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I’ve loved reading since I was a little girl, but in the last few years I’ve become an increasingly voracious reader. I typically read 30 to 60 books a year, mostly non-fiction. Some people are flabbergasted by this, but I know people who read 100 books a year! Now…my point here is not to intimidate you or make you feel guilty. We all have different hobbies and interests, and perhaps you exercise 5 days a week or knit 30 outfits a year for needy infants…now that intimidates me!!

I should exercise more consistently than I presently do (and I’m working on that…ahem!), and maybe you should read a little more? Note: I’m not saying you should read as much as I do, but surely you could read a few more books each year. Maybe try to move from 5 books a year to 10 books? Or from 1 or 2 books to 5 books?

Reading is how we: learn new things…develop our imagination…expand our perspectives…sharpen our beliefs…develop empathy…grow our vocabulary…get glimpses into other cultures…improve our concentration.  Reading enlarges our world in so many ways!

Recently, I saw this blog post with practical tips on how to make more time for reading. The blogger is a busy mother, pulled in many directions…so if you feel “too busy” to read, she offers some practical tips for carving out time to read. Evidently she is frequently asked: “WHEN do you have time to read?!” and previous posts indicate she reads over 20 books a year.

I thought I’d complement her article by sharing some tips on how to be a better reader when you do make time to read. These are things I’ve learned in the last several years that have truly helped my reading ability:

  • I used to only read one book at a time. For some reason, I thought I should not pick up another book until I finished the one I was already reading. Yet, now I typically read several books at a time! I find this helps me get more reading in because I can pick up the book that best matches my current mood or mental acuity level. If I’m a little tired, that is not the time for the academic one!
  • I used to read all books in the same way – carefully, and trying to understand everything. But now I read different books differently! Before I start to read a book, I ask myself: Why am I reading this book? – For a class? To learn about something I just want to learn about? For pure pleasure? Etc. And the answer will determine “how” I read it. I may read one book quickly, only concerned with getting the “big picture.” Another book I may read slowly and carefully not wanting to miss any details and to apply it to my life.

** On that note, just as I was finishing up this post, an e-mail came in from a blog I subscribe to. Amanda talks about the difference between Spiritual vs. Consumerist Reading.

  • Finally, I think it is important to “familiarize” yourself with a book before starting to read it. Before I begin to read a book, I do things like: read the back cover and/or inside cover flaps, look at the table of contents, flip through the book checking out chapter lengths, charts, pictures, etc. I find I read better (and faster) when I begin already having an idea of what the book is about and what to expect regarding the book’s layout.

Like many things in life, you get better with practice. If you want to be a better reader…well, you’ve got to read! As you begin to read more, you will gradually get better at it. Do you have any reading tips to share?? I’d love to hear them.