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How to Read More Books (Even with ADHD)

For people who love books and wish they read more, or for those who don’t read but always wish they did, two questions are often asked: “How do I read more books?” and “How do I read faster?”

We will answer both of these questions, and also address a common issue: ADHD. Speaking personally, I am a book critic with ADHD whose job is to read and review books. In order to tame my ADHD and read around fifteen books per month, I’ve developed a few strategies which I will also pass on to you.

A shelf of books

Before we get to that, however, there is one thing I’d like to make crystal clear: It is okay to not read quickly. If you are a particularly slow reader, there is no sin in that, and you don’t have to stress yourself by speeding up your reading (especially if you happen to have ADHD).

The same goes for how many books you read. What’s far more important is the quality of your reading, as well as the purpose of your reading. Quality over quantity really does apply here!

For example, if you have a friend who reads ten books a month and they’re all smutty romance books, but you managed to read one great literary novel that will stick with you forever; that will continue to affect you emotionally, inspire you, and maybe even change how you think, you win. Your friend reads more, but you read better.

That said, there is nothing wrong with enjoying smutty romance! All fiction reading has proven to increase our capacity for empathy. And reading has no grand purpose. If you read purely for fun and escapism because, let’s face it, life is hard, then more power to you. There is no right or wrong when it comes to how we read.

All of this is to say that you should not pressure yourself to read more books, read faster, or read better. If you put pressure on yourself, or if you compare yourself to others, you will likely ruin the joys of reading before you even get started. Reading is one of life’s great joys, so let’s talk about how we can read more, read faster, and enjoy doing it!

Read More: Are Books Too Long? (Opinion)

How to Read More Books

We’ll tackle how to read faster in a moment. First: How to read more books. There are a few approaches you can take, so let’s break it down into a list:

  • Ask yourself why
  • Think about your hobbies/interests
  • Join a community

We will not be talking here about setting yourself a challenge. Challenges can often take the fun out of things, especially if you’re a neurodiverse person like myself. Instead, we’re taking an entirely positive and excited approach to reading here. So let’s start with the first point.

Ask Yourself Why

Before you pick up your next read, ask yourself why you want to read more. There are a few different answers you might come up with: To become more knowledgeable; to escape into other worlds; to feel more fulfilled; to relax. These are all common reasons for reading. Which one applies to you?

The answer to this question will determine what kinds of books you seek out. If you want to learn more, you’ll want to read more nonfiction. If you want to read for escapism, you’ll be moving towards science fiction and fantasy. If you want to feel more fulfilled, you’ll want to read more literary fiction or classics. And if you want to relax, maybe romance or crime novels are for you.

Think About Your Hobbies & Interests

What do you currently enjoy? For example, if you love cooking or baking, there are so many fantastic memoirs written by celebrated chefs and bakers. There are also travel books based around world foods. If you’re a gamer (like myself), you should definitely read more science fiction and fantasy novels.

Your current hobbies will certainly influence your reading habits, so have a think about how you spend your free time. And also think about the kinds of movies, TV shows, and video games you currently enjoy. Match those styles and genres to the fiction you seek out.

Join A Community

Every hobby has its communities, both online and in real life. Reading is no different. Obviously, there are book clubs (I’m personally not a big fan), but there are also social media circles.

If you start seeking out books—and the people who talk about them—on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok etc, your algorithm will start showing you more and more good books. You will start to engrain yourself in that community. Ask questions, ask for advice, comment on videos, let the algorithms do some of the work for you!

Community is a particularly powerful thing, and the online book space is a particularly diverse, welcoming, and wholesome place. Through these spaces, you’ll learn about book prizes, you’ll start following publishers and authors, and before you know it you’ll be a part of the book community.

A home library

How to Read Faster

If you read faster, you’ll get through more books. If that’s your goal, here are some strategies for you to employ. Just remember: you don’t have to put pressure on yourself to read more. Once again, it’s quality over quantity. It is always better to read a few smart and interesting books than to read a lot of uninspired dross.

  • Read shorter books
  • Read everywhere
  • Set aside time

These are three simple strategies that can help you read faster, and therefore read more books. And for my fellow neurodiverse readers, these are the strategies that will be especially useful for you.

Read Shorter Books

This one sounds kind of shallow, but trust me; I have some good points to make here. First, and most obviously, it takes less time (though not necessarily less effort) to read a shorter book. But we are going way beyond that.

Something that’s worth knowing, especially if you don’t currently read a lot, is that too many books are unjustifiably long. Many of the greatest works of literature are under 300 pages long. Many of the most moving, intelligent, and thematically dense literary novels are under 250 pages long. So never be afraid to focus your time on short books.

This will also help you to read faster! In my experience with ADHD, I physically read books faster—find myself turning the page more frequently—when reading shorter books because I know the end is within reach. Shorter books are exciting because they feel achievable. This has a motivating effect, and encourages us to feel confident in our reading speed.

Reading shorter books also gives you the opportunity to read more diversely. If you limit yourself to a stack of books, all of which are under 300 pages in length, your stack might consist of poetry collections, short story collections, a short classic, a literary novel, a graphic novel, a manga, and a short history book. And all will feel achievable!

Read Everywhere

Get into the habit of always having a book in your hand. Waiting in line? Read a page. Waiting for the kettle to boil? Read a page. Sitting on the bus? Read a few pages. I even read while walking down the street (provided it’s a street I know well). If you take every free moment as an opportunity to read, you’ll read more and learn to read faster, too.

We all have our phones in our hands these days. And whenever we have a spare moment or a moment where we are waiting for something, we get our phones out and start scrolling. Train yourself to pull a book out of your bag or pocket, and read a few paragraphs instead.

Set Aside Time

This one is especially good for my fellow ADHDers out there. When you’re at home, set aside an hour (or even just thirty minutes) where you put yourself in a comfy seat, lock your phone in another room, and just read. You have no other distractions but the book, and you have a set amount of time in which to do nothing but read.

Your goal is to not look up from the page. Let the words sink in; let the pages wash over you; allow yourself to sink into the book. If it’s nonfiction, bring a pencil and annotate it. If it’s a novel, engage your hyperfocus and slip into that world for an hour. Watch how time falls away and your reading speed will increase as there is nothing but you and the book.

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