The secret of consistently reading

Bookshelves full of old books waiting to be read

Whenever I share about what I’m reading, a question inevitably comes up: How do you read as much as you do? For whatever reason, I’m seen as a bit of an anomaly in that I consume a large number of books, finishing around 8-12 a month. But what if I told you that pretty much anyone could do this if they wanted to (and I’m not saying they should)?

Believe it or not, there are ways that anyone can read more booksā€”and it doesn’t have to take a lot of effort.

Now, before I go any further: I’m not saying there’s anything particularly virtuous about reading lots of books. Reading one book a week (or one book a month) doesn’t make a person more or less godly than the individual who reads two or three a week.Ā The point isn’t to read a lot necessarily, just to read as much as you will enjoy. So how do you do it? Simple:Ā Plan.

My reading plan

Yes, I plan to read (though these days, it’s more ingrained as a habit than a laid out plan). ReadingĀ doesn’t happen by accident, especially if you’re someone who has a lot of demands on your life and schedule.

I generally aimĀ to read for 30Ā minutes to an hour of reading every day, and I’ve rarely ever read less than this (some days, it’s actually been more). What does that look like?

  1. I typically read for at least 10-15Ā minutes in the morning.
  2. Throughout the day, I probably read for anywhere between 15 minutes and half an hour. I do this when I need a break at work, or I’ve got someĀ quiet time before moving into the next activity with the kids, so it’s not typically a concentrated chunk of time.
  3. I usually read for at least another 10-15 minutes before bed. This helps me to wind down when I’m getting ready to go to sleep, so I usually don’t read things that require a lot of thinking (though sometimes I read thinky books at this time, too).

That, in a nutshell, is my basic schedule for reading on a weekday. I tend to read more on weekends because there’s a bit more free time (usually about two hours instead of one). At the pace I read (and depending on the level of attention the book requires), this means I can usually get through between 5,000 and 12,000 words in a day (on the high end, that’s around a third of a typical 200-ish page book), which is plenty for me (an average of about two books a week).

Other considerations

You need to come up with a plan that works for you. But as you do, you’ll want to consider a few other points:

  1. Choosing the right space. I can read pretty much anywhere, as long as the TV isn’t on. But if you’re prone to distraction, you might want to find somewhere very quiet and that affords a bit of privacy.
  2. Print vs digital. Some people prefer reading physical books, others digital. Me, I’m good either way depending onĀ the book. If you’re going to go digital, make sure you’ve got a good app on your phone or tablet, or consider a dedicated eReader.
  3. Do audiobooks count? Yes! They’re a great way to use commute effectively.
  4. Take only the time required to read your book. Not every book deserves the same level of attention. Some you can get all you need from with what amounts to a slightly more in-depth skim. Other books require you to read every single word. It takes time to learn the difference, but it will come.
  5. Don’t be afraid to abandon a bad book. No one will think less of you for quitting a bad book. If you’ve got limited time to read, focus on the books you enjoy, and don’t let bad ones steal your joy.

Reading is a wonderful gift from God, and because it is something to be treasured, I make it my aim to read as much as possible.Ā And my reading plan helps make that possible. While not everyone needs to read as much as I do (including me), if you want to get in the habit of reading regularly, I would encourage you to develop a plan of your own, use it, and stick with it. I think you’ll be surprised at how it changes your reading.

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books including the Big Truths Bible Storybook, Epic Devotions, Awaiting a Savior: The Gospel, the New Creation, and the End of Poverty, and Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World. His next book, published by Lexham Press, will release in Spring 2023.