How Many Books Should You Read in a Year

How Many Books Does The Average Person Read

Our quest to do more reading is more often than not detoured by several factors that make up our day-to-day life. More time spent working, more chores to do around the house, and a hectic and fast-paced lifestyle, all contribute to a constantly decreasing amount of reading we manage to do. And since we are all well aware of the many benefits reading can have on our mental and physical health, we are constantly feeling that we are doing too little for ourselves. 

But how many books should you read in a year to make the best of this activity?

How many books does the average American read per year?

As always, the first thing we should do in order to improve ourselves is to understand where we stand compared to others like us. So if you want to know how many books you should read in a year, one sure way of getting closer to that answer is looking at some statistics on how much other people read on average.

That’s where an interesting study from Pew Research comes in to shed some light on the matter.

Book Reading Formats
% of US adults who say they have _______ in the previous 12 months
Note: those who did not give an answer are not shown
Source: survey conducted Jan 25 – Feb 28, 2021
Image Source: Pew Research Center

According to their research, on top of the completely unsurprising fact that up to 30% of Americans are choosing to read e-books instead of paperback these days, the statistic that is of particular interest to us now is that Americans read an average of 14 books a year. While that number may seem like a decent or even impressive achievement, it’s important to note that this mean average can be somewhat deceiving, as the median across all population is actually at four books per year.

How many books does the average person read a year in the UK?

According to a YouGov survey from 2014, the average person in the UK reads 10 books per year. A more recent survey, while not providing the exact number of books the average person reads in the UK per year, shows that 41% of the Brits claimed to have read 15 books or more in the past 12 months at the moment of the survey (2017).

While the numbers are not great, things seem to be improving in the more recent years, mainly because of the increasing number of people choosing the more convenient e-books, e-book readers, and reading apps.

How much CAN you read in a year? 

According to Lenstore, an average person can actually read 33 books a year and a staggering 55 books for speedy readers who can blast through a passage in 60 seconds – assuming book lengths average out to 90,000 words.

These figures might sound a bit exaggerated but guess what, it is actually possible to hit such milestones. It really is. The guys at Lenstore should know, as they offer an amazing reading speed test which can easily tell you what your reading speed is and how much you can end up reading within the next 12 months if you keep up the same pace.

If you’re curious to find out how much reading you could get done within a year, using this test will provide you with a pretty fair estimate and it only takes a couple of minutes to complete. 

When it comes to book reading milestones, Microsoft founder Bill Gates stands out. He once famously said that he reads over 50 books in a year.

Not there yet? No worries! With a little practice, motivation, and help from a good reading tracker app, you can start to set and achieve remarkable milestones.

How many books can someone read in a lifetime?

Now, this is where the figures get a bit interesting.

If we were to take as a starting point the reading speed of super readers who can comfortably go through an average of 80 books a year and the average life expectancy, the simple calculation would result in a staggering number of 4,560-4,880 books in a lifetime.

Not so many bookworms today can lay claim to such a record, but is it achievable? Why not? However, you will definitely need a solid book reading strategy and all the help you can get, and maybe a decent supply of coffee or whatever it is you take to help you stay focussed.

Technically, you can easily calculate approximately how many books you can read in your lifetime and probably work towards trying to achieve that particular goal.

You only need to estimate how long you will live, how quickly you can read, or how many books you can read in a year. If you are an average reader, we already know that you’ll read about 14 books in a year (no surprises there). All you need is a bit of math to find out how many books you will have read by the end of your life.

While these numbers might shock you, and might not seem achievable, they are a good motivator. So, instead of setting super high and unrealistic goals, starting small is far better. And as you hit each yearly target, celebrate and set another one.

This is the kind of habit that will remarkably improve your reading and experience.

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How long should you read a day?

Even though looking at the big picture is, in general, a very good way of approaching things, it can feel a bit overwhelming to constantly think about how much reading you should get done in a year. Instead, a healthier mindset would be to create healthy reading habits and focus on them on a day-by-day basis.

Instead of thinking about how much you should be reading by the end of the year, focus on the reading you should be doing today. How long should you read today, how long should you read tomorrow, and every single day after that?

Well, the answer to this depends a lot on how your days are looking and how busy your schedule usually is. Ideally, each of us should read for as long as it’s comfortably possible, but the experts say that as little as 30 minutes of reading every day should be enough for you to take advantage of all the benefits reading has to offer. 

At an average reading speed of 300 words per minute, the 10,950 minutes of reading you would do in 365 days would result in a little over 36 books read in a year (if we assume that the books are on average 90,000 words long).

How Many Books Should You Read in a Year?

The most obvious answer to “how many books should you read in a year” would be 12 since it’s research-based. But who likes putting people in boxes? We don’t! So we’ll just say that you should read as many books in a year as you feel comfortable with. 

Plus, it all depends on the kind of reader you are. Your reading speed is one of the key determinants. Some bookworms are speed readers while others are slow. Some like to take their time reading a book.

They analyze. They question. They take notes. They take numerous breaks as they read. All these affect their reading speed and, in turn, how many books they can read in a year.

While some people can comfortably get through two books in a month, some might barely manage one. Reading is a demanding task. It requires less distraction, time, and a healthy dose of discipline to work.

If you have been actively reading for a while, you should be able to ascertain just how many books you should read in a year. The goal is to remain consistent and work towards improving your annual book count.

How Many Books Does a Successful Person Read?

Reading taught Tesla’s Elon Musk to build a rocket. This shows you the power of reading. According to his brother, Elon grew up reading two books a day. He’s probably too busy now to keep up with this number but it’s evident that reading was and probably still is a phenomenal part of Elon’s success. 

Reading, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, is a popular and mentally enriching habit that has been taken up by the world’s most successful people. Due to the nature of their work, reading exposes them to an infinite range of ideas, which helps them analyze situations better as well as make informed decisions that affect their lives and businesses.

Take Mark Cuban, for instance, the American billionaire entrepreneur, television personality, media proprietor, and investor. He reads for up to three hours a day. Where does he find the time? We don’t know — but we’ll ask him next time we meet him.

Berkshire Hathaway CEO, Warren Buffet, once said in an interview that he reads over 500 pages in a day. According to Warren, he reads and thinks. This is a habit that has enabled him to make fewer impulse decisions than most people in business.

An incredible example we should all probably follow is Bill Gates, who, by his own admission, reads around 50 books every single year. 

Another interesting fact to note is that Bill Gates, alongside Elon Musk and other ridiculously successful people, is a big advocate of the “five-hour rule”. The rule is simple: read or learn something for one hour during every single workday in a week. Judging by the success the advocates of this rule can take pride in, it’s safe to assume that something as meaningless as one hour of reading per day can significantly change your life.

So, you see, reading can make you rich, smart, and emotionally intelligent. To excel at it, you just need the right strategy and drive.

In case you’re interested, we have an article with a list of books that successful people read.

How Do I Track How Many Books I Read?

You are probably feeling inspired and motivated to up your reading game, which is understandable. However, a set number of books in a year, for instance, is not a walk in the park.

As much as you want to get into reading to enrich your mind and become smart and probably even rich, reading books without some sort of a plan will not enhance the experience. In fact, it might discourage you from reading more.

To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, it is highly recommended that you track the books you read. Why? Because by tracking how many books you read, you will be able to improve your reading skills significantly.

Tracking how many books you read can also help you set meaningful reading goals. This will help you enhance your reading speed as well as help you to easily remember books you’ve read in the past – something most bookworms struggle with till today.

You can keep track of the books you read through simple methods such as keeping a reading journal where you manually record in a notebook each book you’ve read. You can also use spreadsheets to keep a digital record of all the books you’ve read and the ones you are planning to read in the near future.

While all these methods can work, the modern way to track the books you’ve read is to delegate this all-important task to technology using a reading tracker app like Basmo. 

The Basmo app will help you to conveniently track your reading time, journal your emotions and save exciting book and story ideas.

Plus, it’s super easy to track the books you’ve read with Basmo:

  1. Go to the My Books tab on your Basmo home screen.
  2. Scroll down to Book Collections and tap View all collections.
  3. Tap + Create book collection to add a new collection.
  4. You can name it anything you want and start adding books to it.

That’s it! By keeping tabs on everything you read, you will be able to beat Bill Gates’ reading habits in no time!


While reading is mostly about gaining knowledge and insights, the number of books you can read in a given period of time also matters. If you are just starting out, asking yourself how many books does the average person read is a good start. 

The answer will help you identify your capabilities and also help you to set your first reading milestone. And in order to make the experience memorable and exciting, you should also throw in a reading tracker app, you know, to spice things up and make your reading fun.

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