Reading can be extremely rewarding, but forcing yourself to do it can make it a chore. A more sustainable solution is to enhance the reading experience, to read better — so that you remember what you read and enjoy reading more. Here's how you can make reading more fulfilling.
Take Notes On What You've Read
Sometimes you may find that you don't remember anything from the most recent dozen pages of your book. Your eyes looked at the words, but you didn't actually read them. Avoid this by writing notes in the margins and highlighting the author's key points — so you can think about them further and return to them later.
If you fear making marks in your books and magazines, just try it once with pencil. Don't underline entire sentences, just make short marks in the margins, beside the lines that meant a lot to you. Compare the experience with a book that you read but didn't write in.
Think of it more like a conversation with the book, rather than having the book lecture you. These notes mean you can easily revisit your book so you can better retain information. You can also write notes or copy passages by hand to remember them better (and organise them in a commonplace book). It's important to preserve your books for posterity, but it's more important that you actually learn from your book (unless you're a collector).
Embrace Your Obsession (and Binge Read!)
Don't force yourself to read books that you're not interested in. Your lack of interest may mean you're not quite ready for it yet — or perhaps the author just isn't a good fit for you. If you've gone through 50 pages and are struggling to stay interested, give up on it. Life is too short to read books you don't like.
On the other hand, when you have a real page-turner you don't want to put down, give in to that feeling you get. It could propel you to the finish line. After I put a book down for four or five days, I find that my curiosity with it dwindles significantly. I can live without the book. In fact, I probably wouldn't be able to recall the most recent chapter off the top of my head.
You might be the type who can regularly read a book just for an hour a day. However, if you're less consistent than that or simply have an irregular schedule, you might find books more fulfilling if you binge read them like author Ryan Holiday does.
Follow Degrees of Inspiration
If you really love a book, you may be able to find a thread of books that inspired it. The authors of nonfiction books usually mention notable figures throughout the book, or in a notes section at the end (bibliography or works cited). It might be harder to track down the books that inspired fiction authors. They will probably mention them in interviews or in the acknowledgements, so you may have to do some digging. You can also have a look at book critics' reviews to see if they made any book comparisons or mention the author's inspirations.
Once you find one source of inspiration, you can repeat the exercise and find the books that inspired that one. Even though it can be time-consuming, looking through these degrees of inspirations can also be really rewarding (and surprisingly exhilarating). You might stumble upon a random, obscure, find and really enjoy it. You might also hate it. You'll subsequently wonder what the author of the original book got from such a bizarre source of inspiration. You don't just have to trace backwards from inspiration. You can also move forward and look into books that were inspired by the book you love.
Author Robert Greene mentions in this Reddit AMA that he's stumbled across extremely unique books based on scrounging through authors' inspirations, one degree of separation at a time.
Read Two at a Time
If you quit books because you keep jumping to new ones, try reading two at once. (But no more than that!) It can be difficult to slog through one book at a time. When you read two, one book can be for personal interest (fiction, bios, poetry, etc), and the other for personal or professional development (work-related, skill development, self-help, etc). It might also be that one book is more comfortable for you, and the other takes you out of your regular reading and comfort zone. You can think of these two books as veggies and dessert.
It's likely you'll find your personal one compelling, so sometimes you can entice yourself to read professional books by saying, "I'll read 10 pages of this before starting to read that other book." Yet once you're in the groove of it, you may find that the professional book is just as interesting as the personal one, it just wasn't as initially attractive.
The idea is not to start on any new books until you complete one or quit it. So for example, if you finish your personal book way before the professional one, you can start on a new personal book. You can use this method to find out if you really dislike a book — for example, if you read through three different personal books and are still stuck on a professional book, maybe it's time to put it down and try another one.
Reading two books at a time can change the reading experience. Former public broadcaster Lisa Bu notes in this TED Talk that comparative reading, which is a common practice in the academic world, helps present a more holistic view on a subject. Even if they're random pairings, your brain will likely still find random interesting connections between the two books.
Reading isn't supposed to be a chore. You don't have to stick with every single book. Once you quit a book, you're allowed to pick it back up later. Embrace marginalia and make lots of notes. Use your momentum to binge read through books on days when you have time, energy, and curiosity. Look through author inspirations to find new books. Read two books at once to stay persistent and focused.