One of the questions I’m asked about as often as any other is how I read so many books. Do I ignore Jesus, my wife, and kids so I can read? Do I neglect my job or my health to read? No, but keep reading.
I get it. Life is full and the todo list is never ending. Kids, jobs, spouse, church, laundry, and so much more dominate our time.
In this post I’ll share a few ways I make time to read. I hope it’s helpful for you and encourages you to do more reading. No guilt trip and no comparison to me or others. This guide is a simple resource to help you find more time to read.
First, a few recent thoughts on reading.
- Life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy or benefit from. Don’t be afraid to put a book down. Part of the reason why I love getting books from the library is that it doesn’t cost me a dime if I don’t like it!
- Life is not a contest to read as many books as possible. Learn from what you’re reading or simply enjoy a good story or great writing. Don’t read to consume.
I recently heard someone share this verse in the context of books and reading. Proverbs 12:27 says, “The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.”
Since I’m not a hunter, I had to spend some time discerning this verse’s application to reading. Essentially, the writer of this Proverb says many people spend much time hunting, but then they get lazy and don’t enjoy the fruits of the hunt. The diligent, on the other hand, feed on the riches of what they hunt.
For the reader, we know we spend many hours reading a book. Most books I read take 5-10 hours to read. If I’m lazy, I don’t make the time to understand or apply what I read. It’s liking spending hours and money to kill a deer and then walking away and not enjoying venison and the fruit of the hunt. Instead, I’m increasingly trying to find ways to help me remember the main points of anything I read. Perhaps I’ll unpack this further in another post.
How to Find Time to Read More Books
Here are 10 ways I find time to read more books. I’d love for you to share in the comments below any suggestions you have. Let’s learn from each other.
1. Read in the margins.
We all have pockets of time throughout the day when we can pick up a book and read. Instead of reaching for the TV remote or your phone, reach for a book. I almost always bring a book or my Kindle with me wherever I go. I know I need to spend less time on my phone and I don’t need to increase my TV watching. But I can always benefit from a few spare minutes reading.
We all know how much time and energy social media can consume. I need to choose less time on my phone and wasting away my time on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I’m not anti-social media. I’m just against allowing them to control me and take away valuable time.
2. Read with others.
I love reading in community. My friend Zig and I will pick out a book to read and then come together to discuss it. Right now I’m reading the book Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders along with the rest of the marriage team. We typically read a few books every year with our married community group.
Reading with others helps makes a book come alive, allows you to learn from others, and provides you with accountability.
I’m thinking of starting a book club with some dads to read through the book Raising Boys Who Respect Girls by my friend Dave Willis. If you live in the Dallas area and you’re interested, shoot me an email or comment below and I’ll send you details when I get them figured out.
3. Read while working out.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean you should read a book in between burpies or while doing CrossFit. But, you can read while you work out.
Many people will listen to audiobooks while they work out. I love listening to music while I exercise but sometimes listening to a good book can help make the workout fly by.
I also bring my Kindle with me to the gym for treadmill or elliptical workouts. Granted, it’s hard to read deep books while on a workout machine, but I can plow through good fiction or sports books while getting a healthy cardio workout. Many people love working out and don’t need motivation. For me, reading a good book while I workout gives me more motivation to get to the gym.
4. Listen to books in the car.
As I mentioned above, audiobooks absolutely count in your reading. One of the challenges is keeping track of what you learn while listening to a book. It’s much easier to take notes or underline a hard copy or Kindle, but don’t be afraid to jot down in a journal or a notecard something helpful you listened to.
5. Read books you love and enjoy.
When you find a book you love, you want to read. We often hear people talk about page turners they can’t put down. Look for those books and find them. Listen to suggestions of friends or trusted websites to help you discern some great books. My friend Jennie Allen recently interviewed pastor and author David Platt on her podcast. In the episode, they talked about Platt’s new book Something Needs to Change. I grabbed the book as soon as the episode finished.
If you’re looking for some good suggestions or gift ideas, check out my post, My Favorite Books I Read in 2019.
6. Read a variety of books.
Right now in my book bag and on my Kindle app, I have a business book, a book about marriage, one on parenting, a few “Christian living” books, an historical fiction book, and a leadership book. Reading a variety books helps shake things up and keeps me motivated. I know some people like starting a book and finishing it before moving on to another one, but I like to keep things fresh with different types of books.
7. Always have a good book waiting in the wings.
I know this is so nerdy. Don’t judge me. But, I always love having a few books I plan on reading next. This motivates me to finish whatever I’m currently reading (while enjoying it along the way). I have a book problem, but in my home are a few stacks of books I’m excited to read. This keeps me reading.
8. Count the cost and say no to other things.
Sometimes people tell me they don’t have time to read but then tell me they went biking for three hours on Saturday or binge-watched three seasons of The Office over the last month. I’m not telling you to quit exercising, sleep, or The Office. But, we all have the same amount of time available to us (168 hours every week).
I like to read in bed every night. I don’t always get far since I fall asleep quickly, but a few pages here and there adds up. In the process I’m saying “no” to TV, social media, and or a little more sleep. But I find there’s less competing for my time and attention at night.
Is there something you can say “no” to in order to say “yes” to reading?
9. Set a reading goal.
One of the reasons I’ve loved using Goodreads is because it allows you to set an annual reading goal. In the beginning of the year I set a goal for the number of books I wanted to read this year. The goal is not to just consume books, but the Goodreads Reading Challenge helps spur me on to set a reading goal. Goodreads has a social component to it as well—this can be a pro and con. You get to learn book ideas from others, but like any type of social media, Goodreads can suck you into a vortex if you’re not careful.
10. Make time for the most important book.
Last on the list, but certainly not least important. Please don’t neglect reading God’s Word. If you only have a few minutes, you’ll benefit much more from reading the Bible than any other book. (See Psalm 119 among 100’s of other examples and encouragements).
How about you? How do you make time to read? Please leave a comment so we can learn from each other and I can learn from you! I have a few books to give away – I’ll do a drawing for anyone who leaves a comment.