I Read 32 Books Last Summer — Here Are 5 Rules I Live by to Finish as Many as Possible

published Jul 1, 2021
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Last summer, I read 32 books cover to cover. I know this because I keep an exhaustive list in my phone of every book I complete each month to track my reading goals and patterns and to have book recommendations handy whenever someone asks. I’ve always been a voracious reader, but something about summer unlocks an even greater need to read as many books as possible while enjoying the sunshine and long, warm days.

Required summer reading lists may be a thing of the past for you, but the summer months are huge for buzzy new book releases and classic favorites alike. Plus, there’s nothing better than relaxing by the water or in the yard with a good book, making this season one of the most popular to get some reading done. While you don’t have to read 30+ books in a few months (it’s unlikely I will this year, either!), you can easily make a list and check it off with some simple hacks to your reading routine.

Read what you want.

Free yourself from any preconceived notions of what you “have” to read and enjoy your selections! Sink your teeth into juicy beach reads, swoon over romances, plow through a stack of thrillers, or whatever floats your boat. Indulge in a paperback page-turner, stay up all night finishing a mystery, or try a new genre entirely. If you’re looking forward to the book, you’re more likely to pick it up. There are so many different ways to read, so don’t be afraid to think outside your go-to box.

Summer reading doesn’t have to be limited to hefty hardcovers or mutli-book series, either. Poetry books can be a wonderful way to diversify your palate and open up your eyes to new reading worlds. Short stories can change the way you think about language and plot. Novellas are slim, portable books that create a whole world in just a small amount of pages. And re-reads totally count: if you’re itching to revisit a childhood favorite or that classic summer book you pull out each June, go for it. You’re still reading, even if it’s that tattered copy of Judy Blume’s “Summer Sisters” you revisit again and again. (Guilty.)

Keep a book with you at all times.

You never know when you’ll get the urge to revisit your latest fave, so follow the advice of other voracious readers and pack that paperback in your bag wherever you travel, whether that’s to the office, the beach, or to meet a friend for happy hour. “I have added my Kindle to the ‘keys, phone, wallet’ motto, so if I am out and about and have a spare five or 10 minutes, I am cognizant about pulling that out [instead of] my phone,” reader Veronica Hudson previously told Apartment Therapy.

Any period of downtime can be an opportunity to chip away at your latest read. Read a few pages instead of scrolling through your phone, or read on your phone via the Libby or Kindle apps. If you like to read a few books at a time, keep one by your bed and one near the couch to pick up during downtime. If you drive often, stash a book in your car just in case you arrive early or get a flat tire — hey, it happens, so be prepared.

Read with a friend.

Book clubs can be a great motivator — but making the commitment to read a certain book by a certain time, and make a semi-regular meeting might not fit perfectly with your schedule right now. Take the pressure off a bit and try reading the same book as a good pal can make the process more engaging and fun. Check in via text or make a pool or happy hour date to chat over the characters and their exploits. You’ll get quality time with a friend and the chance to have a healthy debate or expand each other’s literary horizons.

Credit: Lana Kenney

Opt for an audiobook.

If you love going for a long walk on a sunny summer day, cue up an audiobook to accompany you on your stroll. It’s a great way to lose yourself and calm your mind while still getting some reading done. As Psychology Today noted in 2018, audio books allow your eyes to take a break, help reduce stress, and may even cultivate empathy in the listener. If you’re new to the audiobook world, try Libro.fm to support local bookstores and enjoy everything from nonfiction to gossipy celeb memoirs to true crime.

Put your phone away.

Leave your phone stashed away in your beach bag or in the house when you’re reading outside so you’re less likely to be distracted by the ping of text messages or the temptations of Twitter. If you can’t be separated from your phone for that long, turn on the Do Not Disturb feature and resist the urge to scroll when you could be turning pages.

If you’re not feeling it, put it down.

As author Naben Ruthnum noted in Forge, “The pressure to read ‘correctly,’ whatever that means, can get in the way of reading at all. Unfortunately, too many of us were trained from childhood to see reading as a rigid responsibility: Pick the right books. Learn from those books. Finish those books.”

It’s time to do away with that antiquated notion — you won’t be tested on that new read, so don’t feel pressured to finish a book you aren’t enjoying! Even if it’s the buzziest bestseller of the year, if you’re not into it, it’s not going to happen. Give it to a friend or put it in a Little Free Library to fuel someone else’s next great read.