"I simply cannot read that many books. How do you do it?" Easy.
I have been taking part in the Goodreads challenge for several years now and have always beaten my stated target. In case you are unaware, the individual sets a target number of books to read during the upcoming year. In my first year I set ten as my target and surpassed it easily. I have upped it every year since. This year's target is fifty, which I expect to reach and probably exceed.
A few friends have said that they would like to sign up to the challenge but fear failure. I assure them that they can do it if they follow these simple things.
1. Change your mindset
With any challenge, not just Goodreads, set a target that is achievable. Only three books? Fine. You can do that and will feel great when you have completed it. Reading is not a race. I know some think that they are slow readers, but the more you read the better and faster the reader you become. And anyway, who cares if you're a slow reader?
2. Read shorter books
Try to get a few novellas under your belt to start with or short stories. All the famous writers have done some, from The Signalman by Charles Dickens to The Grown-Up by Gillian Flynn. That way the pressure will be gone to tick off more books and you can settle down to read what you really want to read at your own pace.
3. Turn off the television
Relaxing time doesn't have to be flaked out, brain dead in front of the box. Read instead. It will be more rewarding.
4. Don't allow distractions
If the rest of the family insists on the television, go to another room. Make sure you do have a special reading place for such times. See how to create the perfect reading space. Also, if you read online or use an ereader don't go checking emails and messages when you should be reading. If you're the easily distracted sort, read a physical book.
5. Take your book everywhere
Those odd ten or fifteen minutes may swell to half an hour while you're waiting for your train or to see the optician. Keep your book in your bag or in the car so you have the chance to read when the opportunity arises. You know it makes sense.
6. Realise that you don't have to read anything you don't like
It's not like school. No one forces you to finish a book - you won't be tested on it. If it doesn't work for you, for whatever reason, it's fine to put it to one side and start something else. Understand that it's not a failure, it just wasn't for you at this time. Look at book reviews: no book ever had 100% 5* ratings. Everyone is different. There is no guarantee that you will love the flavour of the month just because everyone at the office does.
7. Don't set yourself up to fail
Even if you give yourself an achievable target remember that it is something only you need to know. Blabbing or boasting to everyone that you have a twenty book reading challenge will only put added pressure on you, especially when everyone and his dog asks you how many books you've read so far. Discuss your reading, of course, but your personal challenges are personal.
8. Plan your reading
There are millions of books out there and choosing what to read may leave you over faced. At the beginning of the year go on a book binge and get yourself half a dozen or so books that you quite fancy. Mix it up so there is a good choice. I always get a wad at Christmas and include a couple of classics and a couple of bestsellers. Obviously I add to the list throughout the year but there are no rules. So when you have finished one book you can jump into the next one without too much dithering.
9. Remember that all reading is good
When I talk to friends about their reading, some get embarrassed and say that they are reading something trashy. It is not an intellectual activity. All reading is good. E.L. James is a millionaire. Enough said.
10. Eventually it will be a habit
The more you do something the more the behaviour become ingrained so that it happens almost subconsciously. If you follow the these tips you will be reading more in no time. Tell me what your Goodreads target is next year.