How to Read All of the Books You Want in a Month

In the past two months, I’ve drastically scaled up the number of books I read on a per month basis. On average, I take out two books a week, a far cry from a book every single day. Sometimes, it’s enjoyable and relaxing reading, sometimes it’s tiring work. The end result, though, is always worthwhile.

I’ve employed a few different strategies in these two months to churn through my booklist. I don’t have a particular order or anything, so I’m just going to list them out here:

  • Read fiction in audiobook format. My colleagues at National Journal got me started on the audiobook kick. A lot of them walk or bike to work, popping in their headphones for the commute and cranking away at one novel after another. Best part: a lot of the audiobooks are available on Overdrive (i.e., for free!), but anything else can likely be found on Audible.
  • Maintain a Goodreads list along with a queue of books at my house. What I want to read oscillates from week to week. I can’t say at the beginning of month what I’m going to want to read the next week. So, I don’t try. I throw every book I want to read into Goodreads to save it for later. And I try my hardest, through a combination of Amazon and the DC Public Library, to make sure there are four unread books at my house at all times: two nonfiction and two fiction. If you don’t have a library card yet, perhaps BooksForDC will finally persuade you by showing when a book you want on Amazon could be had for free by reserving it at the library.
  • Stop reading and watching other stuff that I don’t really care about. I don’t watch much television, online or otherwise, half because I don’t own a television and half because there’s nothing much I care to watch. I don’t think I have the attention span for long-running shows, with Game of Thrones and House of Cards being the only exception. I even dropped Breaking Bad after three seasons. I just couldn’t keep up. By avoiding most video content and doing my best to stay away from the dopamine hits of regular social media usage, I free up more time to focus on my reading.
  • Read only two books at a time, one nonfiction during the day and one fiction before bed. I don’t stick to this rhythm wholesale any more, as it doesn’t mesh well with my audiobooks. However, it seems that this rhythm may have made it easier to focus on tasks other that reading, such as social media abstinence or regular experimental code writing.
  • Move the needle a little bit every day. I have a line item in my Way of Life app that just says “Read.” Nothing more than that, just a gentle reminder to get a few pages done every day.

There’s probably a lot more I could try to get even more reading done, so if anything is working for you I want to hear about it! @josephmosby