How to Read Less: Some Terrible Ideas


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Do you want to read less? Have you examined your life and discovered that you simply spend too much time reading? Is reading getting in the way of other aspects of your life, perhaps interfering with your relationships or your work? I can help. I, too, used to be a reader. Once upon a time, I would spend all of my free time — and a lot of the time that I definitely should have been doing other things — reading. But in the last several years I have found a number of tricks to read less, and I am here to share them with you. Consider it my way of giving back to the Book Riot community.

A guaranteed way to read less is to go through a major life change. Having a baby is the obvious one, but it’s one that really only works if you were planning to do it anyway (on the up side, it’s terribly expensive, which means less money for books). You might try moving to a new home, starting a new relationship, or switching jobs instead. But any of those will be a big commitment, and you may only want smaller ideas for reading less.

Read on if you want to learn how to read less.

Get A Hobby

You know what’s great about knitting? It uses both my hands, leaving me no way to hold a book. Cross-stitch, embroidery, crochet, and weaving (any of the fiber arts, really) work just as well, and the same goes for many other hobbies, such as painting and drawing, making music, letter writing, and roller derby. If your hands are occupied — or better yet, your whole body is busy — you can’t possibly be reading. (Don’t tell anyone I said this, but many hobbies pair well with an audiobook. Shh! I was never here!)

Be A Writer

Most writers will tell you that reading is a vital part of the job, and I suppose that is technically true, BUT you simply can’t read and write at the same time. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve also tried writing multiple projects at once, like literally simultaneously, and let me tell you that scrambled my brain so good I definitely couldn’t read for a week after. (On the flip side, focusing on writing may lead you to the kind of writerly procrastination where you will do literally anything to avoid writing, including reading, so BEWARE!)

Be Indulgent

Take a nap. Take a long walk. Take a bath. Go to the zoo. Indulge yourself in self-care to refill your well and refuel your mind. There is only one thing you absolutely must do: Forget to bring a book. (Like audiobooks? Then you absolutely, positively, must forget your headphones.)

Learn Something New

Now, this one is tricky. A lot of new skills can best be learned from…a book. But! Consider reading one instructional book — say, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat — and learning something that will take up more time when you could otherwise be reading. You can’t julienne and turn the page simultaneously! (Don’t want to learn to cook? No problem! You can learn just about anything! It’s only one book, it’s okay.)

Do Some Good

If you’re volunteering, you’re probably not reading more than the safety guidelines (which are essential reading and therefore don’t count against your goal of reading less). Give your time to a food bank, children’s sports, cleaning up National Forest trails, or whatever cause is important to you! Guaranteed lack of reading time.

Do Some Bad

I am not one to encourage bad deeds or unhealthy habits, but sometimes a person’s gotta do what a person’s gotta do. And you? You gotta do something bad. Take up internet trolling, cigar smoking, even supervillainy if it helps you to stay away from books! (Editor’s note: Book Riot does not endorse any of those actions except reading.)


None of these ideas are particularly good ones. In fact, I would say that are not any good at all. If you actually want to read less, consider following Laura’s advice. Or, if what you really want is to better understand and savor the books that you do read, check out what Christine has to say.

Otherwise, to paraphrase Dorothy Parker: You might as well read.


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