If you're like me, you've got a To Be Read pile the size of Everest... and growing. I love to read, but there aren't enough hours in the day to make a dent in my reading list. The endless TBR pile is a common book nerd problem, and one that's often seen as having no solution.
But, contrary to popular belief, there are a lot of things you can do to make some headway against your massive book list. Don't worry, you'll still have plenty of reading material left when you're done implementing these strategies. There are always new books to be read, after all.
Even if you don't have a huge TBR pile, you can still use this guide to increase your reading productivity. Making your way through books you have to read — as opposed to those you read for fun — doesn't have to be a chore. Sure, these tips might not turn all those technical manuals into fun distractions from your boring life, but they can make required reading quicker and less painful.
Here's how you do it.
Obvious tip is obvious, right? This really is the crux of getting through your TBR pile, though. Moaning that you have no time to read while you lie in bed watching Netflix isn't going to help you read the books piling up around you. I've got two simple ways for you to read more (without really trying).
Read Multiple Books at Once
Ugh! I know. You're barely making your way through one book, let alone two or three. This is really crappy advice. Why are you even listening to me?
Just hear me out. When I was at my most reading-productive, I had three books in rotation: one for reading at home and before bed, one for reading in the bathroom, and one for reading while I was out and about. My bedtime read stayed in my living room or bedroom, I left my bathroom read on the towel rack in the bathroom, and the third book stayed in my purse. Whenever I finished a book — and I always finished them at different paces — I could replace it with a new text or swap it out for one of the novels I was already reading.
What's more, because I never had to remember to take a book with me, I was never without reading material. And having multiple books to read made me less likely to get burned out or stuck in a rut. Try upping your currently reading count by one book to see how you fare. I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Learn to Speed Read
Speed reading is the Holy Grail of book nerdery. The ability to read any book, regardless of length or density, in mere minutes? Sign me up!
Like everything else, speed reading doesn't work in real life the way it does in the movies. You won't be able to flip quickly through the phone book and instantly memorize every name and number, but you will be able to consume large chunks of text in a small amount of time.
I don't often speed read, because I enjoy finding the small, meaningful nuances in a novel. Sometimes, though, even the greatest books get, well, boring. Speed reading works exceptionally well when that happens. You can turn it on, speed through the 10 or so dull pages, and get back to the action with minimal information loss. Who doesn't want to do that?
Work Books Into Your Life
In order to read more, you really have to make books a part of your life. People who don't work in bookish fields might find it more difficult to squeeze reading into their daily routines. If this sounds like you, don't worry. Here are two great and simple ways to bring more books to your life.
Listen to Audiobooks Everywhere
Most people associate audiobooks with their commutes, but I find listening in the car to be pretty impractical. Highway racket can easily drown out the reader, and your carpool buddies might not like your taste in books or listening to audiobooks in general.
I like to listen to audiobooks when I'm exercising, tidying up, and working on my blog. They're surprisingly less distracting than music, and listening to a book — especially a work of nonfiction — makes me feel more productive: I'm doing two things at once! I am the adultingest adult who ever adulted!
So, the next time you're hitting the gym or doing laundry, put in some earbuds and try listening to an audiobook. It counts as reading, after all.
Make Time to Read
A lot of people don't consider penciling in time to read, but it can make a world of difference when you're trying to cut your TBR pile down to size. Putting something, anything, on your schedule will generally make you more likely to do it, so marking out a small time-slot to curl up with a book makes sense. Just remember not to take any calls or let any distractions encroach on your reading time. Relaxing baths with a book are acceptable, though.
Keep Yourself Motivated to Read
Getting stuck in a reading rut happens to the best of us. Sometimes a book is just so damn good you can't bear to read anything else for a while. Other times, mandatory reading drowns out your desire to read for pleasure. In order to read through your TBR pile, you're going to have to keep yourself motivated to read. Luckily, I've got two strategies to help you do just that.
Find a Book Buddy
In dieting, exercising, and reading, one thing is certain: having a buddy can make or break your success. You need someone who will hold you accountable and help pull you back up when you're falling off the wagon. You and your buddy don't have to have the same taste in books, but it does help if you have similar goals. It'll be like you have your own little private book club. Speaking of which...
Join a Book Club
Book clubs get a pretty bad rap for being places where women gather to drink wine and, well, drink more wine — not that there's anything wrong with that. But being part of a real book club, where folks actually read the books each month, can be a really great way to keep your reading on track. Even if the book club's picks aren't on your TBR list, keeping yourself in the habit will help you get over the bumps and pitfalls you'll encounter when trying to read through it.
Images: Moyan Brenn/Flickr; Giphy (9)