Wednesday, March 21, 2012

5 Ways to Get a Lot of Reading Done - Even if You're Not a Fast Reader

Noting the ever-present book in my hand during a recent appointment, my hairstylist commented, "You must be a fast reader!" And I had to admit that, no, I'm really not. I think I'm about average. It's challenging for me to get my desired amount of reading done, especially after having kids. Everything is a balancing act.

That said, I managed to read 85 books last year, and I'm challenging myself to read 90 this year, so I do make reading a priority. But how does one manage to get a lot of reading done when they're not necessarily a fast reader? Here are some strategies that work for me: 

1. Read in multiple formats 
This is probably my top strategy for efficient reading-- I always have an audiobook in the car and an ebook on my phone, so I can read on my commute and at odd moments like being stuck in a waiting room, or even in a long line at a store. I especially can't stand to be without an audiobook in the car. I'm totally hooked on the format, and a drive without an audiobook just feels like a waste of time.

2. Read at meals
Within reason, obviously. If you're having dinner with other people, put the book down already! But if you're left to your own devices, I say read away. Mealtime is such a pleasant opportunity to sit down for a decent chunk of time and indulge-- in both good food and a good book. Just don't get spaghetti sauce on the pages.

3. Read books in a variety of locations
As I think I've mentioned before, I have a book on my nightstand, a book on my dining room table downstairs, and a book on my desk at work for my lunch hour. And then, of course, I always have the aforementioned audio and ebooks. Wherever I go, I always have something to read... so no excuses!

The stack of books on my nightstand right now.

4. Read on a deadline
Being a book reviewer for School Library Journal means I have reading assignments with specific deadlines. Deadlines help me structure my "to read" list and keep me focused. I know what I have to read, and when. Self-imposed deadlines like participating in reading challenges like The Story Siren's Debut Author Challenge or your library's Summer Reading Program can also work toward this strategy.

5. Read for pleasure
This one's a no-brainer-- time flies when you're having fun, right? Same with reading! Unless I'm obligated to read a book for a particular reason, I feel no qualms about setting it aside and moving on if it turns out not to be my cup of tea. It can be torturous to slog through a book you don't like, so I recommend skipping the ordeal and getting back to the fun.

On a related note, my friend Beth at A Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust blogged recently about encouraging her students to be "readers in the wild," and listed some of her own reading habits that she hopes her students will model. It's a great post-- check it out.  

What about you? Do you consider yourself to be a fast reader? What the fastest you've ever read a book? (For me, it was the last few Harry Potter books-- I did manage to read them within 24 hours of their release dates... but that was before I had kids!) What are your best strategies for reading efficiently?


  1. I guess I would consider myself a fast reader. It depends on the book actually. I zipped through Curveball by Sonnenblick and The Future of Us by Asher and Mackler last week but it took me forever to read Neversink by Wolverton. Some books just require more of my brain stamina. I am totally like you though. I read tons of books at a time and always an audiobook. Audiobooks allow me to read sooooo much more. They are awesome. I love audiobooks!

  2. Thanks for commenting! It's funny how some books can slow down even a fast reader. You're totally right- some just require more from our brains. Sometimes we have to be in the right mood for a certain type of book, too, I think! But yes, audiobooks are such a great way to get reading done. My favorite!

  3. I think so much of my reading "speed" has to do with the book. But! Like you, I definitely "speed things up" by reading constantly. I even keep books in our diaper bag! One for me and a couple for the little guy :)

    PS: Thank you for the link to your friend's blog. That post was excellent!!

  4. Great suggestions, I am going to adapt the ones I can and see if it gets me reading more books. I often feel like a slow reader.

  5. Thanks for commenting, Epiphany! I really have to use these strategies or I lag behind on my reading goals. Meanwhile, my husband can read a book in a day without even trying! Hmph...


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