People always ask me how I read so many books every year. I like to joke that I don’t have a social life and spend all my time reading. It’s funny because it’s pretty much the truth. What can I say? There are just so many incredible books I want to enjoy. Efficiency is key. If you, too, want to read as many books as possible, I have 12 tips to help you out.
1. Read a thriller. And stay up all night reading it. Why waste time sleeping when you could be reading? I recommend THE DRY by Jane Harper, THE GIRL BEFORE by J. P. Delaney, or THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW by A. J. Finn.
2. Start easy. You’ll need coffee to recover from your long night of reading. Enjoy a cup at your local café and ease into the day with a fun, easy-to-read novel. THE ASSISTANTS by Camille Perri, for example, is highly entertaining. It’s about a 30-year-old assistant who takes the opportunity afforded by a technical error on an expense report to steal money from her company. THE PEOPLE WE HATE AT THE WEDDING by Grant Ginder, WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT CHARLIE OUTLAW by Leah Stewart, or THE NEST by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney will also do the trick.
Tina is a 33-year-old executive assistant and after years as a bartender pouring drinks from bottles that cost more than her rent, a technical error with an expense report presents her with the opportunity to pay off all of her student loans. As Tina pursues her morally questionable plan, other assistants with crushing debt want in, spawning a movement that has implications far beyond what anyone anticipated.
3. Read on your commute. Take a second cup of coffee to go and start your commute to work. If you, like me, use public transportation, short story collections are the way to go—especially if your commute isn’t horribly long. This way you can finish one short story at a time and not worry about holding on to your place in a novel. You can’t go wrong with BACK TALK by Danielle Lazarin, DIFFICULT WOMEN by Roxane Gay, or BARBARA THE SLUT AND OTHER PEOPLE by Lauren Holmes.
4. Listen to audiobooks while you’re at work. No one will suspect that you’re not actually working, and the time will fly by. LINCOLN IN THE BARDO by George Saunders is one of my favorites. It’s narrated by an entire cast of amazing voices, including Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, Carrie Brownstein, Lena Dunham, Julianne Moore, Rainn Wilson, and Mary Karr. I also highly recommend LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED by Jenny Lawson and HEARTBURN by Nora Ephron (which is narrated by Meryl Streep!).
George Saunders is an acclaimed short story writer of collections THE TENTH OF DECEMBER, PASTORALIA, and more. His first novel, LINCOLN IN THE BARDO, is a mesmerizing blend of historical fact and fiction. It is the story of the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son, Willie, told almost entirely through the voices of the spirits in the graveyard where Willie is laid to rest and where Lincoln returns to hold his son’s body. —Erin
5. Read while you eat. Instead of puzzling over what to eat for lunch, grab a salad and a smart book to keep your brain firing through your break. Speaking of puzzles, I have the perfect book for you! THE LAST EQUATION OF ISAAC SEVERY by Nova Jacobs is a literary mystery about a struggling bookseller whose recently deceased grandfather, a famed mathematician, left behind a dangerous equation. Already read it? No worries. Pick up THE FEMALE PURSUASION by Meg Wolitzer or ASYMMETRY by Lisa Halliday instead.
6. Run and read. The workday is over. Let’s hit the books—I mean the gym. Prop a book up on your treadmill, optical, or stationary bicycle, and distract yourself from the pain with a really compelling read. I’ve found dystopian novels or historical fiction to be particularly helpful in taking my mind off the burning pain in my lungs. My current treadmill read is RED CLOCKS by Leni Zumas—a riveting story in the vein of Margaret Atwood’s THE HANDMAID’S TALE. Next up is WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel.
7. Be sneaky. Meeting up with friends for drinks after work? No worries, I’ve got you covered. Sneak a short book in your purse or gym bag and take lots of bathroom breaks. Sure, your friends might think you have some bladder control issues, but you’ll get through your TBR a lot faster than they will. ANOTHER BROOKLYN is a 192-page novel that is so good you may accidentally forget to leave the bathroom stall. Looking for more stunning short books? Try ONE OF THE BOYS by Daniel Magariel and WEST by Carys Davies.
8. Join a book club. Instead of sneaking off to read on your own, grab a few friends and read together. This is a great way to stay on track with your reading goals and your friendships. Plus, book clubs are really, really fun. The Off the Shelf book club is currently reading THE TEA GIRL OF HUMMINGBIRD LANE by Lisa See for our Facebook Live discussion on April 13. You may also like AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE by Tayari Jones, THE LIGHT WE LOST by Jill Santopolo, or ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline.
9. Cook and book. Catch up on your reading while you wait for your food to finish cooking (or to be delivered if you’re lazy like me). This is your chance to finish your morning coffee book, your commuter short stories, and your gym book. All caught up? Well, this is the time to channel your inner foodie. I just read THE POTLIKKER PAPERS by John T. Edge, and loved it. WHAT SHE ATE by Laura Shapiro, A HOMEMADE LIFE by Molly Wizenberg, and THE FOOD EXPLORER by Daniel Stone are all excellent as well.
10. Stuck on a book you don’t like? Stop wasting time and put it down! Instead pick up a book you know you’ll love. I can’t recommend highly enough RABBIT CAKE by Annie Hartnett, SWIMMING LESSONS by Claire Fuller, THE PARIS WIFE by Paula McClain, WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE by Maria Semple, and THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd. Need I go on?
11. Read. Repeat. It’s now 11 p.m. Time flies when you’re reading. Congrats on a successful day chock-full of great books. Reward yourself by settling in for a nice long night with Lisa Jewell’s heart-pounding suspense novel I FOUND YOU. Then get ready to do it all over again!
12. Never, ever be caught without a book. Just don’t do it. You never know when you’re going to find yourself stuck in traffic or waiting on a friend. I always have at least two on me at all times. In my purse right now you’ll find GIRLS BURN BRIGHTER by Shobha Rao and TANGERINE by Christine Mangan. After all, you can always get a bigger bag. . . .