How I Read 150 Books a Year

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One of the most commented on aspects of my blog is my reading habit. For the past five years or so, I’ve been setting a goal to read 100 books a year, and handily breaking it each year without pushing myself — usually coming in around 115 or so. (See a look at the “top” 100 I read in 2011.)

In 2012, I decided to make it a real goal, in the sense that I wanted to strive for a number that seemed a bit higher than what would happen naturally.

So I upped the ante to 150, and so far I’m on track, having finished 75 by early June. For a look at why I think I’ve been reading more this year, see this article on how my Kindle has changed my reading habits.

(Note that in 2013 I went further — and I’m now up to 200 books a year!)

In this post, I want to break down the three-step strategy I use to read so much and why I’m able to accomplish what, to many, seems nuts given our busy lives.

The How

1. I break down the big goal into baby steps.

To hit a big goal, you’ve got to baby-step it out. 150 books is just under 3 books a week, or, just under 13 books a month.

To a heavy reader like me, 3 books a week seems manageable. Especially with my Kindle and by listening to books via audiobook. Throw in a 7-book a week vacation or two, and I’ve got a good buffer.

2. I know how long my goal will take.

I know that I read about 200 words a minute, give or take. With business books this can be a bit slower given the highlighting and note-taking, and with fast-paced memoirs or the occasional novel (I don’t read many novels, but do love a good one) this is a bit quicker.

With an average book length of 50,000 words, I can read one book in a little over fours. That means, I need about 12 hours a week of reading to enjoy three books cover to cover.

3. I make the time.

Reading is my passion, and reading is my retreat, and throughout my life I have always looked (and found) time to read in my day. Honestly, I never did the math on how long it took me to read until I became curious about how many hours a week I really spent reading.

When I found out I was spending 12 hours a week reading books (1 hour and 45 minutes each day), I was surprised. It certainly doesn’t seem like that long, as I’m always saying I wish I had more (!) time to read. Moral of the story? If the time flies when you’re doing it, you’ll make the time.

Now, The Why. 

Ultimately, I can read so much because I love reading.

Love in a heart-thumping, breath-catching way.

Whatever you love doing, and whatever you would do for free, is the thing that you will find time to do for 12 hours a week. Every week.

 

What pleasurable activity could you make time for 12 hours a week that would lead to a big year end goal (or momentary fun)? Or 6? Or 3? 

 

 

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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54 thoughts on “How I Read 150 Books a Year

  1. I’m so heartened that you read 200 wpm. I don’t believe speed reading exists. And now I don’t feel poorly for reading at a normal pace.

  2. It’s good to set bold and audacoius goals. I set out this year to read 100 books. I am 59 books behind but I havent given up, even though , I seem to be working for the rest of the year. I have found goodreads.com a good tool for tracking my progress. Reading more will surely increase my knowledge, my skills and resourcefulness and I can do more book reviews on my blog from now till next year every week.

  3. What’s your feeling on reading vs. listening to books? Do you think about it differently? Does it still count as “reading”? People have a love/hate relationship with audiobooks, just curious on your feelings about them.

  4. Yes — I definitely re-read some of my favorites every year. it’s important to remember that I’m not “scanning” the books. So, although I read fast, I’m not rushing through. i.e. I can’t imagine reading “slower” to savor a book more — does that make sense?

  5. 150 books a year?! That’s really a lot.
    I love audiobooks but I can’t find those who are interesting.
    I love reading but I don’t have time. I have so much do to and I don’t find time to read books..

    anne

  6. 150 books a year?! That’s really a lot.
    I love audiobooks but I can’t find those who are interesting.
    I love reading but I don’t have time. I have so much do to and I don’t find time to read books..

    Sophie

  7. Hey thanks for the article. I have a similar goal in mind for this year. However i came across this in depth book which helps you to understand how reading works. There are people who read over a 1000 words a minute with extremely good comprehension. On an average a motivated reader can read upto 200 (about the speed you mentioned) and practiced motivated readers can go upto 400, but there are ways to increase speed without compromising grasp of the text. I could mail u a pdf copy of the book i’ve downloaded if you wish. Thanks!

    • To correct myself..I can’t be sure the claims are true. And after i posted this, the thought occurred-Isn’t part of the enjoyment of reading absorbing and savouring the language? And will trying to rush through the material diminish these values? I think i’ll first try some of the tips and see if i benefit from them before recommending them to others. Sorry. 😀

    • hello Shazad saw your comment on people that can read and comprehend 1000 words a minute. could you tell me where to buy the article on that please, sounds really interesting. I’m a student and need plenty of help with reading. or could you please send me a pdf. thanks always good to talk to another book lover. my email is bigglesyonder8@gmail.com please get in touch the names Chris

  8. Where do you find your audiobooks? Do you get them for free? I love to read, and I think audiobooks are an innovation that will allow me to maximize my reading capacity. However, I don’t know much about them or where to find them.

  9. I’m sorry if you get insulted by this, but, just to make sure I’m not affraid of showing who I am, I posted my real name. Sorry here it goes: Your routine is so stupid I can’t express it in words. People that read “by the ruler”, as we say in my country, are not actually readers. You read 150 books per year? Well, I’m pretty sure you have the all dictionary figured out by now. Talking about that, why don’t you start writing a few books? I’m pretty sure that with all that reading you can write just as well as the classics.
    Yeah, and of course, if you count audiobooks as reading, well… I’m not even going to retort something about that childish thought.
    Maybe if you stoped to think you could come to realize that many isn’t great, but reading a few good ones and actually undestand them (what it is called to be in beetween the lines) is more productive. Funny isn’t it? You read a lot, but I’m pretty sure that people who read a lot less than you would beat you in a serious argument…
    If you take all of this badly I don’t really care… If it makes you feel better, send me an e_mail with whatever raging thoughts you have, I might take the time to open it

    • Those who say less is more is like those who say beauty is what is on the inside. Only ugly people say that…lol. It sounds like you are insecure about the fact you cant read over 100 books in a year, but don’t hate those who can. If you want to read less, do so, but don’t hate those who are able and willing to read more. Your anger is probably a projection of what you are either unwilling or unable to do. Instead of slamming people who are doing it, maybe you should be humble enough to find out how. Otherwise shut it dude

  10. wow, that is awsome, im 12 and homeschooled and still cant find that mich time to read.i never watch tv unless m*a*s*h is on,and read for about 2 hours a night and 2 hours during the day,at that pace i usualy read about 20 books a year,but this has totaly motivated me.i think that in the new year i can read 100 books at least,thanks.

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  12. People are always astounded at the amount of reading I accomplish with four kids. I can’t help it. I’m like Johnny Five, I crave more input. My husband knows I want a library like Beauty has in Beauty and the Beast. I bought the Kindle, and then the Nook to help with the amount of books I pile up on my nightstand and my hubbie’s side of the bed, haha. Some books you need to hold in your hand though.

  13. 150? Wow! My goal for 2012 is 50, but, due to my Kindle, I am on pace to destroy that number. In fact, I just finished book #38 for the year. Since I am in the ministry, my summers are usually crazy busy, and my pace slows, but I should still easily roll by my goal.

  14. Really love this post Claire, you certainly have me thinking about the things I enjoy most. The things that I don’t make time for anymore but that really fulfill me. I think it’s time I get back to some of those. Thanks for the inspiration.

  15. Loved this post. Love to read but never really thought to put a number/goal to it – your blog post is an inspiration! Just curious, how’s your retention level? My husband seems to be to read so, so slowly but I have to admit, he seems to remember a lot more of the details of what he reads than I do…We also look forward to long car trips specifically for audio books. Sometimes I’ll read a book AND listen to it as they are such different ways of experiencing the story or information.

  16. I read about a third of what you do a year – and I sure do wish I could make more time to read! You’re perfectly right – if you want to make more time for reading, you will 🙂

  17. Claire, this really convicted me. I love to read and have thought about setting some similar goal, but always find some excuse not to. Thanks for a kick in the pants.
    Blessings,
    Charles

  18. When I was a teenager I would read 4-6 books per week, so it’s surely doable, especially if you love reading. Will check the book lists you have here, will surely help me get inspired to get back to good old habits.

  19. An admirable accomplishment and I’m jealous! Back in the day, before I began reading so much online, and B.C. (before children), I read that much. But now….

    I have a few questions (just so I’m not beating myself up too much for not reading as much as you do!)

    1) Who manages your home? Housework, yardwork, cooking, etc…?
    2) Do you work a 40 or 40+ hour a week job, or are you mainly financially free because of your writing and consulting work?

    If these questions are too personal, just bop me LOL!

    • Yup, I’ve got a more than full-time job! But keep in mind that for me reading 150 books a year breaks down to 12 hours a week. If a few of those hours are audio books (which I listen to while exercising, commuting, etc.) it’s a really reasonable number of hours;)

      • I find also that many people watch TV (I don’t), which is a big time suck. If you put that towards reading, you’re ahead of the game! One thing I attribute to having read a lot is that I’ve never watched TV.

  20. I wish I could devote 12 hours a week to playing video games. My wife would kill me…

    Actually, I love reading. I try to read a bit at the end of each day. I actually have 3 or 4 books on my bed stand that I am working through. Vacation time is my favorite though…I usually am able to pound through 3 or 4 books in a week while I’m sitting on the beach or in a hotel room. SO relaxing and refreshing.

    Good luck meeting your goal. Enjoy!

  21. I also love to read. My summer reading goal was 200and hours for the local reading program. I have logged 109on hours so far and I have until August to complete it. Every 10day hours gets you a raffle ticket for cool prizes. I put my tickets in all of them but the majority go into the one to win s $75to Simon mall visa card.

  22. Claire,

    It is amazing how you find time to read so many books, but isn’t it better to read few books real well than read lot of books, perhaps not so well. Do you treat all the books same? Do you re-read any books? I tend to stay with a book for a while since I always pick up new things on second and thrird passes.

    Thanks.
    -Jay

    • Yes — I definitely re-read some of my favorites every year. it’s important to remember that I’m not “scanning” the books. So, although I read fast, I’m not rushing through. i.e. I can’t imagine reading “slower” to savor a book more — does that make sense?