"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

How To Read More Books

Maybe you'll relate to this scene: you're sitting around, cracking open a good book and thinking of all the incredible knowledge you will drink up. Then suddenly, it's two hours later and you're three months back in an Instagram account about cats with their mouths open (side note: it exists, and I love it) and the book is just sitting there, judging you quietly from where you put it down.

If this is you, you're (clearly) not alone! Making time to read is increasingly hard, what with your phone and the latest binge-worthy TV show just waiting to suck up all of your attention. But never fear, future book nerd — Life Kit has your back. We talked to the experts and got some really good best practices that will hopefully transform you into a regular Hermione Granger.

Lynn Neary has been covering books for NPR for over a decade and even though she could probably pave a road to the moon with the books she's read for her job, she says she's not a speed reader by any means, and doesn't judge herself for that. Here's her advice:

1. Read in the morning

"What I've found is a really good time for me is to read in the morning — particularly on weekend mornings," Neary says. "I love to lie in bed on weekend mornings and read. It's just one of my favorite things to do now, and I get a lot of reading done at that time." Doesn't that sound just lovely? Sure, it might not be right for everyone (I see you, chronic snoozers!) but waking up first thing in the morning and getting a few pages in is a good way to start your day. Plus, Neary says, it means you won't fall asleep the way you can if you try and read before bed.

Our second piece of advice comes from a man who reads 100 books a year. ONE HUNDRED! I can barely do one hundred sit ups in a year, so truly I feel like he's achieving greatness. Kevin Nguyen has been writing about books for the majority of his career and even has a piece in GQ that can give you even more advice. His advice for folks who want to read more is our second takeaway:

2. Read wherever, whenever (especially when commuting!)

As the great prophet Shakira quoth: wherever, whenever. When Nguyen walked into the studio to record our Life Kit episode, he had two paper books in his bag and three more that he was reading on his phone! He says that having books with you at all times is a great way to get in a few pages here and there. Commute times in the U.S. are also at a record high, which means that if you wanna be a bigger bookworm like Nguyen means you can spend those precious minutes reading. "The hardest part about reading a book in 2019 is just opening the book," Nguyen says. "We have in our imagination, like oh reading time is like this luxurious thing and I'm in my armchair sipping scotch. You have to make it a more regular habit than that because if you just wait for all those moments you're never gonna finish a book."

3. Tailor the book to the situation

This is another genius Kevin Nguyen tip! "We should think about it like you sit down and watch Netflix," Nguyen says. "Maybe one day you'll get to that queue of documentaries but you're probably just going to watch The Office." Nguyen says that you should apply the same thing to the books you're reading. So, just like you would choose a really peppy song for a workout, you could choose a breezy book for when you're waiting to pick up your coffee. And, conversely, when you have a little bit more time to focus, you can read something that's a little more involved. Cool, right?

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