1. Define Your Purpose for Reading
Before you start reading, ask yourself why are you reading this book. Most people read for two main reasons – pleasure or knowledge.
Being specific and clear about your reading purpose not only helps you to eliminate books that you don’t need to read. It also reminds you why reading the book is important to you as you are reading it. This motivates you to keep reading and complete the book faster.
2. Read Only What You Are Attracted to
Whether you are reading fiction or nonfiction, it’s important to enjoy what you read. Your friends may recommend books that they love, but those books might not necessarily be the ones you enjoy.
Don’t read for the sake of reading. Reading shouldn’t be another task in your to-do-list to be checked off. Reading books that you think you “should” read or which you think are good for you will slow down your reading process if you have no interest in it.
Instead, find books that spark your interest and curiosity. You’ll find yourself reading these books faster.
3. Feel Free to Skip Pages
When it comes to reading for personal pleasure and knowledge, you set your own rules. Don’t feel guilty about skipping pages. You don’t need to read all the pages in a book. It’s not cheating!
In fact, skipping pages is more productive. It helps you move through boring or irrelevant parts quicker. You don’t waste time reading something that doesn’t serve you.
4. Give up Books That You Don’t Enjoy
You may have selected books that are aligned with your purpose. You may have selected books that you are attracted to. But as you are reading them, there may still be some books that you won’t enjoy reading.
Whenever you realize that you aren’t enjoying the book you are reading, give it up. Remember reading shouldn’t be a chore.
Giving up doesn’t mean that you are a quitter. Giving up books that you don’t enjoy reading actually frees up your time for books that you would enjoy.
5. Set a Reading Goal
Having a reading goal helps you figure out how much reading you need to do in a week or even a day.
For example, this year, my reading goal is to read 100 books. Since there are 52 weeks a year, each week I need to read at least 2 books. Having a reading goal allows me to strategize how much time I need to allocate each day for reading and it helps me to decide what information I need from each book.
Instead of dabbling in reading and hoping to find something useful to you, come prepared with a set of reading objectives. This helps you focus on specific parts of the book and find information that is useful to you when reading.
6. Give Yourself a Deadline to Complete Each Book
Before you read each book, ask yourself when you need to complete this book by.
What I find interesting is that I tend to read books that I borrow from libraries faster than the books I bought. The reason is the books I bought don’t have a due date! I don’t need to return those books. So I can take as long as I want to read those books.
When you don’t set a deadline to complete your book. There isn’t a sense of urgency. And when something isn’t urgent, you tend to procrastinate and your books get left on the shelves untouched and unread. So setting a deadline is important.
7. Make Reading a Part of Your Daily Routine
If reading is important to you, no matter how busy you are, you will find and schedule time to read.
Making reading a part of your daily routine removes the hassle of finding time each day to read. Allocating a fixed time to read each day reduces procrastination. It’s also easier for others to know your reading schedule and not to disturb you when you are reading.
8. Prepare Your Reading List in Advance
To keep your reading momentum, always have the next book ready. Don’t wait untill you have completed all your books, then find the next book to read. You’ll waste unnecessary time trying to find the next book.
Instead, prepare a reading list in advance. List all the books you want to read. Add books that are recommended by your friends and family. Go to your local bookstores and see what intrigues you. You can also find a list of recommended books suggested by bloggers on their websites.
9. Use Your Free Time
Reading in the morning before you start your work or reading at night when you are winding down are the best times to read. At these time, you won’t get caught up in the daily distractions that interrupt your reading.
However, if you want to maximize your reading time, try carrying a book with you wherever you go. There will be times during the day when you are free or waiting in queue. Use this time to catch up on your reading.
10. Find a Quiet Place
Reading requires focus and concentration. If possible, find a quiet place to read.
Reading in a quiet environment increases your comprehension. You don’t get disrupted by external noises. You don’t have to reread previous pages and paragraphs to recall what you have just read.
So choose a good environment in which to read. Switch off your phone or put it away. Close your door if necessary. You read more in one hour of focused reading than in three hours of interrupted reading.
11. Get Some Context First, If Possible
Sometimes, if you watch the trailer, read the synopsis or follow some of the online content that the author has been providing, you are able to get into the author’s world much faster.
You won’t have to spend as much time establishing the context or understanding the characters in the beginning.
12. Read for Meaning, Not Words
Have you experienced times when you are just reading words, but not comprehending anything that the book says?
Reading a book word by word isn’t an effective way to read. Some words such as “a”, “an” and “the” don’t add any meaning to what you read. Your brain is smarter than you think it is. With just a few important words, your brain can devise meanings and comprehend what the author is saying by tapping on your prior knowledge and experience.
Furthermore, reading word by word is boring unless you are reading to appreciate the author’s use of language. Instead, allow your eyes to scan the page and pick up words that help you form meanings.
13. Read in Layers
Reading in layers is especially useful for nonfiction readers. Instead of reading your book once through in detail, read your book with multiple passes.
So for example, your first pass could be just browsing the book, reading the content page and some of the headers to get the overall big picture first. Then your second pass could be selecting specific sections of the book you need more detail in and zooming in on them.
Before you start each pass, decide if you need more detail. Sometimes, you are able to comprehend the information without needing to read the examples. Other times, some information might not apply to you now. So you don’t need to read everything in detail.
14. Keep an Open Mind While Reading
Don’t critique the author while you are reading the book. Arguing with the author as you read lowers your comprehension. You can always disagree with the author after you have completed the book.
Also, spotting grammar and spelling mistakes while you read slows down your reading process. Although constant bad grammar could affect your reading, small grammar and spelling mistakes hardly affect your comprehension at all.
Again, ask yourself what the purpose of reading this book is. Are you reading for pleasure and knowledge or are you reading to proofread or critique the book?
15. Read Several Books At a Time
This sounds counterproductive. But it works well if you are doing research or want to accumulate knowledge on a topic fast.