Twelve Tips for Reading More.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: 12 tips for reading more.

Of my hundreds of happiness-project resolutions, one of my very favorite resolutions is to Read more.

Reading is an essential part of my work. It forms an important part to my social life. And far more important, reading is my favorite thing to do, by a long shot. I’m not a well-rounded person.

But reading takes time, and there aren’t many days when I can read as much as I’d like. Here are some strategies I use to help me get more good reading done.

1. Quit reading. I used to pride myself on finishing every book I started. No more. Life is short. There are too many wonderful books to read.

2. Read books you enjoy. When I’m reading a book I love—for example, I’m now reading A. S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book—I’m astonished by how much time I find to read during my day. Which is another reason to stop reading a book I don’t enjoy.

3. Use TiVO. It’s much more efficient to watch shows on TiVO, because you skip the commercials and control when you watch. Then you have more time to read.

4. Skim. Especially when reading newspapers and magazines, often I get as much from skimming as I do by a leisurely reading. I have to remind myself to skim, but when I do, I get through material much faster.

5. Get calm. I have a sticky note posted in our bedroom that says, “Quiet mind.” It’s sometimes hard for me to settle down with a book; I keep wanting to jump up and take care of some nagging task. But that’s no way to read. Incidentally, one of the main reasons I exercise is to help me sit still for reading and writing — if I don’t exercise, I’m too jumpy.

6. Don’t fight my inclinations. Sometimes I feel like I should be reading one book when I actually feel like reading something entirely different. Now I let myself read what I want, because otherwise I end up reading much less.

7. Always have something to read. Never go anywhere empty-handed. I almost always read actual “books,” but I carry my Kindle with me everywhere, so that I know I’ll never be caught without something to read. It’s a great comfort.

8. Maintain a big stack. I find that I read much more when I have a pile waiting for me. Right now, I have to admit, my stack is so big that it’s a bit alarming, but I’ll get it down to a more reasonable size before too long.

9. Choose my own books. Books make wonderful gifts – both to receive and to give – but I try not to let myself feel pressured to read a book just because someone has given it to me. I always give a gift book a try, but I no longer keep reading if I don’t want to.

And some tips from great writers and readers:

10. Randall Jarrell: “Read at whim! Read at whim!
11. Henry David Thoreau: “Read the best books first, otherwise you’ll find you do not have time.
12. Samuel Johnson: “What we read with inclination makes a much stronger impression. If we read without inclination, half the mind is employed in fixing the attention; so there is but one half to be employed on what we read.”

Maybe you don’t love to read, so finding more time to read isn’t a happiness challenge for you. The larger point is to make sure you’re finding time to do whatever it is that you find fun. Having fun is important to having a happy life, yet it’s all too easy for fun to get pushed aside by other priorities. I have to be careful to make time for reading, or, even though I love to read, I might neglect it.

Have you found any good strategies to find more time to read – or to do whatever it is you find fun?

* It’s Word-of-Mouth Day, when I gently encourage (or, you might think, pester) you to spread the word about the Happiness Project. You might:
— Forward the link to someone you think would be interested
— Link to a post on Twitter (follow me @gretchenrubin)
— Sign up for my free monthly newsletter (about 33,000 people get it)
Buy the book
— Join the 2010 Happiness Challenge to make 2010 a happier year
— Put a link to the blog in your Facebook status update
— Watch the one-minute book video
Thanks! I really appreciate any help. Word of mouth is the BEST.

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • This sounds pretty much like my approach. 🙂 I always have a couple books each of fiction and nonfiction on the nightstand (and now in the Kindle, since I got one for my birthday), so I can always find something I’m in the mood to read. I just can’t read two fictions at the same time, or I get the characters confused.

    Learning to let go of books that just don’t grab me was a huge leap — but how freeing it is to not feel obligated to finish. And it makes me more likely to pick up something unusual and give it a try, knowing that I’m not committed.

    (Loving your book, by the way. Finished chapter 1 last night.)

  • Wow! It’s like you pulled these thoughts right out of my own head! I am an avid reader as well and find myself putting many of these tips into play – either when I’m stressing out that I’m not reading enough, or I’m stressing out that I’m reading too much! (I can never find the perfect medium!)

  • Jan C.

    Another way to get a lot of reading done is to get audiobook versions of the books you are interested in. You can then listen in the car, while you are going about your housework, or whatever. Recently I received a Zune and am now able to download audiobooks for free from my local library’s “Ohio eBook Project.” Since Christmas, I’ve read Freakonomics, Excuses Begone (Wayne Dyer), Ask and It Is Given (Esther and Jerry Hicks), and many more inspirational books, as well as lots of fiction/romance books just for fun. I can put the Zune in my purse or pocket and listen to a book while I am grocery shopping. It’s awesome!

  • You know, tip #1 sounded so foreign to me when I first read your book. After all, I am a book critic/reviewer by trade, I must read it all, but this week I have tried my best to read the most boring book ever. Seriously, I would rather read the back of the cereal box right now than finish this book.

    I have come to the conclusion that you are right. Life is too short and there are just way too many great reads out there. This book is impossible and I can’t see anyone of my readers enjoying it. I am going to let it go.

    Thanks for permission.

  • larrycoppenrath

    I have found that in 30 years of managing, mentoring, and coaching the hardest thing to convey is the notion of “dedicating some portion of each day to reading in your field”. The lesson I try and convey is that if you read as little as 5 pages a day you can consume approximately 12 (150 page) books a year…now that is staying on top of whatever you do. Always have a book in your car, in your briefcase, or iPod; so when you get stuck somewhere and we all do, you have something productive to read. As the man said “sharpen the saw!”

  • EscapeVelocity

    I’ve lately taken to reading bedtime stories–one chapter a night of a children’s book (currently The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew). Relaxing, and the cats aren’t allowed in the bedroom so I don’t get any interference from the Feline Illiteracy Campaign, which can make it kind of tough to read in the living room.

    • Nicole Larsen

      lol @ “Feline Illiteracy Campaign!”
      I shall refer to my oppositional forces as the “Toddler Illiteracy Campain” going forward. 🙂

  • Susan

    I can’t believe how many people gasp in disbelief when I tell them that I stop reading books that just don’t interest me – as if I’ve broken some kind of code of ethics or don’t have the discipline to finish what I’ve started. I’ve always believed that there are so many great books out there, and I love to read so much, that I’m just not going to plod through something just to say that I did it.
    One thing that I do try to do is give the book a 50 page “benefit of the doubt” – I’ve found sometimes books that have turned out to be wonderful just start out a little slow. But I agree with one of the other comments – it’s easier to try something that I may not have when I know that I’ve given myself permission to let it go if I’m not into it.

  • My secret is reading on public transportation – a good book can tempt me to take the local for a little extra time with my book (and usually a seat). I also give myself the freedom to quit books, especially since, for my Subway Book Club, I choose solely based on what other riders are reading – I don’t always share their taste!

  • I posted something similar last year:

    My biggest takeaways from pushing myself to read more are similar. Never be bookless (Kindle app for iPhone is great since I always have my phone with me) and something that has made a huge difference for me: audiobooks for drive time or downtime.

    With audiobooks (even at 2x speed depending on how you’re listening to it) I find that my commute is a joy. And walking to the supermarket and shopping for 10 minutes is “reading time”. Getting dressed, making my daughter breakfast, ditto. I’m finishing an audiobook every few weeks at this point, which is adding 12-15 books to my annual tally 😉

  • Whirlgirl

    I read about your book on Shelfari. I am the moderator of the 2010 book challenge, where we set goals for ourselves on how many books we plan to read during the year and try to reach it (My goal is over 100 – I hit 90 last year). I’ve gotten some great book recommendations from the others in the group and your book was one of them.

    I truly believe that things come to you at the perfect time and I read about your book the day after I finalized my divorce. It was the perfect moment. I was so inspired that I am starting my own Happiness project and blogging about it as well as spreading the word about your book!

  • I totally agree with you on this at least 🙂

  • Jill

    I was just thinking about this the other day! I struggle with book overload. I tend to indulge in buying more books than I can read, much like some people buy more clothes than they can wear or buy more junk food than is good for them. I’ve figured out some tips that have helped in the last months. I really love the sense of accomplishment from finishing books and donating them to the library, so these might not motivate other people, but they work for me.
    If for some reason there’s a book I feel I “should’ read, but I’m dragging my feet, I try to find an audio book copy at the library. Then I donate my print copy. Everybody wins!
    I’m now picky about what books I buy, less discriminating about what I check out from the library. This way there aren’t large stacks of books in the house overwhelming me, but I don’t feel deprived.
    I try to disconnect from the Internet and computer at least an hour before I go to bed. I usually sit on the couch and read while my husband plays videogames. I read more and sleep better!
    And there’s always the bathtub if you need some more privacy!

  • Alicia

    I second the audio book suggestion! Not only do I listen in the car, shopping, and while I do things around the house, but recently started listening before I go to sleep. It is much more relaxing (and less disturbing to my husband) to lay in the dark and listen to a book than sit in bed with the lamp on and read a book.

    • Jan C.

      Alicia, I do this too! My husband is starting to tease me about always being plugged in, so maybe I’m overdoing it a bit. On the other hand, I’m reading a book a day and loving it.

  • adorita

    I find that I can’t really read books that I buy. (Sorry, have to admit that I borrowed your book from the library! ) Knowing that the books will always be there for me makes me slack off. And it creates a clutter problem – my stack is about 4′ tall right now.
    I’m much better at reading borrowed books. Library books usually due back in 3 weeks, so I have to make time to read.

  • amy

    Gretchen, I love this post! There is nothing that I love to do more than READ. And I wish I had more time to read! My ideal day is sitting on the couch (or anywhere for that matter) with a great book! Thank you for indulging me with this post.

    Congratulations on your book (which has been one of my favorite reads) jumping to #1! You are so deserving.

    I hope you have a safe trip back to the East coast!

  • These are excellent ideas. Life is too short to read boring books.

    Another way to find time to read is to choose to read books that are so captivating, they are impossible to put down. My last blog post was a review of my favorite books of all time, the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, which I found so page-turningly addictive that I neglected just about everything else for several weeks while I read straight through the first several books, and then stewed at the suspense of having to wait a long time for the next volume to be published.

    My latest blog post:

  • Thanks Gretchen. These are great suggestions. One thing that has helped me to read more in the spare moments that come up as I wait for children, my spouse, or my next flight is and its iPhone application. It permits me to create a cache of on-line articles by pressing “read later” on my toolbar. I can add in everything from a sports article in my local paper to the cover story on this month’s Vanity Fair. A very useful tool.

  • “I used to pride myself on finishing every book I started. No more. Life is short.”

    Thank. You. So. Much. I take so much garbage on Shelfari for quitting early in so many books. I detailed my reasons on my blog.

  • Randi N

    I finally quit trying to read Middlemarch and gave it away. Not having it around anymore is so freeing!

  • Number one point is the best one. Don’t feel that you HAVE to finish a book. If it is terrible get rid of it.

  • I’ve got on well with an iPhone app called BeamitDown – you can get a selection of classics individually for free, or 200 of them at once for a small fee. I’ve read Jane Eyre, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Frankenstein, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Wizard of Oz and a collection of Elizabeth Gaskell short stories already.

    I thoroughly agree with tip 1, but tip 8 doesn’t work for me – I find a big stack of to-read books makes me feel like I’m getting behind on a chore.

  • karenwalker

    Interestingly, over time I have adopted almost all of your tips for reading more. Another one I need to employ is to set aside some reading time during the day, especially if I am reading nonfiction. If I wait til bedtime (my favorite time to read) I can’t maintain the attention I want to give the book. I used to feel guilty about the huge pile of unread books I own, but it is so nice to be able to pull one from the pile when I am ready for it. One reason the pile does not diminish quickly is that I still use the library on a regular basis as well.

  • Carriekris

    As someone who needed to reconnect / rediscover the love of reading, I introduced a habit of reading (or listening to a lecture) for 30 minutes every day. Often, I got so involved in a good book that I read more frequently. I ended up reading over 40 books.

    Left on my own, my reading would be quite light. I do force myself to read some more “meaty” books – and that is more difficult. Like all habits, I need to push myself a bit to make progress.

  • “Read at Whim! Read at Whim!” is my new mantra now, I think! I’ve been trying to work more reading into my time, but I find I often think I should be doing something else ‘more important’, especially if it’s a trashy adventure novel that I want to read but feel I shouldn’t…So thanks for these, very timely.

  • denisneville

    “Books, books, books had found the secret of a garret-room
    piled high with cases in my father’s name;
    Piled high, packed large, –where, creeping in and out
    among the giant fossils of my past, like some small nimble mouse
    between the ribs of a mastodon, I nibbled here and there
    at this or that box, pulling through the gap, in heats
    of terror, haste, victorious joy, the first book first.
    And how I felt it beat under my pillow, in the morning’s dark.
    An hour before the sun would let me read!
    My books!” — Elizabeth Barrett Browning

    Reading has always been one of the joys of my life. This quotation captures this joy.

  • DavidL31

    Gretchen, thank you! I’m printing this, it will definitely help me get some happiness hacks in the fun department.

    Congrats on hitting #1 on the bestseller’s list, too! (I’ve got the audiobook version and I love it.)

  • Alicia N.

    I am a reading fanatic, so these are great tips for me, Gretchen! I’ve never thought about stopping a book half way through, though…maybe I should try that. I guess the majority of books that I have read are ones that I really wanted to read and would never have put down anyway. I have read books that are slow to start but once things start actually happening they turn out to be great stories (Michael Crichton novels are a good example I think).

    A way I get in a quick read is by bathroom reading! Any other bathroom readers out there? My husband and I both read in the bathroom (in the bath or while on the john) and have stacks of books and magazines to read on the back of the toilet seat. It may sound odd, but it’s very effective! The best things to read are books with short chapters or reference books like the Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers (trivia, facts, reference). It’s also when I take time to read my National Geographic subscription or anything with articles you can read in 10-15 minutes or less.

    Audio books are also an awesome way to “read” when you’re commuting (though I’ve never thought about listening while grocery shopping, going for a walk, etc. as some other commentors have mentioned – good idea!). When I was in college I had about a 3 hour round trip commute, so it was an extremely good way to pass the time. And for long car trips, audio books are a MUST.

    I too also have a giant stack of books to read. Some are from my husband’s collection, some I bought to complete a series but haven’t started yet, some I bought because they looked interesting but I’ve just never made time to read them. One of my new year’s resolutions and happiness goals is to read more as well, and that is definitely one resolution I am well suited to keep 🙂

  • pamwalter

    I have recently begun to practice #1. Learning that I don’t have to finish a book I don’t like has been very liberating!

  • nicole 86

    When i was young, I used to be a greedy reader : two or three books a week plus at least one solid essay. As I am getting older I enjoy reading books i’ve read a long time ago, I am no longer eager to go to the end, I just enjoy reading and tasting every word. I don’t mind if I don’t read the last bestseller i should read, i do not mind reading one book a week. I focus on reading only GREAT books, othes are not worth their price and my time.
    And now, I have time to meditate. Books can be adddictive and, now I have let go this addiction.

  • Nicole Larsen

    I schedule time to read. If I just wait for the free time to come, I won’t do it. And being honest with myself about the time I DO have, helped me to create time. By that I mean, admitting that I have more time than I thought, spent watching TV or playing on the computer. I take 1 hour every night after my son goes to bed to read. I made a nice place in my bedroom to read (reading in bed is a bad idea) and I stick to it. If I “cancel” just once, I’m more inclined to do it again.

  • LH

    another great quotation about reading:
    “…but then anyone who’s worth anything reads just what he likes, as the mood takes him, with extravagant enthusiasm.”
    from novel Jacob’s Room by Virginia Wolff

  • Patrick

    Yes, I’ve found it easier and easier to stop reading books that don’t engage me but as for reading a wonderful book, well, it’s like having a passionate affair. I sneak away from obligations, find a quiet spot, turn off the phone, and indulge. In extreme cases of book lust, I make excuses, avoid friends, cancel meetings, and tell lies. All in pursuit of a magical experience. It’s amazing!

  • I love having a huge stack of books to read. There are about 6 on my dresser at home. The one thing I need to get better at is “quitting” books I don’t like.

  • joyeschwartz

    Someone who thinks like I do!! I read 66 books last year, kept track thanks to Goodread. I love to read, essential to my life like breathing! I also only read what I want, have a whole list of want to read books, always ordering ahead to the library. Do my reading while I work-out and over the weekends for my relaxing alone time.

    • gretchenrubin

      I love Goodreads too! Should have mentioned that as well!

  • Thanks so much for the great tips. I get really frustrated when I see my favorite magazines piling up and my books left unread. I definitely agree that the Kindle put a new leash on my reading life and with this I have another tip…read and gym together… it is exercise for the mind and the body! (with the ipod playing in the background so I don’t hear the other noises).

  • Mimi

    Nancy Pearl says that you only have to read as many pages as your age. Then you can move on to another book if you don’t like the one you are reading. Once I heard this, I have continued to use this idea. I have too many other books waiting to waste time on one that is not going anywhere for me.

  • Thank you for adding that last part about “Maybe you don’t love to read… The larger point is to make sure you’re finding time to do whatever it is that you find fun.”

    I simply do not read books. Saying so will often get me puzzled stares from others in the room, as if I am perhaps part of the wrong species. I read blogs, editorials and news and get my thirst for fiction fulfilled with movies, TV and video games, so its not like I’m illiterate or shut-in. I just can’t read a book or novel no matter how I try. I’ve purchased books and even asked for them as gifts, and even these I don’t read. At best I enjoy a small collection of non-fiction science/history books, with which I can just open up at any time, digest a few facts and photos, then move along with my day.

    So, I appreciate the mention that perhaps not everyone likes to read. That anyone could follow those 12 tips and replace reading with any other activity and be successful in doing it more!

  • I enjoy reading yet find it hard to schedule time. I end up sticking to reading only things I enjoy yet – in uni I’m forced to read a lot I don’t. :p

  • larry3g

    I took an “Advanced Reading Workshop” and learned a ton of technique and gained speed and comprehension along with confidence to read more and faster.
    It’s easy to be in the reading rut.
    Seriously I went up to around 2k words per min reading.
    It’s worth a few hours of self investment.

  • Constance

    Your strategy is similar to mine, too. I read much more since I got a Kindle (my favorite invention of the past decade). I don’t leave home without it. I notice you didn’t mention joining a book club. This has helped me broaden my horizons beyond my favorites (kidlit and sci fi). But I admit that, although I always try to read the book picked by my book club, I invoke rule #1 if I don’t like it.

    PS. I’m half way through your book…..thanks for writing it. You’ve motivated me to try my own Happiness Project.

    • gretchenrubin

      Oh yes, how did I forget book clubs????? I’m in three! I love them!

      Good luck with YOUR happiness project.

  • Rob_Mk_II

    I guess I’m the only one who’s going to comment on #3–I may spend too much time with my computer lately to keep up with reading as many books as I’d like, but I don’t have a TV at all, and haven’t since 1989. That frees up even more time than TiVo….

    As for #8, I agree with the people who say that a large backlog starts to feel like a looming chore. While I do feel free to quit books, it’s a lot easier for me to quit a library book, so I’ve been keeping track of book purchases to ensure that I don’t get too far ahead and end up with a stack of things I feel like I’ve wasted money by buying.

  • iananderson

    Great post. I try to get through at least 100 books a year and can only do it by skimming over all the ‘fluff’ in the books.

    There is always a lot of stuff that you don’t need to read, try skipping straight to the contents and target the chapter that has what you are looking for.

    I wrote on my own blog that middle age is that point when you realize that you are not going to live long enough to read all the books that you want too!

    Books are great value too, one book I read recently on marketing cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in research, all available for a few pounds. Compare that to a course or seminar!!

    I also admit to being rude and read everywhere, even at the table sometimes 🙁

    Thanks again!

  • Dan A.

    I found that I can read while walking on the treadmill! This adds one whole hour to my daily reading time 3 to 5 days a week.

    Also, I remember the first time I decided not to finish a book. I could not bear to finish “No Country for Old Men”, by Cormac McCarthy. Very liberating.

    Don’t think I’ve ever not finished a beer though…

  • Alicia

    Another take on quitting books you don’t like: I keep a list of authors’ series’ that I read so I can check on when they have a new book coming out. I used to ‘force’ myself to read the next book in a series even after I’d grown tired of it, or the quality of the series was stale. I finally learned it is ok to let go of the authors and series’ that I no longer find engaging. It also frees up time to discover new authors and new genres of books rather than be bogged down by stale series’

  • This is great, and you’re really luck to have loads of time in the day to read. I work a lot on “doing less”, in order to create more time for the important stuff.

    However, even if you’re on a *really* limited time-frame, you can apply some mono-tasking techniques to make sure that you read more.

    I wrote about creating the time to read more books today.

    Have to say thanks for the inspiration – specifically, and generally!

    • gretchenrubin

      I don’t have loads of time in the day to read! That’s why I needed to
      develop these strategies!

  • scottwalkerperkins

    All except the part about Tivo. I find that my reading and writing both increased exponentially when we gave up TV altogether. We couldn’t believe how much money we were pouring into that little box every month. A portion of that savings went into books (and occasionally DVD’s) I find it far easier to read now that the chatterbox has fallen (mostly) silent.

    Great list! Great advice! I’m inspired to make my own list. Thank you.

  • Hope you don’t have to force yourself to read the gift copy of my book, Discover Hidden Secret Wisdom, that I had sent you. Laugh aloud. no pressure.

  • memcintyre

    Long-time reader, first time commenter. I’m really enjoying your book, and I’m so happy for you that it’s getting the recognition it deserves!Anyway, it’s inevitable that “listen to audiobooks” comes up (as it already has in these comments) as a way to read more books. The most prominent promoter of this tip has probably been Steve Leveen (CEO of Levenger), in his book “The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life.” Some audiobooks are abridged and, therefore, about as close to watching a film version of the book as to reading it; some are unabridged, which is probably a closer experience to reading the book itself.I suspect that the people it’s working for are auditory learners, though. I’m a visual learner, and I get almost nothing out of audiobooks unless I listen to them on a long, long drive; on shorter trips, or around the house, I tune them out and have to back them up incessantly. (Anyone reading this might guess that I am also a terrible conversationalist on the phone, that I don’t listen to podcasts, and so on.)If listening to audiobooks works for some people, that’s great. I wouldn’t want to detract from the pleasure they get. However, I hope that people who steer away from them don’t feel too bad about it, or like they’re missing a serious opportunity to read more, or etc. Listening to books isn’t for everyone.As far as what does help me read more? Some of the tips on your list, for sure, but also just scheduling time for reading. Library due dates nudge me to finish certain books first, or to give up reading books that I can’t get into. The other thing that helps is to look at the book and decide how much of it I’m going to read each day. The first time I ever did this was when I followed Mann’s “The Magic Mountain” with an online reading group, and treating the chapters like assignments definitely helped pull me through the book even at the times when it felt like a long slog. Now it’s one of my favorites.

  • rebecca

    i read on the treadmill… its the only alternative (for me) to the pool, beach, or waiting in an office…

  • melanielgarrett

    Great post, Gretchen! I LOVE the idea of the ‘Quiet Mind’ note to self. Recently I was in a bookstore and saw canvasses which had been painted black, with inspirational quotes in white lettering on them. To me, ‘Quiet Mind’ would make an ideal such canvass…but maybe in a deep soothing blue instead of black. It’s so simple, but equally just such an excellent goal, not only in terms of reading, but sleeping, thinking, writing, and generally, being happy. Quiet Mind.

  • Lori Stevenson

    a few years ago i made a new year’s resolution to read 1 book a month. while that may not sound like much, i really was hardly reading at all! sometimes i am so busy, it is hard to get even that one book in. i do not place limitations on what i read, it can be short or long, funny or serious. as long as i am reading. i am glad to say that i have been able to maintain this resolution for over two years, and sometimes i get to read several books a month, and sometimes only one. but the intention (and action) is there, and that’s what counts.

  • Thanks, Gretchen. As a reader who doesn’t read much, I have two thoughts: 1) I also have learned in recent years to stop reading something that I am not enjoying or learning from. This has saved me a lot of time and energy. 2) I also have a BIG STACK! I’m delighted to learn that this is “okay” to do. Sometimes it can be discouraging, but then again, I know I will always have something to read when I get around to it.

  • brigid

    I do enjoy reading, when it’s something good. However, I do have to admit that I feel guilty reading. I feel like I’m wasting time that I should be spending cleaning, playing with the kids or doing things around the house. If my husband is at the office and I’m sitting around reading a book during the day, I feel really badly.

  • Joanne

    Isn’t it a bit like that adage about faith: Act as if you have faith, and faith will be granted to you. Therefore, act as if you are happy, and happiness will be granted to you.

  • Raf

    I disagree about skimming, goodness is in the details.

    But I wholeheartedly agree about quitting books you don’t like! Every time I finished a book I disliked just out of stubborness (eg, The Shadow of the Wind), I regretted it. It’s very rare for a book to get better towards the end.

  • Sandie Dempsey

    Suggestion #1 could not have come at a better time. I’ve been struggling with a recommended book since Sept. I have made peace with it’s pages and donated it to a local library. Coming home to a magazine in my mail box gives me a warm happy feeling. Dinner, clean up and curling up on the coach sets the mood for my night.

  • Personally I am not so much of a reader,

    My sister however is, and because she was so excited about a few books she read, I created a special Blog about Books with the books she recommended,

    and guess what…,

    As soon as I had put those books on this new Books Blog, almost directly people bought some the books
    she selected for me!

    So now and than I put up a few other new books of her selection on it, and hope to have people writing comments about those books on my posts, sharing their stories about how they like (or dislike) the books I put on it.

    So my Tip for readers out there…,

    Feel free to have a look yourself, or share your story about a book you absolutely love, I might put it up there!

    All the Best,
    To your Happy – Books Selection – Inspiration,

  • Olivia Martin

    This may have already been said, but I find I read much more when I check books out from the library (instead of buy them). The due date motivates me. 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      Another excellent strategy! Same effect on me. Though the freedom of
      checking out books often makes me bring home unrealistic numbers.

  • Great suggestions!

  • dahlia hanna

    I love having books around just wish i could read more often .learining that i dont have to finish a book i dont like is great now i dont have to feel bad about it .

  • mwilkins

    Read every day. As a teacher I can get bogged down with preparing for class or reading essays and assignments. But if I read novels and magazines as a break or a reward then it is easier to get through the “work” of reading to the pleasure of reading

  • It’s a very useful and inspiring list. I have for long derived much pleasure from reading. But I despair that perhaps my reading is waning now because of so many factors amongst which are a depressed economy making it impossible for one to afford to buy books th bookselling outlets having as a result shut down and the libraries here in Sierra Leone not been able to help either, a prolonged blackout lasting for almost a decade thus shortening the reading day, an aging eyesight , a declining interest in reading nationally even at tertiary institutions. But reading has been my life for long. I have accumulated a huge collection of books over the years. I used to mark Christmas day for many years with a good and memorable read. For any long travel by road, air or rail I would always have a good book on the standby. A recent trip I made to the U.K. enabled me to devour much of Barack Obama’s bestselling Dreams from my Father. But now books have become a rare commodity in my part of the world forcing me to adapt. much of my reading now happens on the internet. I wondered how no one mentioned that. Or is that not a legitimate means of reading? I am still aiting to see what use I could make of a kindle if it is available locally.

    • Magrid

      I’ve been able to buy some really good books for as little as 50cents at our local used book store. Of course you may have to spend a little time going through many to find what you want. After reading them I pass them on to my daughters if they act interested in them and then donate them to the local library.

  • hyss

    Waiting and waiting …for you. I wish I could be next to you and share your happiness.

    The only truth is I miss you so much.

    • hyss

      I´ll practice meditation in the distance for you.
      Be calm! the prize rewards the effort.

      • hyss

        CONGRATULATIONS A LOT! !!!!!!!!, baby. I´ve already known you are a winner.
        I hope we can meet us this summer.



  • m65

    I’ve been able to buy some really good books for as little as 50cents at our local used book store. Of course you may have to spend a little time going through many to find what you want. After reading them I pass them on to my daughters if they act interested in them and then donate them to the local library.


  • I have a freelance job reviewing books, so I don’t always get to choose my own books or have the luxury of quitting when I’m not enjoying a particular book, but I’ve developed a system of saving the most interesting-looking books for last, so it feels like a reward. I’ve also made it a rule that, unless it’s an especially heavy review month, I read books of my own choosing at bedtime.

    Reviewing books has brought me back to what I used to love doing as a kid — read at the dining room table. I used to read a different book at breakfast and at lunch, and then a third for bedtime. Getting back to that habit makes it feel less like work, which helps me read more.

  • Thales Jacobi

    If you don’t like long books, try Herman Hesse first. I’m not a good reader but Hesse stories are so fascinating that I had to read almost all of his books.

  • Pamela

    Good suggestions, most of which I’ve done for years as I am a HUGE bookworm! I have a Kindle a friend gave me, but not as excited about it as I thought I’d be–love the feel of a book in my hand too much.
    Anyway, here are two more suggestions: 1) keep a list of the books you have read this year! I started doing that last year when my hubby read that the average Canadian reads only 12 books a year. I easily read 3 or 4 times that amount, so decided to keep track. While I’m reading a book (or books), I type the title in red, then change it to black when done, or type “didn’t finish” beside it!! (I love keeping lists, too!) I also include audio books that I listen to while taking my daily walk. That is my suggestion #2–listen to audio books when walking. You’re “reading” and getting excercise all at the same time, while enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors. Wow, a 3-in-1.

    • Pamela

      By the way, my stack turned into a 3rd bookcase of books! ~Pamela

  • Some time ago I realised that the truly spiritual (don’t like the word, but anyway) books, the ones you NEED to read, will find their way to you. The rest of the time I read what I desire.

  • oh, and also, if a book does not interest you now, leave it be. Sometimes your more ready for it later on.

  • Evalangui

    I actually listened to your book instead of reading it and it made it a especially wonderful experience because that way I could do some of the stuff you were suggesting (cleaning the closet) instead of gettin all antsy. I also find that if I’m listening to something I might not need to squeal loudly and can instead run ahead or dance (I think the world is grateful, my dance moves aren’t great but they are way less shrill than my voice XD)

  • Frances

    I find I am running out of space for books (in spite of listening nowadays to quite a few audiobooks and downloading from sites such as Gutenberg), so I’m trying to gradually weed out what I am never realistically going to read or con sult. Trouble is, I tend to read books I suspect I am not going to want to keep, purely in order to make shelf space. Well, inspired by Gretchen I now aim to read only what really takes my fancy at the time. Life is too short not to get rid of books. My tactic is ,every time I acquire a new book, to throw out or give away an equal or greater number from a pile I label “I may just possibly at some time in the future find myself in a mood or state of mind in which this book conceivably would bring me pleasure or enlightenment”.

  • Joshua

    Nice job thanks!

  • John Reid

    I think number one should be eat more and leave a book with short sections in the loo!

  • Keely Hyslop

    This might be covered under “always have something to read,” but I put a book by my bed before I go to sleep at night. Then I set the alarm a half hour early and spend the first half hour of the day reading. It’s a nice way to wake up in the morning.

  • rcrm89

    Good tips.

    I agree that books are the best gift – I wouldn’t consider giving anything else as a gift (except for maybe a Kindle!).

    Here are some of my tips for reading more: