How I Read 100 Books A Year (and How You Can, Too) + Book Recommendations
I’ve tried to read 100 books a year ever since I moved to Switzerland. And so far, it’s been successful. But how do I do it?
Let’s quickly go back to the beginning:
I’ve always been a big reader. I started reading a lot earlier than my peers, starting at the age of 4.
When I was a child, I pictured the world as a kind of library.
I always saw my dad reading and watched people on the subway or in cafes in New York with a book in their hand and I came up with the conspiracy that everyone in the world knew how to read except me. I was terrified that I’d start preschool being the only one that was illiterate, and pictured my future classmates laughing as they browsed the shelves I just knew the classroom would be covered with.
So, with determination in my soul, I went up to my dad with my older brother’s copy of Stuart Little and asked him to teach me how to read. He laughed and said he would.
I entered preschool in the opposite situation that I had imagined — I was the only one of my classmates that knew how to read, which you can imagine was a big disappointment. However, being different didn’t stop me.
I dived into the world of books and have never looked back.
I’ve always been a voracious reader but I never actually tracked my reading until 2016, when I rediscovered Goodreads. The Goodreads Reading Challenge set me on a path of reading more books, more often.
That’s how, for the past two years, I’ve read 100 books. This year is no different.
How do I do it?
Many people ask me how I manage to read 100 books a year and still juggle my day job, my bookish newsletter, and my avid social life. And to be honest, I think it’s completely manageable if you just fit reading into your routine.
Here are some of the things I do that help me read 100 books a year and how you can, too:
Learn to DNF
DNF means Did Not Finish. Yes, I’m telling you to not finish a book. I know, it seems controversial but I’m putting this first because from what I hear from others, I truly think that people not DNFing a book is one of the biggest reasons why they don’t read that much. If you don’t like a book, stop reading it. I know it’s easy to feel guilty about not finishing a book but let me give you a little tip: life is too short to continue reading bad books.
If you’re struggling with a book you don’t like, stop reading it. I’m serious. Reading a book that you hate can put you into a reading slump, which in turn makes you not want to read, which forces you to read less. Nothing bad is going to happen if you DNF books. Instead, you can give up on forcing yourself to read that story and find a book that you actually like. This’ll help you get closer to reading 100 books per year.
DNF the book and move on. You’ll read more and be happier. Trust me. PUT THE BAD BOOK DOWN.
Join the Goodreads Reading Challenge
Tracking your reading and setting a yearly reading goal can really help motivate you to read more. I like the Goodreads reading challenge because it tells you how many books you need to read to catch up if you fall behind and really gives you a sense of satisfaction once you’ve finished it. They also give you a list of stats about the books you’ve read so far and I always enjoy looking at that in December to see how many pages I’ve read, etc.
Don’t just set your goal to be 100 if you don’t actually think that’s manageable though. Instead, set a smaller goal and if you reach that, then go higher. In January, I usually set my reading goal to 50 books just to manage my expectations but I’ve already had to reset to 100 books a year because I’m already at 54 books. Setting a lower goal can really help you feel motivated to read as much as possible.
Make A TBR List
TBR means To Be Read. Every month, I write down all the books I want to read in a reading journal that I got from Owlcrate last year. Then, I look at that list whenever I am in need of something to read. I found having a set TBR can really help me get out of a reading slump and relieve the pressure of not knowing what to read.
Join a Book Club
Joining a book club is a great way to read at least one book a month, plus, it allows you to read a book with like-minded individuals and discuss it. It’ll also help you hold yourself accountable because no one likes the person who comes to the book club having not read or finished the book. And if you have anxiety like me, you’ll never want to be that person. There are also a lot of online book clubs that you can join, including mine! #Shamelessplug.
My friend Jess (who also reads 100 books a year) and I put out a biweekly newsletter/book club, wherein we read one book a month and send out reviews about it at the end of the month. If you read along with us, you’ll have a chance to send us your review to be featured in our letter. It’s called Bookmess! Subscribe here.
If you don’t want to join my newsletter, though, you can look up book clubs in your area, online, or even ask a few friends to come over once a month, drink some wine, and talk about books. It’s truly a win/win. If you do that monthly, you’ll have read 12 books in a year! One step closer to 100 books a year!
Listen to Audiobooks
First off, if you’re going to say that listening to an audiobook is not “ real reading,” stop right there. That’s an extremely ableist statement and listening to audiobooks is 100% a form of reading. Some people rely on audiobooks as their sole way to read, and some people just prefer to listen to a story. There’s nothing wrong with that. Frankly, there are some books out there that are BETTER as audiobooks.
And it’s still reading. Don’t @ me.
Plus, listening to an audiobook is a great way to fit in more reading into your schedule. You can listen while you workout, on a long commute, while you travel, or even while you work. I often listen to audiobooks on 1.5x speed in the office and it helps me SO MUCH with getting my reading done for the week.
I also listen while I cook dinner or when I’m cleaning or doing somewhere where my eyes need to be elsewhere. I listen to maybe 10-15 audiobooks per year (I am very picky about audiobook narrators) and it helps so much in getting me towards my goal. Also, sometimes when I’m in the middle of the book, I can check if Scribd has the audiobook so that I can listen to it while I’m doing something else if I can’t be reading my kindle.
Read Novellas or Short Story Anthologies
Sometimes, the best way to get you out of a reading slump is by tackling shorter books. I see so many people trying so hard to read books that are like 500+ pages, and while that’s absolutely fine, sometimes it’s good to just read something under 200 pages.
It’ll count towards your goal and you’ll still have read something that week. Short story anthologies are also great because you can read a story a day, which tricks your mind into thinking you’re reading less when actually you’re reading more. Again, I’ll pop some good novella/anthology recommendations down below.
Read on Your Commute
Being on the train is one of the biggest chunks of time that I spend consecutively reading. My commute to work every day is about 20-30 minutes depending on the day, and it really helps me get some serious reading done. Most people are on their phones or listening to music when they commute, so you can swap that out with a book or audiobook. If you drive to work or school, listen to an audiobook!
If You Can Binge Watch A Show, You Can Read A Book
Hi, yes, I’m calling you out. Yes, you.
I, too, spent the last two days binge-watching season 3 of Stranger Things. That’s literally like 9 hours of devouring content. Of course, you should still binge watch the show if you want to binge watch the show, but you can also put that same energy into reading. Once a week, instead of watching a show or a movie, just replace that time with reading.
Set a Daily Time Limit
While this isn’t something that I necessarily do, my bf Michael has adopted this and it’s greatly helped him read more yearly. Give yourself an attainable daily goal. Say you’re going to read for 10 or 20 minutes a day. 10 minutes is not a lot of time but you can at least get a chapter finished in that time and it’ll help you read more often.
Also, if you get lost in the story, you may find that you read more, which is never a bad thing.
Implementing these little things into your daily routine will help you read more books, more often. Before you know it, you’ll be reading 100 books a year. Or just 10 books a year.
Either way, you’ll be reading more and feeling happier about it. And that’s always a good thing.
Now, for some quick book recommendations to get you started:
Remember when I said some books are much better as audiobooks? THIS ONE HAS A FULL CAST. It’s amazing. Please read it.
This reads like a podcast and just like Daisy Jones, has a full cast and sound effects. It’s incredible.
Michelle Obama’s voice is calming and her words are exactly what you need in this political climate.
This story is like teenage Groundhog Day with a creepy twist and the audiobook is enchanting.
Thrilling, sad, and with a full cast and sound effects. It’s I N C R E D I B L E.
Favorite Novellas/ Anthologies:
Feminist as hell, this is the perfect short story anthology for October. My favorite stories were The Resident, The Husband Stitch, and Inventory.
There are five books in this series so far but they’re all about 100-150 pages each so they’re super quick and take you into a magical world that asks the question: what happens when children like Alice come back from Wonderland and what if there are other doors to other worlds that whisk children away? It’s perfect.
Written by Vivek Shraya, a trans, Muslim woman, this book is short but deeply powerful.
A thriller that goes down nice and easy.
We stan Gillian Flynn in this house and MY GOD this story is so good.
A poetry anthology that’s deeply personal and yet somehow resonates with every human experience. I read it in less than an hour.
A dystopian novel about a British Citizenship test, with a crazy twist.
Highly recommend the audiobook. Shirley Jackson is the mother of modern horror.
Somehow this book is both extremely insane and absolutely perfect all at once.
If you haven’t read Gone Girl yet, what the hell are you doing with your life? It’s perfect and one of the best books of all time. It also changed the landscape of thrillers and my god, go read it already.
This book scared Stephen King. And it definitely scared the hell out of me.
Tremblay’s most recent book, this one is less scary and more edge-of-your seat thrilling but it’s still very good.
One of the only books since Gone Girl to legitimately catch me off guard. It’s great.
Roxane Gay’s collection of stories about feminism and being a woman is so deeply beautiful and raw. I read it three years ago and I still think about it often.
The book that makes you remember how crazy people in this world are
One woman’s search for the Golden State Killer that, unfortunately, literally killed her. One of the best books written by a brilliant woman taken from us too soon.
Favorite Books of The Last Two Years:
If you like fantasy, political intrigue (think House of Cards with Faeries) and hate-to-love romance, you’ll love this series.
A book about a fictional Cuban-American old Hollywood star (ala Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor) that is entirely not what you’d expect and deeply heartbreaking.
This book had me laughing out loud in one chapter and literally sobbing the next. I love it so much.
Lyrical and dreamy, this is the perfect ideology to whisk you away to another world. Speaking of, the world building is incredible and every wannabe fantasy writer should take note.
A book about the end of the world but also a book about the human condition. I read it in one night and still think about it every single day.
This isn’t just a book about hockey or a hockey town, it’s a book about all of us and one I think everyone should read.
One of the best books of all time. Period. Please read it. It’ll make you cry.
Soon to be a Hulu series produced by Reese Witherspoon, this book is a gorgeous character study about the lives of small-town people, motherhood, and the ways we alienate each other. It’s perfect.