Until I figured out how to get more reading in, I only did the minimum confining myself to the reports and articles related to my work as as a journalist
Several years ago, I challenged my wife to a reading competition to get my general reading up. She's a formidable adversary, devouring roughly a book a week.
I don't remember the exact tally, but it was something like 40 to 3 in her favour. I got through The Hunger Games: an abysmal performance.
Fast forward to today, and I'm reading on average 30 books a year. How did that happen?
We all know we should do more reading, I'm not going to go into its benefits. I do it because it makes me moderately smarter, or at least, I appear to know stuff because I've been reading.
I read this book on better sleep habits once and annoyed the crap out of everyone for weeks at dinner parties with what I knew about circadian rhythms, our ancestral sleep patterns and why it's crucial to stay away from screens for 90min before bed.
I'm writing this post because I got a response to my newsletter from someone with the comment that "people don't read anymore." That scared me, so I thought I'd write this post to help anyone who feels like they should read more but doesn't have the strategies, to do just that. Here's what worked for me:
1. Start with books with no more than 200 pages
I needed a sense of accomplishment so instead of trying to read Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and lose all faith in my existence; I went for non-fiction biographies. Given my interest in tennis, I just started with tennis players (Agassi, Sampras, Federer, McEnroe…). Find something short you can identify with and run with it.
2. Delete all games from your phone and install the Kindle app
No one is going to like this, but the only way for me to increase my reading was to use all available time to read and make it more accessible. The games had to make way for knowledge. I still play games but on the Xbox (once in a blue moon).
3. Pick up and re-read of a book that made you feel amazing
There must be a defining book you read at some point in your life. That's Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, so, I re-read it. It was amazing to relive the wonder with the new perspective of age and added experience. The feeling of reliving that book was ecstasy (or soma?) and catapulted me forward.
4. Create a booklist
Prick your ears for books that come up in conversation among your friends, or, ask them. You can also find someone else's reading list online and start there! I met someone on a flight who said he's working his way through Jordan Peterson's reading list (ah, there's Crime and Punishment again!). Purchase the first two books on the list and then knock them off one by one, purchasing the next as motivation for getting through the last.
5. Read multiple books at a time
I rotate between themes and categories but try to have a few books on different subjects going at the same time. I get bored easily. My wife sometimes laughs at me because I'm chewing on a long read before bed and it seems like it's taking forever. I'm making steady progress every day, even if I only read 5 - 10 pages a night.
6. Designate time to read
I read for 10 minutes in the morning before the day kicks off (p.s. got that from a Hal Elrod's book The Miracle Morning). You can make it more or less. The morning book is inspirational.
I have an audiobook for when I walk the dog, that's 10 to 20minutes of reading, well, it's cheating, but I can't walk and read so this makes it easy. On short trips, I read on my mobile (especially when the WiFi is patchy),
Finally, there's a book at my bedside table which I dip into before bed, which I'm not always consistent about.
7. Read consistently
Think about it, if I have three books that I'm reading averaging only ten pages per session on each, that's 30 pages a day, or 3000 pages in 100 days. Only one of those books will be a 1000 pages, the others will have much fewer, so you'll quickly be reading two books a month and that doesn't include audiobooks. Now, all you've got to do is do that, and after a year you'll have easily read 30 books or more, gained some knowledge, feel accomplished, and have more fodder to talk about at dinner parties.
"Foster a love of reading, it's our core skill as human beings. It's the gateway to everything else. It gets you involved." - Bill Gates (taken from "If I could tell you just one thing…" by Richard Reed)
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