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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How to Read More Books

by Seattle Jon:

After reading forty-four books in 2009, I set a goal to read at least fifty a year for the rest of my life. Except for 2011, when I only read thirty-three, I've hit that goal. This year I've made a few changes to how and when I read and I have an outside shot at seventy books. Here is what I changed this year.
  1. Read at least five books at the same time. I've been reading 2-3 books at the same time for years, but this year I've tried to keep at least five (usually more) in my rotation. I've also tried to keep a nice mix of genres – religious, sci-fi, humor, classics, financial, historical, horror, self-help – on my nightstand. This way, when I sit down to read, I am guaranteed to find a book that fits my mood. If you only read one book at a time and the book doesn't fit your mood, you either won't read or won't read for long.
  2. Keep car stocked with small books. I am in thrift stores a few times a week. Thrift stores are a great source for cheap books, especially those 99-cent one-hundred pagers. I stock up on these and keep them in the driver's side door of my car for quick reading at lights or for those times I arrive ten minutes early to pick a kid up at soccer. My current stock includes Conan by Robert Howard, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, The Mark of the Beast and Other Short Stories by Rudyard Kipling, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and Amazon Planet by Mack Reynolds. Solitaire on my iPhone has been getting less use as a result of this change.
  3. Listen to audiobooks. Last year, I listened to every episode of nine different podcasts during my commute. I lowered that to two this year (but still selectively follow the other seven). I'll get through another 10-15 books a year by adding audiobooks to my day.
  4. Utilize my local library. I don't buy audiobooks, I reserve titles I want through my local library. I also keep a long list of books I want to read, and rather than wait for them to show up at my local thrift shop I check them out at the library. Due dates are also a great way to give yourself that extra push to finish up a book.
  5. "Finish" authors or find a list to finish. We all have favorite authors – have you read every book they've written? If not, "finish" the author and figure out a way to be alerted every time they write something new. Or, get a list from someone you trust and read all the books on their list. I've been working on Eliana's list of books every Mormon should read and have finished five of the ten books she recommends with two more waiting on my nightstand.
  6. Use Goodreads. I've been tracking what I read since 1999 and it's all in Goodreads. I also use the service to identify other books I might like or to make sure I'm not missing some book from one of my favorite authors. I don't use the site's social features, but I know some people who like them. The stats button under My Books can be motivating – at least it is to me. I want this year's bars for books and pages read to be higher than last year's!
What about you – any strategies I haven't listed that help you read more books?

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Seattle Jon is a family man, little league coach, urban farmer and businessman living in Seattle. He currently gets up early with the markets to trade bonds for a living. In his spare time he enjoys movies, thrifting and is an avid reader. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and the Japan Fukuoka mission field. He has one wife, four kids and three chickens.

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