How to read 52 books in a year

About four years ago I caught the reading bug. I had long known that reading is one of the best ways (for me) to learn, but in 2015 I really started to love reading. I began cutting some extra-curricular things out (like fantasy football) in order to make more time for reading, and the last four years looked like this:

2015: 33 books read
2016: 37 books read
2017: 40 books read
2018: 52 books read

It was 2018 where I really set my mind to the goal of reading a book a week (on average.) While that sounds like an unrealistic amount of books to read in a year, it’s really not that difficult once you commit to it. Here’s how I did it:

Commit to a goal

It might sound simple, but just having a goal (and being a person that likes to hit your goals) was the biggest factor in helping me read 52 books last year. Maybe your goal is a book a month. Great, set your sights on 12 books and go after it. The benefits of making it a public goal is up to you.

Embrace the listen

I used to think listening to books didn’t count as reading, but now I absolutely do. I don’t have time to physically read a book a week. But when you give yourself the freedom to also listen to books, it gets a lot easier. About 1/3 of the books I read are through Audible.

Great times to listen to a book:

  • While driving
  • Working out
  • Doing a mundane chore (like unloading the dishwasher)
  • Getting ready in the morning

Give it a try, you might be surprised how easy it is. I also try to listen to books where the author reads it, which leads me to listen to more autobiographies than anything else.

Follow the trail

One of the keys to reading a lot of books is to allow yourself to follow a theme that you end up being interested in.

For instance, I watched a segment on YouTube about Anthony Bourdain after he passed. I had never really thought much about him, but after seeing him interview President Obama on his TV show, I decided to try his book, Kitchen Confidential. I listened to it (because he reads it), and LOVED it. Now I’m reading his second book, Medium Raw, and likely will seek out another chef autobiography as that world fascinates me.

Read several books at once

If you look at the list of books I’m reading, you’ll see I am usually juggling a half dozen at a time. The reason is simple, sometimes you’re in the mood for some fiction, and sometimes you’re in the mood for some learnin’. Likewise, you might find that this afternoon you’d rather hold a physical book in your hand, but tomorrow morning you want to listen to a book while jogging.

And while you’re juggling multiple books…

Be quick to move on

I used to think once you start a book, you have to finish it before you can start the next one. I now follow a 25% rule. If I’ve made it through 25% of a book and I’m still not interested, I call it a win and move on. If I had to guess, at least five of the books I read last year were in this camp.

Give up other habits

This is a tough one, but necessary if you really want to read a book a week. In 2018 I watched less TV then I probably ever have in my life (or maybe since I was 5-years old.) If you really want to push yourself to read more, unfortunately something else has to give.

Case in point, this year my goal is to read 53 books, but I’ve also decided to stay up later and watch TV with my wife because we weren’t getting enough time together in 2018. Just that change in my schedule has put me WAY off pace for the year. I’ve only completed 6 books and it’s the middle of March!

Hope that helps, and please share your progress if you decide to commit to a big number of books this year!

By the way, if you’re interested, check out the best books I read in 2018.