How to Read 100 Books in a Year

In 2018 I read 25 books. 2019 I read 75. 2020, I made 100 my goal. And I achieved it. Here are some solid tips for how to make it happen.

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Create more reading time by getting up 45-60 mins earlier everyday.

If you don’t have the “time” to read more books because of kids, work, or other obligations, this tells me you need to physically CREATE more time in your schedule. You create more time by getting up earlier each morning (45-60 mins) and reading. Give yourself a buffer to make coffee as well. I discovered that with a really good book, you will find yourself increasing the amount of time you give yourself in the morning to read. This creates a compounding result throughout the year.

It’s also a simple math equation. If you read 15-20 more pages a day over 7 days, then you are going to complete, on average, 140 pages per week. That’s not even including time you read before bed or during the middle of the day. This tactic can easily add 12 books a year to your total.

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Read books you actually want to read, thus making it easier to spend longer sessions in a reading flow state.

“Life is too short to read a bad book.” – James Joyce

Don’t waste your life reading a book you hate. The advice I received, and continue to pass onto others, is this: if you aren’t hooked by page 30, dump it. 30 pages is plenty to know if the book is going to be worth finishing or not. 

When you only read what you want, and thoroughly look forward to reading each day, you will spend more time reading during each reading session. You will find yourself in a reading flow state that can make 60 mins feel like 15. Once again, time is all it takes to accomplish these goals. 

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It’s not speed-reading or skimming the intro sentence of each paragraph– it’s TIME.

Stop watching sports altogether, which frees up nights and weekends.

This is going to hurt a lot of people. But notice I am not saying to give up Netflix or TV–at least right away. Sports are where I started getting back time in my day to read more. NFL and college football on Saturday and Sunday are minimum 3-hour commitments. Add in pre-game, and it’s 4 hours. If you are a multiple sport fan, throughout the week you can easily spend 5-10 additional hours watching highlights or other sports. We can comfortably say we spend 16 hours a week watching sports, and that applies all year-round. There is only a short period of time where there aren’t multiple sports being played.

Some very rough math here: 20 pages per hour X 16 hours = 320 pages. That’s a normal book length. Boom, now we just added a book per week by cutting out sports. 

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Read 3-4 books at a time to break up the monotony of the same genre.

Have a stack of 3-4 books on your nightstand from vastly different genres. I suggest fiction, psychology, history, and personal development. If you are winding down your ability to focus on one genre, you can re-energize your mind by diving into something completely different. Having too much of one genre will burn you out more than add to your fulfillment. Also, if you are reading all fiction, I guarantee you will start to mix up storylines and characters. 

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Only acceptable nightstand

Sprinkle in shorter books (200 pages or less) to get some easy wins.

Like all long term goals, you need to get some easy wins early and often to keep the fire burning with your motivation. I blatantly admit to choosing books under 200 pages so that I could finish a book in 1-2 days and check off another tick mark towards my goal. Do not choose 900-page epics on the history of the Peloponnesian war with size 6 font and margins that are .25 inches. Do yourself some favors and sprinkle in some easy wins.

Set a reading challenge goal through Goodreads to keep track of your progress.

Goodreads | Meet your next favorite book

I am going to shill for Goodreads for a quick second. Every year since 2018, I have embraced their yearly Reading Challenge. It’s fun to keep track of your goals and to see others you are connected with setting and striving for their own. As you update your reading goals, Goodreads tells you how far behind or ahead you are. The reason I suggest using Goodreads is that you have to measure your goals or you’ll never complete it. This is a universal fact. What gets measured, gets done. 

The other reason to use Goodreads is they have a great algorithm for suggesting other books based on those you’ve read. When you find one you want to read, you can add it to your “Want to Read” queue. This, in turn, strengthens their future recommendations for you.

Even though it is owned by Amazon, I always go to Goodreads for user reviews in lieu of Amazon. The literary pretentiousness at Goodreads is much greater than Amazon, and thus they grade books more harshly. Whereas Amazon gives nearly every book a 4.5/5, Goodreads hardly rates anything higher than a 4.0/5. The standards are much higher, thus I trust the user base more on Goodreads.

Read every day no matter what.

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The key phrase here is: no matter what. At a certain point, you will feel guilty for days you don’t read. Much like those who are gym rats and have to go every day or they immolate themselves, voracious book readers develop the same habit over time. As the comedian Brian Regan said many years ago, “There has never been a good argument against reading. There has never been a point/counter-point that debated the merits of reading.”

And just to let you know…audiobooks aren’t reading ;).

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