Leta’s How To: How To Read 100 Books in a Year

The first thing to get out of the way in this post is whether or not I’ve succeeded in doing the thing that I’m trying to teach you about.

And yes, as of writing this, I’ve read 110 books between January 1st, 2021, and December 31st, 2021. In this post, I’ll go through what I did different last year and what I believe helped me to achieve and surpass 100 books.

In January 2021, I decided to choose a monthly TBR and only read the books that I picked out during that month. That month, I was able to read nine books. I knew I wanted to beat that record, but I was also very proud of myself for getting that far. I eventually did, in May and then again in June. The 15 books I read during June remains my record for the year. So, my first tip is:

1.     Make a Plan. Whether it’s weekly, monthly, yearly, or anything in between, having some kind of structure will help you to reach your goals. For example, I have a yearly goal (for 2021, my goal is 75 books). I also have a list of books that I try to read every month that ranges from 11 to 17 books normally. I don’t finish every book on the list, but it helps to have a smaller selection to choose from.

For the last six or seven years I’ve used Goodreads to track my books. I know a lot of other websites are available now that work in a similar fashion and aren’t associated with Amazon, which you might prefer. Other options include: LibraryThing, Litsy, Libib, The Storygraph, Booksloth, and many others. These all focus on different aspects of the bookish community and how to track books. I’ve tried most of them and they just don’t work for me. But I highly suggest looking them up if you want something new and not backed by that large company mentioned above.

2.     Track Your Books. Use a website, app, or even a dedicated notebook or bullet journal to keep track of your reading habits. Experiment and find what works for you! It should be something that works for your lifestyle, reading habits, and satisfaction. Keeping track of what you read and when you finish books will help to gently challenge yourself without comparing to other readers. It also makes it easy to see where you are at in your long-term goals.

Reviews are an important motivation tool for me. I plan the books I’m going to review about a month in advance and that gives me a long deadline for books that I need to read. This can work for a lot of people, but I know not everyone wants to write about the books they read.

3.     (Optional) Use Deadlines (Reviews, etc.). If you run a blog, Bookstagram, or other platform where you share book reviews, use deadlines for getting those reviews out. This forces you to read certain books by certain dates and can help you read more books in general.

I want to add an opposing view to this list as well. The biggest reason that I was able to read 106 books in 2021 is because I was laid off in May 2020 and became someone who works at home and from home. I’m a housewife, writer, blogger, and social media coordinator. This allows for a lot more downtime to read than most jobs or school programs. While I was in school, I read very little. In 2018 I read ~24 and in 2019 I read 39. Most of those were novels for school since these two years were the last of my English and creative writing degree and they loaded our syllabi with tons of books (I also took huge course loads). I had very little time to read for myself and when I did have time, I chose to do less brain-heavy things like watch Netflix. So, my fourth point is:

4.     Go Easy on Yourself. Every person’s situation is unique and gives a different amount of free time. If you can’t read 100 books in a year, that’s okay! It’s not a requirement for anything. You can also find easier ways to reach that goal, like listening to audiobooks during a commute or discovering manga and graphic novel series. If you like poetry, there are many memoirs and fictional reads written in verse that read quicker than a novel. There are many forms of reading and there are many kinds of readers.

At the end of each month, I take time to think about what books I want to read for the next month. My finalized TBR comes from a few different sources: books I need to read to review, books I have deadlines for, books I’ve been dying to read, or books that I want to reread. A combination of some or all of these make up the final stack of books. Final point for number five: never be afraid to swap out books or decided later that you want to read different ones or none of the chosen books at all!

5.     Create a Designated TBR Stack. It’s visible and easy to see your progress throughout the month. Having a place to stack finished books can help with this too.

Do you use a planner or other kind of “to-do” organizer? This is the perfect place to book in some time to read. Based on what else you need to do during the day, you can book an amount of time to sit down and read. Maybe it works best for you over coffee in the morning or right before bedtime. Whichever way works for you, number six is…

6.     Book Time to Read. If this is possible for you, put it on your to do list. Even just 20 minutes helps you work towards your goal. Then keep the books you’re reading close in case more time pops up.

Building off of point 5, know that you can always ditch a book and come back to it later or not at all! You have no obligations to read anything. If you’re reading it for review, you can always give a reason for not reading it and everyone will understand.

7.     Be okay with moving onto a different book/not finishing a book. You can always go back and finish it later, but you don’t have to. I rarely read one book after another perfectly. I treat it like taking an exam: you leave the questions you don’t know or don’t like until later, moving on to the easier or nicer questions first.

This next point is a difficult one for lots of people. As we all know, goals made at the beginning of each year are hard to continue past a few months. If you want to reach 100 books, you need to find ways to keep reading towards the front of your mind. You also need to read your moods and know when you can get a lot of reading done and when you need some space away from it all.

8.     Don’t give up! A year is a long time to work on a single goal. Allow yourself space to read and to not read. There’s a lot of time to get to your goal without pushing too hard. At the same time, it’s important to stay as consistent as possible. This can be achieved using smaller goals and checking in with your larger goals every once in a while.

Need a person to keep you accountable? Find yourself a reading buddy! You can find them through social media like Instagram or TikTok or join a local book club. Your library might have one that runs monthly (and you can always talk to the librarians and start one yourself!).

9.     Reading buddies! I don’t have any of these, but I believe they help! Having someone to keep up with, talk to about the latest drama between your favourite character, or swap favourite books with will give you more drive to read and dive deeper.

If you aren’t a social type that can message people easily or join a book club, there are plenty of bookish people out there on many different platforms! I watch a few people on YouTube, specifically Chandler Ainsley and Brittany the Bibliophile. They document their reading, give recommendations, and give their followers lots of thoughts on many different genres of books. There are a ton of booktubers, though, so try out a few to find ones you like!

10.  Try new genres or recommendations from friends, bookstagrammers, youtubers, or others. It’s the perfect type of goal to dive into something new! I began reading thrillers this year because of a booktuber that I follow and although I’m finding they aren’t really for me, it’s been great to try a new genre and add a few different kinds of books to my overall list this year.

The final point is something that I struggle with. It’s one of my goals this year to change that. Readathons or reading challenges can be hard but come with extra excitement. Usually, others are reading it with you, and you can keep up with them through a hashtag on one or more platforms. And there are SO MANY to choose from. A quick Google search will show you tons to choose from.

11.  Look up some readathons or reading challenges. Readathons are normally for a shorter period of time like a week or two, whereas reading challenges are month or year-long time periods. They’ll give you a prompt for each week or month (or shorter in the readathons) and you can choose books that fit that prompt from your shelf, library, or favourite bookstore. They usually come with hashtags so you can share photos and join in with a community of people doing the same challenges.

There you have it, eleven tips on How to Read 100 Books in a Year. Obviously, you can use these methods to read fewer or more than 100 books as well. I hope that this helps to make reading more enjoyable or passionate for you, whatever your goal is. Thanks for reading!


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