Gretchen Rubin

Frequently Asked Question: How Do I Read So Much?

Frequently Asked Question: How Do I Read So Much?

I have a new habit that I truly love: every Sunday night, I post a photo on my Facebook Page of all the books I've read that week. Doing this gives me enormous satisfaction.

Because of my also-fairly-new habit of quitting any book I don't enjoy, if you see a book in the photo, it means that I enjoyed it enough to finish it.  No matter when I started a book, I post its picture for the week that I finished it.

Some weeks I read very little; some weeks, I read a lot. I often read several books at one time (a habit I picked up from my husband).

On weeks when I've read a lot, people often ask, "How do you read so much?" Some people have even accused me of...not telling the truth. Which I find hilarious, I must say. If you look at the books pictured, you can just tell that I'm telling the truth.

But here's the thing: I have no idea when or how I read.

I feel like I have no time to read. In fact, when I was working on Better Than Before, I tried to keep a time log to track when I read. And somehow, I could never manage to pull that off.

I did come up with all sorts of habits to help me read more. I stopped finishing books I don't like, as mentioned; I do "Study Reading" every weekend; I put reading time on my schedule.

But still, I feel like I'm never reading.

I do know that I get more reading done when I'm traveling.

And I read more when I'm going through one of my periodic obsessions -- such as my recent obsession with May Sarton's journals, or memoirs of people about their dogs, or the novels of Sharon Shinn (still working on that one).

And my reading is also influenced by my writing. I read a lot more when I'm in the research phase for a book; on the other hand, when I'm doing heavy writing or editing, I tend to read less, or to read less challenging books.

I'm not trained as a speed reader, but I must read fairly fast.

I check out books from the library, and I think that helps me keep up my pace; I feel like I have to keep pushing ahead, or they'll become overdue.

Unlike many people, I almost never read much before I turn out the light. By the time I'm in bed, I'm ready to go to sleep. However, I love to read in bed at any other time of day.

I keep lists of books that I want to read, so I often have an almost panicky sense of wanting to read more, more, more.

For me, reading a book often counts as a "billable hour" --when  it's a book that supports my writing or thinking, it doesn't count as pure leisure. It's easier to justify reading during the work day when that's true.

So I don't have a very satisfying answer to the question. I'm unsatisfied by my answer to that question. When the heck do I read? I feel like I never read, and yet I see that yes, books do get read. It's a real mystery to me.

What are your secrets and tricks for getting more reading done? I'd love to know. And if you want to read more about reading more, here are 13 tips for getting more reading done. You may also enjoy Daniel Pennac's 10 inalienable rights of the reader.

 

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