book chair 2Sorry for the clickbait headline. I’ll keep this short.

Here’s my suggestion: if you don’t have time to read books, start reading chapters instead.

Almost every time I read from a book—whether a novel or a biography or a non-fiction book—I have two things with me: a pen and a bookmark.

I use the pen to underline or circle phrases or make notations in the margins. This makes finding things easier, and I tend to remember things better when I mark them.

I then place the bookmark at the end of the chapter. That creates a small goal: I simply want to finish the chapter. It’s motivation when I’m tired and I see there are just a few pages left—I can press on and get it finished. It allows me to hear the author’s coherent argument (or with biography or fiction, to see the picture that the author wants me to see). It doesn’t give me the entire argument or picture, but it gives me a coherent part of the whole.

If the average person readers 250-300 words a minute, and if the average book page has about that many words, then you can use that as a rough calculation. If you can find 10-15 minutes in your day to read, you can often get through a chapter.

Not every book needs to be finished. But I suspect if you think in terms of reading chapters, rather than reading “whole books” or reading “just a few pages,” you’ll end up finishing more books by thinking this way than the other ways.

Just a suggestion.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t Have Time to Read Books? Try This One Weird Trick”

  1. curtis sheidler says:

    I’m disappointed, Justin. I saw the picture, and I was DESPERATELY hoping the “one weird trick” was to try sitting on them.

    (Your advice is good, too, though.)

  2. Pedro Cheung says:

    With my busy life, I can only afford to read one chapter at a time. So this is great advice.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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