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How to read more books

If you want to read more books, you’re not alone. An American survey found that more than a third of adults report a desire to read more books. This put book reading second only to exercise as far as ‘wished for’ activities go. And in a similar study back across the Atlantic, in France 65% of people aged 15 years and over said they wished that they read more books.

However, it can sometimes be hard to motivate yourself to read more.

For many, opening a book is something that only happens when there’s nothing else going on… In other words, almost never. People in this group seem to have placed reading in the category of things that they’ll squeeze in if they can. If this sounds like you, making reading a higher priority is your best bet to revitalising the bookworm hidden inside yourself.

Think of the ‘super readers’ out there. Some people, for work or pleasure, read literally hundreds of books a year. 

Ed Needham, former editor of FHM and Rolling Stone, launched his own literary magazine back in 2018. The magazine features more than 100 reviews for each issue, and Needham reads or listens to each one. He estimates he reads the equivalent of War and Peace (1,215 pages) every week.

We’re not suggesting that you follow suit. Instead, we are just showing how much reading you could do if your livelihood depended on it. 

Needham recommends that aspirational bookworms look hard at the value they place on books to assess whether they are giving books the love and attention they deserve.

He says: “Sometimes, you just need the slightest encouragement to displace something that isn’t earning its keep in your routine.”

What about replacing another leisure activity that forms part of your routine with reading? For instance, it could be worth thinking of replacing television with reading if you think you get more out of books than you do from the majority of television programmes.

It will take a lot of effort to read more books, at least at first. For long term success, you’ll need to develop new reading habits to the point that it becomes ‘natural’ to pick up a book if you have a few spare moments.

Psychologists suggest that the best way to form new habits is to first reflect on why you want to develop them. Have a clear motivation in your head and be clear with yourself on the benefits that a good reading habit would bring.

There’s plenty of information that suggests reading both fiction and nonfiction is enormously beneficial. 

Studies suggest that fiction readers tend to be better at reading others’ emotions and have greater moral sensitivity. It has been suggested that this is because fiction readers simulate the complex lives of characters when they read them. Likewise, reading nonfiction works has been shown to increase knowledge and broaden readers’ minds.


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