How to Read All the Things

Last year, I read over four hundred books. This year, I’ll probably hit about 200, because it’s been a slow reading year for me, largely intentionally. Still, most Americans read…substantially less than that. The most common question I get as a reader is “how do you read that much?!?!?!”, standing there incredulous and a bit horrified. I usually downplay this or make fun of myself, but today I’m going to let you guys in on the secret things you can do to become a reader of all the things.


Step 1. Really, Really, Really Love Reading

I know this may sound obvious or ridiculous, but this is an important component. It helps if reading is a little bit like breathing to you (i.e. you do feel a bit as though you need to consume books—with your eyes and brain, not your mouth and stomach…probably— to live). Step 1 is crucial because…

Step 2. Give Up Other Hobbies

The deep dark secret of reading all the things while not being Matilda and gifted with speed reading is that you have to spend a shit ton of time reading. I read relatively quickly but most books still take me roughly an hour per hundred pages. That adds up quickly.

People tell me that they would read more but they don’t have the time to do so. I nod, because that may be for some, but in most cases it’s not so much a lack of time that could be spent reading but that they would rather spend that time doing other things. I get that, because it’s not that I don’t have time to exercise or clean my house or call maintenance people on the phone, it’s that I would rather read or watch TV. If reading is truly important to you, then look at your schedule and see if there’s any time you could give to reading instead of what you do now.

Step 3: Have a Book with You at All Times

This one has gotten so much easier with smartphones and book apps. Confession: I almost never carry a print book around with me in my purse, but, if I have unexpected down time, I’ll pick up a kindle book or something while I wait. Again, this is about utilizing the time you have. Waiting at the DMV? Or the doctor’s office? Long Starbucks line? Prime reading time. Power went out at the office? HELL YEAH PAID READING TIME. You get the idea. And hey, if a book doesn’t fit in your pocket/bag/purse, you can always get a wheelbarrow.

Step 4: Read with Your Ears

Can’t read with your eyes for some reason? Try audiobooks. Even if you have family around, use headphones. You could listen to a book while you shopped or cooked or cleaned or took a shower. Just because you don’t have time for sitting and reading, you might have tasks that are mindless enough you can listen to an audiobook while you do them.

Step 5: Read Quickly

Not gonna lie, this absolutely helps. There’s no denying the fact that some people read more swiftly than others. Your reading speed will improve, though, if you read enough. It’s like anything else: practice will increase your proficiency.

Step 6: Be Matilda

Shhh, don’t tell anyone but this is the actual answer.

Congratulations, you are now ready to read all the things. Or go eat some pizza and watch something. You do you, mate.

4 responses to “How to Read All the Things”

  1. lissa says:

    these steps sounds quite sensible to me. I think the only time I ever read fast is when a book is really, really good. some books are like that and then there are some books that force you take the time to read it.

    I am impressed that you could read 200 or even 400 books in a year, most I can do is 30 or 40. it’s too bad I don’t have matilda’s skill.

    have a lovely day.
    lissa recently posted…Book series I might or might not want to readMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      For sure, some books go really quickly, unputdownable, and others are a slog from beginning to end. What’s really fascinating is that some of the really slow books are amazing and some of the books I speed through aren’t actually that great. Obviously more of the ones I read quickly I end up loving percentage-wise, but it’s not a reliable guarantee.

      30 or 40 is still a lot! Just make sure you choose them wisely. :-p

  2. Nori says:

    I love everything about this post. And I agree with it all. You rock at reading!

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