9 Science-Backed Tips For Reading More Books This Year

by Kerri Jarema

If you love to read, chances are pretty high that you've tried to find ways to read even more than you already do. Who doesn't want to fly through their entire yearly reading challenge in just six months? But even if you've been making an effort to add more quality reading time into your day, you might still be struggling to get through your TBR stack. After all, there are only so many hours in the day and you need most of them for work, socializing and, well, sleep. So fitting in reading time can be a real struggle. But a little bit of research will prove that you've got more than just your love of books on your side — you've got science, too.

Because according to various studies, you can make just a few small, seemingly insignificant changes to your reading space and reading habits to see huge results when it comes to your creative productivity. In your case, dear reader, that means smashing your TBR to smithereens and enjoying every single moment of the reading process. Check out the nine tips below, all research-based and science-backed, below. Your unread books won't know what hit them.


Designate A Favorite Reading Space And Stick To It

Studies show that bedrooms should be tech free zones in order to facilitate a more restful night's sleep. But the theory definitely applies to creative and reading spaces, too. The theory goes that you can easily train your brain to jump right into sleeping mode, working mode, reading mode – whatever — when you have a designated space in which to do it that you can return to every single day. So if you've been reading here, there, and everywhere, it's time to tuck yourself away into a specific corner of your home and make take a few specific steps to making it the space that's most conducive to reading your bookish heart out.


Take Your Ambient Noise Machine Out Of Your Bedroom And Put It To More Productive Use

There's a reason why your local coffee shop is always full of people working away on their laptops. According to an article on 99U, a team of researchers led by Ravi Mehta at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign tested the effects of varying levels of noise on participants’ creative thinking skills. What they found was that those participants who were exposed to a moderate level of ambient noise significantly out-performed those in the other groups. So skip the hectic coffee shop and the too silent library, and put an ambient noise machine to good use in your own reading space for a nice boost in productivity.


Feel Free To Keep Some Organized Clutter Around You

If you're concerned that you won't be able to keep your reading space minimalist and totally uncluttered, research says don't worry about it. Because according to science, a little bit of clutter can actually be a good thing when it comes to getting your brain into a creative space. According to an article in Psychology Today, research shows that disordered or chaotic workspaces may actually be enhancing to your creativity. And conversely, more Zen-like, minimalist spaces may actually be undermining to more original and inventive thought. So if you want to be reading more and, in essence, have a space that is more conducive to creative thinking, feel free to keep a few teetering stacks of books around.


Add Pops Of Green To Your Space, From The Walls To A Chair

If you're not a fan of green, you might want to rethink your color preferences when it comes to getting the most out of your reading space. According to an article on Huffington Post, a study by Dr. Stephanie Lictenfeld discovered that participants who saw the color green exhibited greater creativity innovation. Lictenfeld determined that the color green might actually evoke the motivation to strive for improvement in task mastery. And your task? Reading a whole lot of books. So paint the walls green, get yourself a green reading chair, or even just buy a new pair of green pajamas that you can throw on for your comfy reading nights in. You'll be in love with the hue before you know it.


Switch Out The Harsh Overhead Lights For Some Ambient Lamps

Natural light is the best light, but for a boost in creativity ambient lighting can be just as beneficial. If you've been reading by harsh overhead lighting or bright lamplight, you might want to consider getting yourself a more ambient set-up. According to an article on Pacific Standard magazine, a German study by Anna Steidle and Lioba Werth found that dim light was actually a huge spark to creativity. Steidle and Werth found that a dark room (or in the case of reading, a dimly lit one) increased freedom, promoted creativity, and encouraged innovative thinking — all of which would be hugely helpful when you're trying to get lost in a really good book.


Speaking Of Comfort, Make Sure Your Reading Space Is As Cozy As Possible.

You might think that you need to cultivate a school-like atmposphere to be your most productive. But sitting in a hard-backed chair or wearing uncomfortable clothing is not going to help you read any more at all. According to an article on Psych Central, one of the best ways to cultivate the kind of creative and open thought you'll need to read more than ever if through simply being comfortable. Keep practical comforts like snacks and drinks nearby, cover your feet with a blanket and dive into your coziest and most well-worn clothing. If you want to spend a lot of time in your reading chair, make it the most hospitable place possible.


Make Your Space Visually Inspiring To Increase Your Mental Focus

We've all heard that vision boards and other visual manifestation tools have a valuable effect on our productivity and goal reaching. But if you haven't thought about how having a visually inspiring reading space might positively affect your reading life, you've been missing out on one of the easiest and most fun ways to increase your reading speed. According to an article in Huffington Post, visualization is actually one of the most powerful mind exercises. So take a little creative break and put together a vision board or two of your favorite books quotes, book covers, fan art of your favorite characters and even some pretty bookstagram photos. By surrounding yourself with the best of books and creating a positive, affirming visualization of the task, you'll be happier and most motivated to crack open a book than ever.


If You're Really Stuck In A Slump, It Might Be Time To Get Social

Reading can be an isolating activity by its very nature, and while alone time to focus on your favorite reads can be great some of the time, if you feel your love for reading slipping or notice that your creative mind is stuck in a slump, you might want to phone a bookish friend to get back on track. After all, there's a reason why most of work in teams when it comes to our careers. An article on 99U cites a study by Floyd Henry Allport at Harvard University which found that a group of people working individually at the same table performed better on a whole range of tasks even though they weren’t cooperating or competing. In essence, community helps us feel creative. So chat with you friend about the last great book you read, talk about what she's reading now, and reignite your love of books without even having to pick one up.


Give Yourself A Little Break Or Two For Maximum Reading Productivity

You might think that not reading (i.e. doing the exact opposite of what you want to be doing) is the opposite of productive. But it turns out that giving your brain a little break from whatever you've tasked it to do is actually a good thing when it comes to getting all of the things done. An article in the New York Times quoted Professor John P. Trougakos as saying that it is crucial to take breaks before your brain reaches the bottom of its productivity barrel. According to Trougakos, mental concentration is similar to a muscle and if it becomes too fatigued after sustained use, it will need a rest period before it can recover. Think back to all of your worst book slumps: had you been reading a ton beforehand only to find your brain needed a major book break? So put your new and improved reading space to good use — but don't forget to take some time away, too.