enough: be choosy about the books you pick up. Don’t read a book you know you won’t enjoy just because of the hype, or because your best friend is always nagging you to read it. Yes, it’s important and rewarding to branch out into new genres and read outside your normal comfort zone sometimes, but if you haven’t already done this, look back at your reading history and see if there’s a pattern among the books you rate highly. The pattern could be a genre, a theme, the fact thatΒ  you gravitate toward character-driven as opposed to plot-driven stories, or whatever. Read reviews from people you trust before you pick up a new book. Just… read books you know you have a high chance of enjoying. If you only pick up books you’re really excited about and think you’ll love, you’ll be more motivated to read.

Don’t be afraid to DNF or put a book aside for later.

I know lots of readers struggle with this, but if you’re not enjoying a book, PUT. IT. DOWN. You can DNF it if you know it’s not for you, but if that feels too final, you can always put it aside to come back to later (I did this with Six of Crows, which ended up becoming one of my favorite books of all time when I finally picked it up again). Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying, y’all. Think of all the awesome books you could be reading instead. And if it’s a review book? Just send the publisher a message explaining why you couldn’t get through the book. That way you don’t have to finish a book you don’t want to read, your Netgalley feedback ratio stays intact (spoken from experience), and the publisher knows why you didn’t post a review. Everyone wins.

Experiment with becoming a one-sitting reader.

Lots of posts like this will tell you to “read when you can” or “read a little bit each night.” While that might work for some people, it has never worked for me. Personally, I prefer to block aside a large chunk of time on my day off to just read. Often, I don’t have time to read Monday-Saturday because of school and work, but then I’ll read a book in one sitting on Sunday. I find that “binge-reading” is the most effective way to read more for me personally. I’d much rather consume a story at once over the course of a few hours than in ten-minute increments over the course of a few weeks. So, if you, too, struggle with the “read whenever you get a spare moment” mindset, give this approach a try.

Take breaks from reading when you need them (and don’t let the guilt get to you!).

Sometimes, you just want to marathon Brooklyn Nine-Nine all over from the beginning in your spare time instead of reading (AKA me for the past two weeks). THAT’S A-OKAY. Don’t force yourself to read when you don’t feel motivated to do so. We started all this because reading was fun for us, right? Don’t let the pressures of blogging and reviewing take the fun out of the actual process of reading. If you take a break, you’ll come back to reading feeling much more excited and motivated than before. Breaks help prevent the dreaded book burnout.

Graphic novels, y’all.

I pretty much saved the best tip for last, because graphic novels are a gift and I never see enough people taking advantage of them. First off, they make it super easy to reach your Goodreads goal because they’re short and usually only take about an hour to read. But also, they’re just awesome. Similar to the trick of switching up the mediums of the books you’re reading, picking up a graphic novel in between novels is a great way to cleanse your reading palette, so to speak, and to reset you between stories and worlds. Plus, who doesn’t like books with pictures, seriously?

I hope you found these tips somewhat helpful!

Do you have any tips for reading more? Do you agree with any of mine? Leave them in the comments!

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Madalyn is a 20-something music student and lifelong lover of reading. When she's not reading or singing, you're likely to find her drinking coffee, traveling, or buying more lipstick than one person could possibly need.
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34 responses to “How I Read 170 Books in a Year (Or, Tips on How to Read More)

  1. YES this is a great post! I’ve definitely employed pretty much all of these to read more. Audiobooks helped me so much when I was commuting and getting ready for work. Now that I’m working from home it definitely doesn’t help me as much (whoops) but I still love a good audiobook when grocery shopping or showering. Also, totally agree about multiple formats!! I actually have a little paragraph in my post for today that talks about reading format variety.

  2. I would love to do audiobooks however I have a very short attention span I usually get lost in the middle xD I agree with the second point though, switching up between ebook and physical books really prevent me from getting slump often!

  3. These are all great tips, Madalyn! I had done a similar post a few years back on my old blog, and number one on that list was definitely DNF more if you feel like you’re not enjoying a book. I always feel like I drudge through a book I don’t like and take forever to finish, so why waste my time. Yes, to audiobooks too. I know they’ve become a huge savior to Nereyda, especially!

  4. I really appreciate this post, especially since I only read 30 books in 2017. I know that is a lot to some people, but I had been averaging around 60 in prior years so my stats were cut in half. The big change was going to college, which has messed up all of my schedules not just my reading schedule. Like you, I don’t have a lot of time to read for pleasure during the week, so I am definitely going to try one-sitting reading over weekends.
    Unfortunately, I am one of those people who doesn’t take advantage of graphic novels. On this, I plead ignorance because I am not familiar with the genre. Do you have any suggestions for graphic novels? I have no idea where to start!

    • Thank you! Oh, man, my freshman year of college, my reading was almost nonexistent. It took me a while to get into a system that worked for me! Ooh, as far as graphic novels go, I LOVE the Sex Criminals series. It’s HILARIOUS and I’ve laughed out loud at every volume. I also love graphic memoirs like John Lewis’s March Trilogy and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. Monstress and Saga are great series if you like fantasy/sci-fi.

  5. Oh man, I need to learn how to DNF! I just can’t. If I read anything less than 20% I feel like I haven’t given the book a fair shot and if I read anything more than 20% I have to finish the book because I want it to count for my GR challenge!

    I also need to learn how to sit in one setting, I get so antsy when it comes to reading – especially in public.

    Also I managed to read 7 books this year and that was ALL BECAUSE OF AUDIOBOOKS. I love them, I will scream my love from the highest mountain top!

    • DNFing saves me from reading burnout SO often. Reading in public is hard for me, too! Audiobooks (god bless them) have helped me a lot with that, though, since I feel like it’s easier to listen to something in public than to read a physical book.

  6. Cas

    This is an awesome post! I’ve started reading more audiobooks recently and it’s really helped because I can read during the day and even when I’m not up for reading, listen to an audiobook at night. I also prefer reading in one sitting and definitely read more that way! Hopefully with the addition of audiobooks this year I’ll be able to read more books.

  7. If you read 1 book a year, you have read more than most adults in America. So, congratulations! I am quite impressed with your numbers. I would never have been able to accomplish that when I was in school. Bravo! Once I found the type of books that worked for me in audio format, I totally embraced the format and now sort of love it. It works really well for “reading” my contemporary romances, and I knocked 80 books off my TBR via audiobook. Great suggestions!

    • Thanks so much! It’s definitely been a process for me to figure out how to incorporate reading into my schedule in college, but I think I’ve finally got it down. And agreed! I definitely have my go-to genres when it comes to audiobooks.

  8. Yes to graphic novels and audiobooks!! I kind of discovered graphic novels last year and they have changed my life! I also love listening, but I’ve found that podcasts have started tying up my audiobook time in the last year or so. I’m also a pro and DNFing! XD Great tips!

    • I’m so glad you love both of those formats, too! I have to designate separate “podcast” and “audiobook” time so I get in enough of each, haha (because I also have SO many podcasts I love). Yay for DNFing!!

  9. All of these points can be helpful. I can’t even start to say how relieved I was once I let myself DNF books I wasn’t really interested in! It just changed my whole reading experience πŸ™‚
    Great post Madalyn.

  10. Ali

    I’ve been trying a few of these tips actually and so glad they work. I used to be so scared to DNF books or sit them aside that I would make myself read them. That of course took the joy out of reading. This year my goal is to read what I want and if I don’t like it around 90 pages I either put it aside or DNF.

  11. Chrystal M

    Great tips. Audiobooks are my thing lately and I’ve been using them mostly for backlist books to catch up. And my library has so many to choose from. I listen in the car to and from work. In summer, I listen while cutting the lawn.

    Switching formats is a great tip that I’m going to start implementing. And putting books aside for later or DNFing when necessary are all things I’m going to embrace this year. Cheers!

  12. This is a great post; I feel like I got personally called out because I don’t enjoy DNF’ing books lol but it’s so true, though. I can’t imagine the amount of times I’ve started reading a book and absolutely despised it but couldn’t put it down because of how stubborn I am. Also, my best friend recently disclosed to me that she started reading ebooks and how much she’s been reading because of that. I definitely think I’ll be experimenting with reading ebooks before I EVER do audiobooks because the concept of audiobooks still baffles me, haha.

    • Thank you! And hahaha, not at all! I just wish I had learned to DNF sooner, because it would’ve prevented me from so many awful books, haha. I find that I read ebooks so much faster than physical books, so I hope that format works for you, too!

  13. Oooo! These bullet points sound so familiar but new at the same time! I like that you chose to set one post specifically to this goal of reading so many books instead of choosing to do it over multiple posts! I will try out these points this year to see if they work for me! πŸ™‚

  14. The Book Recluse Review

    Audiobooks has already increased my reading amount for this year. However, I have not mastered the art of DNF. I want to review everything (even the stuff I do not like as well) and I can’t do that unless I finish.

  15. I love reading posts/watching videos like this, and I loved reading this post. I completely agree with your binge-reading point, if I like a book I’m going to want to finish it in 1-2 days instead of over a couple of weeks because then it drags on and I feel like I’m not as into it anymore.

  16. Cristina @ Girl in the Pages

    I LOVE THIS POST. I STRUGGLE with audio books but I know they would change my life if I could get into them (for example, I spent 10 hours commuting in my car this past week, I could have easily listened to an audiobook during that time!!) I love the idea of blocking off a chunk of time to read…usually with work I only have time to read for 20 minutes or so before bed at night and I find it takes me FOREVER to get through books that way. I’d love to get to 100 books this year, I can’t wait to employ some of these tips!

    • Yay, I’m so glad you found it helpful!! It took me forever to get into audiobooks– I started by listening to them a little before bed, and now I pretty much always have one in my ears. I’m telling you, blocking off larger amounts of time to read has REVOLUTIONIZED MY LIFE.

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