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How to Read 20 Books in One Month + My Personal Reading Schedule

25th April, 2017

Reading tips : How to read 20 books in a month

One month. That makes 30 days. And 20 books? Something doesn’t add up, right? I am here to tell you that everything adds up just fine (complete with the Math and the break up of hours to achieve this goal).

Not an impossible feat at all.

Let’s jump in straight to the Math; I have a gut feeling that’s what you are here for.

The mathematics for the nerds

I lean towards books that are 300-350 pages. Bigger books lure me only if they are very captivating, which often is not the case. An exception is the brilliant Anna Karenina (check this where I wrote I would skip Anna Karenina if it was a new release) that swept me off my feet. That’s just how I am as a reader.

Enough about me; back to the topic. Let’s say a book has an average number of 350 pages. That adds up to 350 x 20 books = 7000 pages in a month. Let a month have 30 days with 8 weekends and 22 weekdays.

 

Now,

 

My average reading speed is 50 pages in 30 minutes or 100 pages in 1 hour.

I start my day reading half an hour in the morning. I usually pick a nice and soothing read and it helps calm me down before the day begins. Then by night I clock in another 1.5 hours.

 

Calculations :

Goal for one month = 20 books = roughly 7000 pages

No of days in a month = 30 days = 22 weekdays +8 weekends

 

Total hours read in a weekday = 2

Pages read in a weekday = 100 x 2 = 200

Pages read over a month on weekdays = 200 x 22= 4400 pages

 

On Saturdays and Sundays, I clock in an average of three hours a day.

Pages read on a single weekend = 100 x 3 = 300

Pages read over a month on weekends = 300 x 8 = 2400 pages

 

Total number of pages read in a month = 4400 + 2400 = 6800 pages

That makes it 19 books and a partially read book. Now, we need to clock in 200 more pages over the whole month to finish the goal of 7000 pages.

Picture this. Say you put in 5 more minutes each day. Maybe catch up on a bit of reading on your commute or maybe skim through that e-copy while waiting at the grocery store. How does that add up?

 

The extra reading time over a month = 5 minutes/day x 30 days = 150 minutes =2.5 hours

Extra reading done by read 5 extra minutes a day = 250 pages

 

Which brings us to,

Total pages read in a month = 6800 + 250 pages = 7050 pages

That’s 20 books completed and a wee bit into your next read. All in a month’s time. Brilliant, huh?

Reading tips: How to read 20 books in a month

Anomalies

The Math looks all nice and shiny on paper (screen?). But quite often, it does not work out this way.

  • The books on your pile may be thicker than 350 pages.
  • Some books deserve more time and reflection to understand the core matter within the pages.
  • You might not be able to read on some days. There is work, social life, family, meet ups, work lunches, trips over weekends; a zillion things can take up your time even if reading is a priority. Or some days you might just not be in a mood to read!

The reality & the (un)necessary disclaimer

Did all the mathematical bits scare you? Personally I don’t care about the numbers read over any period of time. My goal is to only to find the time to devote to reading good books. Since my TBR pile is a HUGE and spilling all over the place, I try to make a dent in it with a few pages each day.

Here are a few facts:

  • I don’t think I have read 20 books in any month. But I am positive I have read 17 or so in some months. And yes, positive that I have often read 7000 pages (bigger books problems).
  • In March, 2018, I read 7 books only. That was all I could manage. And that’s okay.
  • This year I’ve been hooked to some TV shows (Suits, The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel) and I have read lesser than usual. Not sorry at all.
  • I read multiple books at a time. So after 50 pages in a book, I shift to another book. I am a distracted reader and this works best for me. Otherwise I get bored.
  • I also read different genres and formats over a month.

Of course, this post makes no sense if I do not repeat the disclaimer that you should never run behind numbers. Dedicated bookworms know without a doubt that it isn’t the number of books that you read that matter but what you read and how the book affects you. Never go on a reading spree to add books to your Goodreads challenge. Rather go on a reading marathon to find joy and comfort in quality reads.

Final Verdict :

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! I hope you will make an effort to read ten more minutes than usual, each day. Reading is not a competition or a number game. But if you love books, there are ways to fit them in your daily life. I am planning a series of posts on how to get more reading done as well as how to find those two hours (in my case) to read everyday. Stay tuned. If you struggle with a specific aspect of reading, I’d love to hear about it.

This Post Has 71 Comments
    1. I agree! I think good books always make us enjoy the process of reading and get through them fast enough. It is the books that do not spark interest that make us drag through a read or get into a slump.

  1. This is very interesting! One thing I’ve noticed is that books that I think I “ought” to be reading seem to drag in the reading, while books I really love get read very fast, even if they are rather long and not fluffy ones — I somehow find the time, or steal it from somewhere. So one important addition to this excellent advice is, Choose your books carefully before you set out on that journey with the writer.

    1. That is very true. When we are totally interested in the book, we read faster. I have noticed the same. Books I don’t enjoy make me dread reading time.

      I read multiple books which means at least one of the books would be really really interesting for me. On the downside, the mediocre book might drag on and on for months.

    1. It really depends on the month. And the kind of reads. I read my share of short stories and graphic novels too. And I also mix up my genres. If I have two classics on the list, I definitely read much lesser.

  2. The only thing is that I often need recovery time in between books. If there is a book that resonates with me or moves me deeply, I tend to linger over it in my mind and process everything for a day or two before I move on to the next read.

    1. Oh yes! Isn’t that the best kind? I sometimes take a day off and mull over the book in a nice way. Recently I read Circe and I wanted to spend a whole week thinking about it. (I couldn’t. I grabbed Madelline Miller’s first book The Song of Achilles the next day). Both were such brilliant reads. I’d say 7 is pretty good for a month. I feel I have read so much whenever the number is above 5.

  3. I have read around 15 to 16 novellas per month in a few months last year. I loved the math you projected. Now I need to time myself. My speed may be a tad bit slower. Having said all that it’s doable. Thanks for this post.
    Another point I wanted to add was carry your book/ Kindle everywhere. Then you can keep adding those extra pages.

    1. I am glad you enjoyed the post. I am hoping to write a Part 2 for this post on how to actually distribute the reading time over a day. And how to read even if you are busy. And carrying a book is one important point. I used to carry short stories and I was genuinely surprised how much of reading happens when standing in queues to pay bills, waiting for bus, etc. And Kindle is definitely handy. I find it so useful during travel.

  4. Love this! I think it can be difficult to talk about the number of books we can manage to read, as people either feel competitive, or want to steer away from competitiveness that they won’t talk about it. You’ve steered between those things very well!

    I read a bit slower than you – I’ve worked out I usually do a page a minute – but I would like to fit more reading time in, and get through those enormous tbr piles.

    1. Thank you Simon. I am glad that came across well. I wanted to make sure that I am not promoting mindless reading just for the sake of a number at the end of the month. And it doesn’t make sense to be competitive because different people enjoy different genres and different styles of language require a different amount of time to appreciate the book.

      Hopefully we both would tackle those huge TBR piles (not going to happen, but no harm in hoping).

  5. Great post. I love the numbers part because I love numbers! I really love big books and sometimes those draw me in (Middlemarch) so I might not read as much as I would like. I did put a stack of books on my night table so I can read/rotate between them for my evening reads. I only managed a couple chapters last night because I was very sleepy but knowing these are a few I want to get to I think I’ll jusf make bedtime earlier to try your recommendations! Thanks Resh!

    1. Thank you very much. Middlemarch has been on my TBR for a very long time. I usually gravitate towards shorter reads (300-400 pages). But I don’t mind classics that are bigger. I just don’t have the patience for chunky new releases unless they are spectacular!

      I have postponed Middlemarch every year because I am intimidated by the size. But I am pretty sure I would love it when I read it.

      I also alternate between books. That helps me stay interested in the books that I am reading. Thanks for visiting. 🙂

  6. I read at half your speed and for half as many number of hours as you, which brings my total to 1/4 ie 5 books.
    As scary as that might seem, your post has deeply encouraged me. I would definitely and try to read more.
    I am also working on my reading speed 🙂

    1. 5 is an excellent number! I’d say 5 and above makes for a really committed reader. That is a minimum of a book a week and it is awesome!

      Plus I know I can read more during weekends because I am usually cooped up at home (however much I want to get out). That’s why my reading takes a downhill during winter months because I am usually out all the time.

      I am glad you found the post encouraging, Neha. It is all a matter of finding ‘five’ more minutes than your usual schedule. Don’t stress about it.

  7. I’m not a fan of numbers, but I really loved reading the math part of this post, it was so interesting, thank you for taking the time to do this – I seriously would have lost my mind and given up, so, congratulations for that haha.
    I never read 20 books a month, I just can’t manage to do it between working full time and everything else in life and blogging. I read on average maybe 7 books per month and that number has grown though ever since I started blogging and… strangely, ever since I started working as well, because I have hours of commute to get to work. This post is really encouraging, though, and really makes me want to get in that 5 extra-minutes of reading 🙂 But you’re right, what matters the most is not the number of books we read, but how we enjoy them 😀
    Lovely post! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Marie. I started noticing how important stolen moments of five minute reads are when I started reading short stories while standing in queues (post office, paying bills etc). I could finish a story in two or three queue sessions while when I don’t read, I just whine in my mind about how the employee is slow or why the queue is so long.

      I love the way you manage your blog. I post much lesser and you’ve always been an inspiration.

      1. I really should start doing that as well…. complaining about queues is something I frequently do, it would be way better to take some time to read my book instead – and would probably make me a bit less mad, as well, haha 🙂

        Oh wow, thank you so, so much, you are too sweet <3 <3 <3 <3

  8. So impressive. I’m so bad at math, ha ha! But you’re so right, five minutes here and there can really add up. I think I’m reading more now that I’ve stopped using Facebook! You make me want to read even more. 🙂

  9. I love your math! I only read 50 pages in an hour, on average, so it makes sense I only read 7 to 10 books a month (10 if I’m lucky).
    For people with young kids, I used to find it helpful to hide in the bathroom and read when I got a chance. 🙂

  10. I am also an easily distracted reader. Twitter can be a major obstacle. I never thought about switching books in order to deal with my wandering brain. I might try this. As of late, I am trying not to force myself to read if I’m not feeling it and while that means I read less every month, I’m finding that I get a chance to appreciate each read more.

    1. That’s the best way Alicia. Because when you are forcing yourself for a read that you are not very interested in, then it is more of a waste of time and energy. When we are invested in the book we read faster and better.

  11. Maths for me is a biiiiig problem but I totally get what you’re saying. For me o read roughly 70 to 100 pages an hour and if I’m reading classics, make it 50 pages an hour. I also realized I read books on Kindle way faster, I take a day or a day and half to finish it up.
    When it comes to big books, I involve a little maths.
    For example, if it’s a 600 page book, I’ll divide by 2, then divide the 300 by 2 and give myself 150 as my day target and if I get to read more than that a day, all the better. Basically, my little math helps me see that the book isn’t as huge and in 4 days I can finish it. In between the big book I’ll read other small books (mostly on my Kindle) to avoid getting bored.

    1. That is a great way to split up big books. When I read Anna Karenina, I split the book into small sections and tried to read each section in a few days. That worked great for me.

      I agree with you. I find reading classics and some modern classics to be a slow affair while Kindle reads are finished in no time at all. But I enjoy physical books more in spite of the advantage of reading at such a fast pace. So I mix up physical books and e-copies.

  12. I am stunned at your calculations, but then your reality check is also very important. There are some days when I can barely read 3-4 pages, and others when I read a whole book. And it’s not always a reflection on the quality of the book, or how busy I am. Sometimes it’s just mood and mind darting about etc.

    1. I agree, Marina. Reading less is often not because of the book not being good or about how busy life is. Sometimes we just don’t feel like. Last year I read a lot more than this year. But this year we’ve been making some changes to the house, having friends over almost every other day, and also in the mean time I got hooked to some TV shows. It is a matter of how our priorities change.

      I’d done these calculations last year. (Sept or so) but I got the time to complete the whole post only now. So I thought a reality check was necessary because even though I am reading lesser now, I am completely happy with my reading. And also, I know for a fact if I want to, I can read more.

  13. Wow Resh! You read so much so fast. I found this year I’m been trying to cut down on social media/tv time and focus more on reading. Like you said, I’ve found that reading early in the morning really helps me get ahead and reading before bedtime. I also stick to the same page length of books. Although I find non-fiction books always take me much longer than others to read. Happy Reading! 🙂

    1. Same with me. I read non fic books waaaay slower because there is so much to think and understand. And I am a little skeptical about big books. I lose my patience if the book isn’t a great read and yet too long

  14. Okay so I am finally here 😀 What a nice post Resh. I have to admit though that this calculation fails for me because I am too slow reader 🙁 I can hardly read 30-40 pages in an hour and that too if no one disturbs me 😛
    I am really jealous when someone mention in their monthly wrap-up that they have read 18 or 24 books a month. I am like, how? This is certainly not possible with me between the full time job and married life. I hardly get 2 hours of reading a day and that too if Netflix is not disturbing me 😛
    Oh and btw, I am loving Mrs. Maisel series 😛

    But this post is amazing Resh. I think when I would read a certain amount of books, after specific years, I too would be a fast reader 😛

    1. Your speed will slowly improve. I think my speed in Malayalam is only 20 or 30 pages in an hour. Inspite of knowing how to read and speak the language perfectly well. Because I have absolutely no practice in reading Mal books. I pick one or two over a year. But I’ve been reading Eng ones since I was a child. So keep reading and without you realizing it, your speed would improve.

  15. Wow, that’s so impressive and simple!

    I actually have no idea how many pages I read in an hour but I’m known to read up to a 100 and as little as 20. I get distracted by social media and the internet in general a lot which is why it helps me to read before bed and that’s when I get most of my reading done. However, my page count is bad since I definitely can read if I put my mind to it, but don’t. Usually because I’m tired after work or not in the mood which sucks because I’m always thinking that I can read.

    But yeah, my ultimate goal is definitely quality over quantity which certainly doesn’t help with reading more pages in a month. Great post, Resh!

  16. I save the chunksters for audible books. Put the sleep timer on 30 or 60 minutes at night and then every time I’m in the car, even for 20 minute trips my phone connects to the blue tooth in the car and it kicks in when the car starts. I can’t believe how many books I can listen to just doing 20 and 30 minute errands around town. I save the “real” books for morning reads and books that are less than 350 pages or so.

    1. That’s a very handy tip. I listen to classics in audiobooks since I find it easier to get through them that way. And you are absolutely right. We never realize how much we read in 20 min errands until we try it out.

  17. I absolutely love how you did the maths here! I read about the same in a good month, but never stopped to think how- I do read about 100 pages in an hour though, so that makes sense. I sometimes read less though of course- like you said, you can’t always read as much in one month. Great post!

  18. I enjoyed reading this detailed post, but i think we should focus on deep reading rather than fast reading. A personal opinion. Like for me, i tend to think a lot about the characters and the story and the emotions involved while reading any book, makes me end up re reading the same paragraphs again and again to internalize it all. This is the only way i really remember it all. I dislike re reading books a second time. So max. number of books i can read in a month is around 4-5. More if they are shorter ones.

    Do you re read books?

    1. I’d love to re read books but I often don’t find the time. I have re read some Austen novels over the last three years but I haven’t re read anything other than classics.

  19. Fantastic article which was well written and easy to understand. Sometimes i think we put a bit to much pressure on ourselfs to read and read just to finish one book to start another. Just as an xperiment im going to log how much i read time wise an number of pages and see what surprises arise from it. Thanks you for the article which i loved reading .

  20. Wow, I thought for sure your big secret would be audiobooks, but it seems like that’s not a huge factor for you. You’ve given me motivation to try and squeeze a bit more reading in! My main problem is I can’t get a good, undistracted chunk of time in until my kids are asleep – and then I’m really tired!

    1. That’s understandable. Don’t stress about your reading but get hold of the much needed rest. Looking after kids can be so exhausting at the end of the day that you might not want to read. Have you tried the Little Black Classics or the new Penguin moderns? They are short so maybe you will love them because you can finish them easily.

      Audiobooks sure help me. Especially with classics. I’d listen to them while cooking or doing chores. But I haven’t listened to one in a while (haven’t read classics for sometime) but they sure help me get through chunky books at an easier pace.

  21. Haha I only suffered through the maths cause it’s you! 🙂 Hope you manage to read more according to your calculations! I remember when I used to have a subway commute, that really added 1 book a week. Now my reading varies wildly, as does my brain fog and my interest in other media, so I usually read around 4 a month, but sometimes it’s ten. It’s always a fun surprise 🙂 Happy reading in May!

  22. I LOVE this post. I am definitely one of those people, when, confronted with a blogger clocking up 15+ books in a month is always like ‘HOW?!’ – so now I know! Equally though, I really appreciate that you made the point that it’s not about numbers. I, for example, didn’t read much during April, but I did read The Secret History, which is very long but amazing, so it was still a good reading month for me.

  23. Reading in queues is one of my favourite things to do. It feels like such a win-win because, as you’ve said, you were otherwise engaged in quietly griping to yourself about how horrible it is being stuck in a line, so it’s not just adding a book into the experience but taking away that nasty bit of useless complaining. I still remember waiting for an hour to buy train tickets but I had Tana French’s first mystery in hand so I didn’t care! Sometimes I even read while waiting to cross a street at a light depending on the book and the sidewalk corner, which only amounts to a few paragraphs but maybe even those tiny bits add up! It’s wonderful that your decision to share the math here has inspired so many commenters to take small pockets of time and read in them: why not?!

    1. Thank you so much. Yes, I was just like you. I used to get so frustrated in queues thinking about all the time I was wasting. Now as I have started reading, I always wish queues were longer. haha

  24. I actually read 19 books last month, and I’m colossally proud of myself 🙂 I can also read at 100 pages an hour, but I normally choose to be slower cause it just feels nicer. After all, I’m reading for myself and not for the numbers. Last month I actually had less work so I had more time to read, plus I did three readathons 🙂 I guess they really add up!
    It’s really cool that you manage 20ish books more regularly. What I struggle with after that month now though is also writing all the reviews 😀

    1. I am glad to hear you read so much last month. And no, I don’t read 20 every month. As I say here, it is just that I can read that number if I try really hard. But sometimes I get distracted by movies or TV shows or going out with friends or simply not having the mood to read. I read just seven books in March. But this month I’ve been reading more and I am happy about it. As you mentioned, it really depends on what else is there in life at the moment. Thanks for reading

  25. I feel like a slow reader after reading this lol. I guess I’ve never sat down and figured out my average reading speed, but I can guarantee that I’m not reading 100 pages per hour… I cannot finish a 350page book in 3.5 hours. Did you take a speed reading course?! Is that normal for most people?! Am I failing as a bookworm?!

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