How (and why) I read 150 books a year

Many people are looking for ways to read more books. I decided to share my approach in case it may be helpful for you or others you know. I made the goal to read 150 books a year back in 2017. Since then, I have reached or exceeded that goal each year. So, here is how and why I read 150 books a year.

WHY I READ 150 BOOKS A YEAR

I thought it would be best to share the “why” section first. There is no sense in knowing how to do something if you don’t know why you are doing it in the first place. So, here are the reasons why I read 150 books a year.

1) I enjoy reading. This is the number one reason. I can’t imagine why anyone would read 150 books a year if they didn’t enjoy it. I enjoy reading, and reading is also the primary way that I learn.

2) I enjoy reading books. This one was tougher for me. I had gotten away from reading books and was mostly reading blogs and articles online. This was a classic example of picking “easy” over “enjoyment.” Even though we might enjoy one activity over another, unless we make a conscious choice, we default to whatever is easiest rather than what we enjoy most. (Note: Click here for the “Default” principle – Choosing enjoyment over easy.) Reading blog articles is easy for me. Opening up and reading a book requires more effort. Although I enjoy reading articles online, reading books brings me greater enjoyment over time. So, I made the conscious decision to switch primarily to book reading rather than blog reading. I still read a lot of blogs. I just read a lot more books as well!

3) I value reading books. There are a lot of things I can do with my time. I have found that reading books provides the greatest return of value for my time. I enjoy the books while I am reading, plus I gain additional value after reading as well. Reading books keeps my mind sharp. I am continually exposed to new ideas. Reading books helps me with my personal and professional growth. Reading books keeps me current with the culture and conversant with the past. Reading books helps me grow in empathy and understanding. I enjoy writing, and reading books also makes me a better writer.

4) I have a lot of books that I want to read. The turning point for me came when I counted how many Kindle books I had in my Amazon account that I hadn’t read yet. There were over a thousand – and I was still buying more! These were all books that I wanted to read, but I wasn’t reading them. I needed to make an intentional shift in my priorities if I was going to read the books that I wanted to read.

5) It is an appropriate goal for me. After gauging my reading speed and the time that I have available, I decided 150 books a year was a good goal for me. It is a big enough goal to make me stretch for it each year, but not so big that it is out of my grasp. If I were a slower reader or had less time available, I would set a lower goal. If I were a faster reader or had more time available, I would set a higher goal. 150 books a year seems just right for me and my circumstances.

So, that is why I read 150 books a year. Now let me share how I go about it.

HOW I READ 150 BOOKS A YEAR

1) I set aside time for reading. I have three reading blocks each day – a half hour in the morning, an hour in the afternoon and an hour at night. I am fortunate that my job requires reading, and so my afternoon reading is a regular part of my work week. If I had a different job that did not require reading, I would either need to read during a lunch break or readjust my goals.

2) I read three books at a time. I match the type of reading with the natural rhythms of my day. (Note: Click here for the Morning, afternoon, evening rule – Finding your rhythm.) In the mornings I read inspirational, devotional or growth-oriented books. In the afternoons I read professional, academic or more study-related books. In the evenings I read fiction – mostly novels, but also poetry or sometimes memoirs. Having three books going at a time keeps my reading fresh. It also makes me less likely to miss a block of reading. I can’t just put it off until the next block, because there is a different book already waiting for me in the next block.

3) I track my progress. I think in terms of reading three books a week or twelve books a month. Depending on the lengths of the books, I sometimes read more or less, but it keeps me on track for 150 books a year. I aim to have 75 books completed by the end of June so that halfway through the year I am halfway through my goal.

4) I pick out my books for the month at the beginning of each month. This is one of the funnest parts for me. At the beginning of each month I scan my book lists and pick out the twelve books for the month that I most want to read. I pick out four inspirational or devotional books for my morning reading. I pick out four academic books for my afternoon reading. And I pick out four relaxing books for my evening reading. I am then set for my reading for that particular month. I aim at reading three books each week to make sure I stay on track. I keep a list at hand of my twelve books for the month as well as the three books I am currently reading so that my goal is always in sight. If I have several longer books on my reading list (800 pages or longer), I usually save them for December and try to get ahead on my reading to make room for them at the end of the year.

5) I maintain lists of books that I want to read. I keep a master list of all the books I want to read. I divide the list into three separate parts – morning, afternoon and evening books. That way when I sit down to pick out my twelve books for the month, it is easy to pick out my four morning books, my four afternoon books, and my four evening books. Every time I find a book that I am interested in reading, I add it to one of the three parts of my master list.

I find new books to read by reading blogs, visiting bookstores, going to the library and talking with other readers. I subscribe to Bookbub which sends me a list of discounted Kindle books each day curated to my interests. Tim Challies also maintains a list of Kindle Deals for Christians that I check each day.

6) I keep a record of the books that I have read. I keep a list of all the books I read each year. I keep them organized by which month I read them, the date I finished each book, and whether it was a morning, afternoon or evening book. I add a ‘1’ at the front for morning books, a ‘2’ for afternoon books, and a ‘3’ for evening books. I also add an asterisk for any books that I especially enjoyed. I copy all the books with asterisks to a separate list so I have a record of my favorite books for each year. Keeping a record of the books I’ve read gives me satisfaction and also motivates me to keep going, especially as I see the list growing throughout the year. (Note: Click here for My Reading List)

7) I keep notes from all my books. I do most of my reading on the Kindle. I highlight various passages as I read – either points I want to remember or sections of writing that I especially enjoyed. I also jot down notes as I go. Amazon has a Kindle Notebook feature that compiles all your notes and highlights from each book that you read. When I finish reading a book, I go to my Kindle Notebook online, and I copy and paste all my notes and highlights from that particular book into an Evernote file and also into a Word document. I use the Evernote file for searching, and the Word document for reading. Now I can easily review any book I’ve read and find all the sections that were most important to me. I can also easily copy and paste various quotes if I am using the book as a resource for teaching or writing.

That’s it! That is how and why I read 150 books a year. I hope you find some of these tips helpful, and I hope you find time to read more of the books you want to read in the coming year.

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Related post: My Reading List