Over this past weekend, I hosted the first Prolific read-a-thon.

If you’ve never heard of a read-a-thon, it’s when you set aside a predetermined amount of time to read as much as you can. For this Prolific event, we had three 2-hour reading sprints spread over a Sunday with a few Zoom check-ins scheduled in between.

I added this event to the Prolific calendar because I love a good reading day, and I know it can be hard to squeeze them in. 

We had 17 people attend and while everyone was reading something different — sometimes for work, sometimes for fun — we each had our own reading stack that had built up over time. (You can see my vlog of the event here.)

During one of the read-a-thon check-in sessions, someone asked me how I read so much. It’s a good question.

I have a full-time job and a thriving side business, and yet I’m able to read hundreds of pages a day. 

What’s my secret?

If you are trying to build more reading into your life, here are some of the strategies that I’m using to read more:

Read in multiple modalities. I usually read ebooks, physical books, and audio books all at the same time. Sometimes I even get the same book in multiple formats so that I can easily switch back and forth. This allows me to continue reading something if I also need to do the dishes, fold some laundry, exercise, or complete another task where I can listen to a book at the same time. (This recent video on my YouTube channel is a great example of how I listened to an audio book while organizing my kitchen and pantry.)

Speed read. Some books are worth savoring and reading slowly and mindfully. However, many of the books I read are plot-driven and fast-paced. I’ve found it helpful to listen to those books on audio at 2x speed (or quicker, depending on the clarity of the narrator) so that I can get through them in a fraction of the time. My listening speed is just a little faster than my normal reading speed for a physical book (I can get through roughly 50 pages an hour reading with my eyes and about 60 pages an hour reading with my ears), and those extra pages add up pretty quickly.

Always have something that you want to read. I follow a lot of blogs, YouTube creators, and book review websites that focus on the latest books that are coming out in the genres that I enjoy. Knowing what I want to read next, and following the publication schedules of my favorite authors, motivates me to read more. There are so many great books out there, and I want to read as many as I can!

Curate a TBR pile. Recently, I’ve been playing with creating a monthly to-be-read (TBR) list (see this video for an example). This has been a great method to help me always know what I want to read next. And, since I curated the pile of books, I know that I’m interested in reading them all. Having this predetermined TBR keeps me from doing the equivalent of browsing through Netflix for an hour rather than actually watching anything. I’ve already narrowed my list and know what to pick up next.

Utilize the library. I love the library and the best part during the pandemic is all of the digital materials, such as ebooks and audio books, that I can download right to my phone. When I learn of a new book I want to read, I check to see if it’s available right away, or put it on hold for a later date. My library app (I use Libby) tells me how long I’ll need to wait until the hold is available, which helps me to plan my monthly TBR lists since I know in advance what books I’ll have on my digital shelf.

Set a daily page goal. My current daily page goal is 150 pages (the total number of pages of the books on my January TBR pile divided by 31 days). By setting a minimum goal (and you can choose whatever is reasonable for you), I can plan better for how many books I can read each month. January has been an unusually productive reading month for me, so I’m about 1800 pages ahead of where I would be with this base page goal. That means that if I only read 150 pages a day for the rest of the month, I can squeeze in 1800 pages worth of “extra” books than the ones I had planned to read.

Choose your reading time. I end up reading at all kinds of times including before work, my lunch hour, after work, and on the weekends. I’m always looking to squeeze in a couple more pages if I can. Starting out, however, you might decide to just read for 30 minutes at a certain time of the day that works best for you. Maybe that’s listening to an audio book while working out, or reading right before falling asleep.

Read seasonally. I think that books can be an excellent way to celebrate the season that you’re in. For example, my February TBR will be focused on romance novels because of the Valentine’s Day holiday. Recently, I shared a video of my recommended books for snowy days. You can always find a book to fit any mood, season, or circumstance.

Always have a book on hand. A couple weeks ago, my partner and I went to pick up a grocery order and we ended up waiting over an hour in the parking lot since the supermarket was short staffed. No problem! I had the most recent novel that I was reading with me and I ended up finishing it while we waited. Whenever you have to wait for something, reading a book can always be an alternative to scrolling your phone or checking email.

What other strategies do you use to fit more reading into your life?