Are you afraid of reading longer books? Read more in 2020 with these research-backed techniques.

Power readers have a few things in common. No, one of those things isn't a time turner.

Middlemarch is a thick book, a veritable brick. It’s no wonder so many of us have shied away from the book before now. But when it comes to taking on a daunting task like reading this mountainous book, we need more than determination and togetherness to get us through to the finish line.

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Strategies for Reading More in 2020

Finding Time

This may sound obvious, but the number one thing you need to do to find more time to read is to figure out your trade-off. If your schedule is already packed, you might have to sacrifice something else to make time for reading. This might not be as painful as it sounds. You don’t have to give up anything that’s essential. Instead, take a serious look at your day, and figure out non-essential activities you’re willing to give up in the name of more reading time. For some of us—okay, for me—this means cutting back on social media. The thing you cut out might be television. You can also do the opposite by finding little spaces of downtime to sneak in some reading. If you have a long drive to and from work every day, you might consider listening to part of the book on audio. Taking public transportation, on the other hand, is a great opportunity to crack open a book. Even while you’re waiting in line or at the doctor’s office, use those short spurts to read a page or two. Always have your book handy in whatever format you prefer, and you’ll finish even the thickest books in no time.

Breaking Up the Task

When I was a teacher, the most effective strategy I used with my students was chunking the text. To use this technique, figure out how many pages your copy of Middlemarch has and divide that by the number of days you have to read it.

My copy has about 800 pages. Since January has 31 days, I’ll divide 800 by 31 to find the number of pages I have to read each day to finish the book on time. (Oh no, math!)

I have to read about 25 pages a day to finish Middlemarch by the end of January. I read way more nonsense on the internet than that, so it’s totally doable. Most days, I can do that in one sitting, but if I’m feeling particularly fidgety, I break that up even more, reading 8-9 pages three times a day.

Create a New Habit

In Atomic Habits, James Clear explains that to make a new habit stick, you need three things: a reminder, a routine, and a reward. You can use the same framework to create a reading habit.

Remind yourself to read at the same time and place each day. Putting the book on your bedside table will help remind you to read before you go to bed. Packing the book in your purse will remind you to read during the downtimes throughout your day. Whenever you found some time in your schedule, figure out the best location to place your book to remind yourself to read then.

Create a routine by reading at the same time and place every day. Follow the reminder. You’ll need to complete the activity a dozen times before the habit sticks.

Figure out what your reward is for reading. If you’re reading before bed, your reward will be the sense of calmness that comes over you before you go to sleep. Reading in waiting rooms helps pass the time. But let’s be honest—reading is its own reward. This one is easy!

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Liking posts helps more people see them on Substack’s homepage, and we want everyone we can get to read big books by women.

I also encourage you to share this post. Invite your friends. Grab a buddy. Reading is more fun when we do it together. This is a difficult reading challenge. Having someone to keep you on track will see you through to the end.

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Until next time, thank you for reading with me.

~ Rebecca