How Do You Read So Many Books?

My Review Stats Goodreads

My reading stats as of 11/13/2018

A friend asked that question recently over at the Bob on Books Facebook Page. Yes, I do read quite a few books, 155 so far this year. I’m far from alone. Just two examples. Teddy Roosevelt was reputed to read a book a day. Warren Buffett reads 500 pages a day (I typically read about 125). Both far exceed me. Here are a few thoughts on how that works for me:

  1. There are other things I don’t do. I don’t watch very much TV. If you cut out an hour of TV a day, you can read 60 books in a year.
  2. I try to cut out other distractions when I read, which slow me down as well as divert my attention from the text. Keeping the cell phone out of sight and hearing is key. I need to stay away from screens when I read.
  3. I try to read when I am most alert, which for me is early in the day. Sometimes, I stand when I read when I have to read closely, and might be inclined to doze off!
  4. I always have something available to read–on breaks, in airports. This is when I do some lighter reading.
  5. There is something to reading skills–reading speed, comprehension–that improve with practice. I pay attention to chapter titles, headings, first sentences in paragraphs, which tip me off to meaning.
  6. I find punctuating reading with some physical activity–say five minutes of walking–results in greater alertness.
  7. I always have books on hand to read next, the proverbial TBR (to be read) pile.
  8. I vary my reading–fiction, history, biography, sports, theology, science and more.
  9. I’ve been part of a book group, and over the years, we’ve read nearly one hundred books together.
  10. Track your progress, which is a kind of reinforcer in itself. Goodreads has a reading challenge. Be realistic and keep it fun.

The point in reading though is not how many books we read, but what happens in us as a result of what we read. Books can enlarge our world, enlarge our ideas of a life well-lived, sharpen our thinking, and feed our imagination. There are times to read quickly, times to read carefully, and times to savor the richness of wordplay in a poem or particularly well-written passage. Hopefully these ideas will help you make more space in your life for books, whatever number you read.


12 thoughts on “How Do You Read So Many Books?

  1. I am curious about one thing: do you read one book through before starting the next or do you have multiple books in progress at any given time? Right now, I have at least 10 books in some stage of being read, along with another four that are complete but are awaiting reviews to be done.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bob, I respect you and admire your passion to read many books on varied topics of interest. However, when do you have time to accomplish household chores, prepare meals, go grocery shopping? How much time do you spend on the Internet which, as you understand, can be highly distracting? Do you socialize with other people? There is only so much time in the day! At 62 years young, I am learning that the older I get, the faster time is going.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are still a number of hours in the day. Frittering time, particularly on the internet is a big no. Part of it is limiting time online to certain parts of the day, and having limits on time spent. Yes we do have a social and church life and do the thing you mention. Yes, it does seem the clocks run faster than they once did.


      • Thanks for responding, Bob. I do not understand what “frittering time” means. Is taking a half-hour nap frittering time? Is watching the PBS News Hour each evening time taken away from reading? Is spontaneity a no-no? I am a full-time caregiver to my husband who recently had his right leg amputated. These days, activities of daily living take longer to accomplish. I have read three books during the course of this year. Does it simply boil down to how you prioritize your time?

        Liked by 1 person

      • At least for me, the internet is the place I’m most in danger of frittering my time, surfing without purpose. Caregiving is demanding and self-care including naps totally make sense, as does spontaneity. The question only each of us can answer for ourselves is what is best in this season? Reading more books is not always the right answer. Sometimes, a good nap, a walk, down time with PBS are better answers. The post was simply for those who want to read more, and have unseized opportunities to do so. And three books well-enjoyed is great! All the best to you, and to your husband in his recovery.


    • I appreciate your response once again. Without sounding like I am playing “Devil’s Advocate”, sometimes you find genuine treasure by surfing the Internet without purpose. I am not a contrarian! I simply have not figured out how to be a “prolific” book reader during my first year of early retirement. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Bob!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t know Goodreads have such a nice statistics. I should visit it more often. I liked your post a lot. It’s not just a generic comment, I really did. I read a lot of books in the previous two months and now I’m intentionally slowing down. I feel like I’m missing something if I read too fast. Also, it depends on a book of course. It’s easy to finish some modern thrillers within a couple of hours. I wonder what books Roosevelt read then 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice job on so many books! I absolutely agree that we can take 30 minutes to read at night instead of watching TV, but I think the ‘How do you…” question isn’t so much about that, but more how do you read when you have other commitments? Say one works all day, maybe spends some time at the gym, then has other responsibilities like picking up the kids, whatever, that time is reduced. I think I did about 40 books in one year. This year (Please see my blog I have been reviewing each to help keep count) But I’m only up to about 15. I’ve been more focused on work this year. So I my reading for work has been more important that for pleasure, but I still make that time to read at least a chapter/night. I always bring my book with me. Maybe I stop for coffee in between clients and read a chapter. I can make the time, But remember, even us readers have other responsibilities that we must attend to during the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: 2018 Best of the Rest | Bob on Books

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