The Forge Guide to Reading Better

How to Read More Books

You can read 100 books a year. Even if you have a life.

Jennifer Locke
Forge
Published in
4 min readJan 22, 2020

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Illustration: George(s)

LLast year I achieved a fun, nerdy goal I’ve had since 2016: reading 100 books in a year. In 2016, I maxed out at 88. My total dipped in 2017 to 72, then leaped up to 82 in 2018. In 2019, I blew past all of those numbers and read 107 books. Cracking three figures was something I’d seen others achieve, and I knew it was within my grasp, too. Finally, I reached the goal — and surpassed it. Why 100? Sure, I want the bragging rights of that impressive number. But even more significantly, if you read 100 books in a year, one or two (or 30) are bound to change your life.

I’ve always been a big reader and yet still, reaching this goal wasn’t easy. I found this back in 2016, when I first attempted this grand reading marathon without the proper prep work and totally fell short. In hindsight, it’s clear why I wasn’t able to read more. I didn’t have a good tracking system, or an idea for how to pick what the next book to read once I’d finished my current read. What’s more, I’d just given birth to twins, was home with them full time, and was overwhelmed and anxious. Yes, I had lots of unstructured time that could have gone to reading. But in practice, I didn’t have the energy to focus.

Now I’m happier, healthier, and much busier. With work I love, a fuller social calendar, and an exercise schedule I’m committed to, I should have less time to read — right?

Nope. In 2019, I read 107 books.

Having more time to read isn’t really about having more time. I use “found” pockets of time during the day to read, listen to audiobooks on the go (it counts!), put down a book if I’m not enjoying it, and cut costs by using my local library. But the most significant element, for me, is tracking when I read.

What gets measured gets improved. If you want to budget more mindfully, log into your bank account every day. If you want to lose weight, keep peeking at that scale. If you want to read more books, take stock of what you’re reading. Tracking progress increases one’s chance of achieving a goal, according to research published by the American Psychological Association (APA). Another study published by the APA finds…

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Jennifer Locke
Forge
Writer for

Jennifer Locke is an author, ghostwriter, and author coach. Visit her at jenniferlockewrites.com.