How To Actually Finish The Books You Want To Read

Chances are that you’ve said to yourself, at least once, that you need to read more. Whether you’re too busy to read a book, or you just have trouble getting attached to one, we have a few tips to help you schedule in your reading.

Title photo by Quinn Dombrowski.

The main reason it’s difficult to find time to read is because it’s one of the few times throughout the day where you can’t multitask. With something like television it’s easy to get up and walk away or pound through a few emails during commercial breaks. Reading usually requires more of your attention. Subsequently, the best way to work reading into your schedule is to find those times in the day when you can dedicate the attention needed to reading.

Schedule a Daily Reading Time

If you can, the easiest way to fit reading into your schedule is the most obvious: schedule in time to read. Of course, this is easier said than done, but it might be more possible than you think if you consider a few times of your day when you’re not doing much else. We’ve talked about the benefit of scheduling in 30 minutes a day to learn something new, and if you can fit it into your schedule, that’s all the time you need to dedicate to reading a day.

If a 30-minute block of time is out of the question, use your downtime throughout the day to read. If you get a 15-minute break at work that you usually spend leaning against the water cooler, read instead. The same goes for your lunch, the bathroom, the gym, or even during that awkward time when you’re waiting for a dinner to cook. Just make sure you always have the book you’re reading with you so you can take advantage of any free time you get throughout the day. If you prefer to read a couple of books at once, we’ve mentioned before that context is everything, so read the same book in the same location each time.

Organise or Join a Book Club with Deadlines

Book clubs might seem a little silly if your only exposure to them is Oprah, but they can be a great way to get the motivation to read. Most independent bookstores and libraries have book clubs dedicated to all types of genres and topics. The big benefit of these is that after you’re done reading you’ll be able to retain what you read a little better because you talk about it out loud with other people.

If reading with strangers isn’t your thing, gathering up a few friends and organising a book club is just as useful. The key is to set deadlines for finishing a book and then meeting to discuss it. After that, it’s up to you to get the reading done or suffer through a bunch of spoilers. Photo by Paul Lowry.

Set Up a Special Reading Area with No Distractions

You can do all the scheduling, timing and book clubs you want, but if you don’t have a comfortable place to read without distractions it’s not going to do you any good. This place is different for everyone, but the idea is pretty simple. Find a place where you can get away from your phone, your family and any other distractions, and just read. This may be something like the lunch room at work, or it might be a specific chair in your house. The point is to find a place where you’re comfortable and can read in peace without thinking about checking your email or cleaning the house.

The idea is to create a place where you can focus and enjoy what you’re doing so you can absorb what you’re reading. We’ve shown you before the benefits of thoughtful, active reading, and a good quiet place can make the difference in your enjoyment. After all, it’s probably one of the few times in your day when you don’t have to try and multitask.

Know When to Give Up On Books You Hate and Find Books You Love

Sometimes your relationship with a book isn’t working out. In that case, it’s good to know when you close it up and move along to something you’ll actually enjoy. As someone who often has to rely on a lot of “best of” lists to discover new books, I’ve tried to force myself through giant 800-page epics just because they get critical acclaim or because a friend recommended them. In those cases, I would repeatedly find excuses not to read just because I wasn’t into what I was reading. Over time, I’ve learnt to know when to back out and shelve a book for later. Reading should be a pleasurable experience, and if it’s not, find something else to read.

It’s also worth noting that finding your niche for books is probably the easiest way to make yourself take the time to read. This means something different to you than anyone else, but tracking down your favourite genres, non-fiction topics, graphic novels or general interests is a sure-fire way to make sure you actually enjoy your time reading. If you’re not sure what you like, the library is your best place to start to find the topics you’re interested in. Just don’t feel any shame if your favourite genre ends up being a line of steamy romance novels or cheesy hardboiled detective fiction. Photo by brett jordan.

Do you struggle to fit reading into your schedule? What do you do to make it happen?

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