I read 165 books last year. In a normal year, this would be embarrassing in the way it reveals how little of a social life I had, but it was 2020 so I guess it’s basically fine that all I did was read. Anyway, a lot of people have asked me how I read so much (I suspect that people often say this to justify a blog post they wanted to write anyway, but in this case I promise it’s really true!), so I decided to write this post in case you’d like to know as well.
1. I always have multiple books in progress at once
This way, there’s always something on hand that I feel like reading, even if I’m not in the mood for the last book I set down. Right now, for example, I’m reading the following books:
- Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour
- Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer’s Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book by Courtney Maum
- It’s Never Too Late to Bloom by Catherine Taret
- Guess Who is the Happiest Girl in Town? by Susi Wyss
- Lee Miller: A Life by Carolyn Burke
- The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector
2. I’m always reading an audiobook
The second I finish one, I borrow another from the library. I can listen while doing the dishes, walking to pick up my laundry, or enjoying a socially distanced meal or cocktail in the freezing cold. And I listen to them at 2x speed, which feels roughly as quickly as I’d read a written book.
This both adds a sort of gamification aspect for me, as Goodreads allows you to set an annual challenge, and I really like seeing where I am vs. the goal I’ve set for myself. Plus, seeing what my friends are reading motivates me to read more often so I can add their books to my currently reading pile.
4. I rarely write reviews
Honestly? I’m selfish. I leave starred ratings for most of the books I finished (unless I truly can’t land on how I felt, or suspect that a book I didn’t enjoy was technically good if not recommendable), but I rarely take the time to write out a review explaining why. The good news is that there are a lot of far more prolific readers on the site who DO leave reviews, which is often how I decide whether to read something after seeing it on my feed.
5. I haven’t had focus issues during the pandemic
I know a lot of people have suffered from a serious inability to focus during the pandemic. While I’ve dealt with this at work and elsewhere, reading is fortunately one area where my concentration hasn’t been affected. This is a real issue for many people and one I’ve been lucky to avoid. If anything, reading has been one of my few true escapes over the past year.
6. I am really fucking bored
Reading is one of the few forms of entertainment readily available to me right now, and I’ve weirdly lost interest in watching TV of late. (Except for What We Do in the Shadows, which I’m obsessed with.) When I’m bored, my first inclination is to borrow a new audiobook from the library or pick something up that I have around the house.
7. The zeitgeist
I’m motivated to know what other people are writing and how I might someday fit into the market. This makes it easier to set aside time to read new fiction in addition to whatever else is on my overstuffed bookshelf and phone.
8. Book of the Month
I swear this isn’t sponcon. Book of the Month is my favorite monthly subscription I’ve ever done–truly the only one I’ve never considered cancelling. Each month, for $15, you get to pick from five hardcover new releases across genres, some of which are on BOTM before they even hit bookstores. I like it so much I bought my mom a subscription for Christmas a couple of years ago. There are occasionally added perks like a free add-on book during your birthday month and a tote once you’ve been a member for a year. But overall it’s been a great way to keep tabs on the latest books that people are talking about. Despite the first sentence of the paragraph, if you decide to join, feel free to use my referral link.