How I Read 77 Books Last Year

1. I’m going to die one day and so are you.

I used to be a compulsive book-finisher and SO freaking sanctimonious about it. If anyone told me they were giving up on a book, I made sure to tell them that I basically never gave up on books. (This was obviously a very endearing quality.) I tried to finish every book I started because, even if I didn’t enjoy it, I believed I had something to learn as a writer from the experience of getting all the way through it. For instance, finding out what about the book’s structure wasn’t working, or how the pacing could have been improved. But circa 2016 or so, I changed my mind on this.

2. There are 168 hours in a week.

For most of the people who tell me they don’t have time to read, I have some sense of what their lives look like: they look fairly similar to mine. They work 35 to 65 hours each week, they commute between 15 minutes to an hour each day, and they have an active social life. Variables like kids, dependent family who live nearby, side projects, health, and what the commute looks like can of course change how much time we have for activities like reading.

3. What’s on deck?

So, my to-read stack is so high that it stresses me out to look at. Because tsundoku. But other people finish a book and then they don’t know what to read next, so they end up having months-long gaps in between books, during which time they wish they were reading more but they aren’t. If that’s you, it’s important to have a running list of books you want to dip into next.

4. The way you read is beautiful.

Things I learned this year when I started talking to friends more about my, and their, reading habits: PEOPLE HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT READING. Which makes sense. Reading is all entangled with beliefs about intelligence and knowledge, and we’re forced to read books we might not enjoy in school for a long number of years, so a lot of people associate reading with feeling terrible.

5. Reclaim your brain.

There’s a lot I could say about how to make your phone less of a distraction device, but to start: if you’re settling in to read at home, or at a cafe, or really anywhere, DO NOT keep your phone nearby and in sight. Unless you read books on your phone in which case: airplane mode. (Right after I wrote that sentence, my phone lit up with a reminder from my water-drinking digital plant app, reminding me to drink water, and then I realized I had two unread text messages, and then I lost my train of thought. So, basically, point proven.)

Libraries as beloved enablers



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