Conquering your to-read pile doesn’t have to be hard work.

By Elizabeth Entenman
Updated March 23, 2018
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How many books do you read per year? Chances are, it’s not nearly as many as you’d like. Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to up your reading intake. Like with any habit, once you form a reading routine and stick with it, you’ll be amazed at how many titles you’re crossing off your TBR list. Try these seven helpful tips to read more books and conquer your reading challenge.

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Divide and conquer

Devoting a small amount of time to reading every day adds up quickly. Set a goal for how many pages you want to read per day—say, 20. At that rate, by the end of the week, you’ll be at least 100 pages into your book. For an even bigger challenge, divide the number of pages in a book by how quickly you want to finish it. Let’s say you want to read a 350-page book in a week. That’s just 50 pages per day. Doesn’t sound so daunting, does it?

Read first thing in the morning

A lot of advice about how to read more books recommends reading before bed. While we like to squeeze in a chapter or two before bed, we’re also big fans of reading first thing in the morning. Instead of picking up your phone or getting a jumpstart on responding to work emails, take a few minutes to catch up with your characters over coffee. It’s an energizing way to start your morning that will instantly brighten your mood and set the tone for the rest of the day.

Take an online challenge

As with New Year’s resolutions or other big lifestyle changes and goals, setting an intention publicly often helps you stick to it. Read-a-thons, book clubs, and other online book communities like Goodreads can help hold you accountable to meeting your reading goals. Once you set a reading goal with Goodreads, the site will tell you if you’re ahead, behind, or right on track to meet it. Plus, as Goodreads learns your tastes and preferences, it’ll recommend new titles based on your literary tastes.

Keep a book on you at all times

You have more downtime than you might think. Sitting in the waiting room at the dentist’s office? Pick up your book. Stuck at the DMV? Dive back into your story. Waiting for your kids to get out of school? Read, read, read. If you only reach for your book during long interrupted stretches of time, you’re missing out. When you maximize the quiet moments in your day, you’ll be surprised by how many extra pages you can squeeze in.

Read shorter books

This one sounds like a no-brainer, but it may not have occurred to you. What’s the fastest way to read more books? Read shorter books! There’s no shame in choosing concise, digestible titles. If you want to read more books, browse short story anthologies, essay collections, and poetry books. They’re also great for readers with short attention spans. Or, try alternating lengths between reads: one long book, one short book.

Have a growing TBR pile

A lengthy to-be-read pile is the mark of a voracious reader. Keeping a book (or two, or three) on deck can also help you up your reading intake. Of course, there’s no reason to speed through books just for the sake of moving onto the next one. But it’s always fun to have something to look forward to. The bigger your TBR pile, the more likely you are to make time to read so you can discover even more books.

Don’t be afraid to put down a book

While it’s admirable to want to finish every single book you pick up, it’s not necessary. Why bother finishing a book if it’s not your taste? It’s OK to be picky about how you spend your reading time. If you’re not enjoying a book, pass it to a friend and move onto the next title. When you’re passionate about what you’re reading, you’ll be much more likely to devote time to it.