I used to read a lot of books back when I was an elementary school student. Almost every weekend, my mother would take me to the local library and I’d pick out a new stack of random stuff to read. However, this habit began to tail off towards middle school and completely evaporated until my senior year of high school, when I started reading again on a regular basis. In the ensuing 11 years or so, I have probably read something everyday, whether it be at least a few pages of a book or some lengthy article and in the process made my way through hundreds (if not, over a thousand) of books. Whenever I divulge my reading habits to people in my personal life, I usually get asked not only what I read but how I manage to find the time to read…and how they can, “Read more books” or even, “read a book a day”. Well, with that in mind let’s see if we can’t tackle this issue for all you current non-readers out there.
Decide What You Want to Read
The simple advice is to just grab a book and get to it. The problem with that method is that most people don’t have the patience or mental muscles developed in order to just hop right into a regular reading program. People get bored, they get lazy, and they don’t know how to counteract these effects. In a very real sense, boredom arises when you’d rather be somewhere else than in the present moment. If you don’t want to be reading because you’re bored while reading, how are you going to make it a habit that sticks?
As such, I would recommend that you start by choosing a topic that you actually are interested in and reading about that. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, this phase is simply about establishing the habit of reading on a daily basis. You can read books on sports, sex, humor…whatever it may be that can keep your attention for at least a while. Once you’ve developed the reading habit, you can move on to more academic works.
OK, once you have your topic selected, go to Amazon.com and open an account if you don’t already have one (it’s free). Then search in the books category for your topic. Find popular books, one’s that look interesting, or have lots of positive reviews…use the button at the top of the page to add books to your wish list…there will be a big button that says ‘add to list’. Find 10 books to put on your list, that look interesting enough to read.
There you go, now you know exactly what to read. We still need to solve the how aspect of the equation but at least we have a list to work from. The beauty of creating lists on Amazon, is that it not only gives you a clear path of what to read but also suggests books for you to read in the future, thus creating a self-fulfilling cycle.
Find the Books
Obviously, the easiest way to get started is to order the books off of Amazon, especially in Kindle format as you can get started right away. Not only that, the Kindle app can be downloaded on any mobile device which will allow you to steal more reading time, wherever you might be…you can always carry a book with you.
Now, money might be a concern for some people reading this. I don’t really give myself a budget for reading, like I do with other expenditures in my life, as I consider it an ongoing investment. If I never started my reading habit, I wouldn’t have anything in my life that I currently have…from my life’s perspective to my income. BUT since you might not have the means or the same philosophy, we can either finds used copies on Amazon for cheap or hit up your local library.
One cool method is that if you live close to a university, you can usually donate a small fee to them each year and check out as many books as you like, just as if you were a student there. University libraries are generally the best since they will usually have a better selection than some local city or county branch.
Forming the Habit
Once you’ve gotten at least one of these books in your possession, let’s get crackin’. Developing a habit is like weight lifting, in that, if you overburden yourself right off the bat, you’ll probably stop doing it. Don’t go for volume right off the bat, just get over the hurdle of stringing together consecutive days.
How much time you spending reading each day at first, depends on your schedule and attention span obviously. Break things down as far as you need to take them…if you can only do 10 minutes, then do those 10 minutes to the best of your ability. Shut off everything else and pour your focus onto the book for 10 minutes and then be done for the day. Do this for a week, then the next week, bump things up to 20 minutes…break it up into two 10 minutes sessions if you must.
Yes, if you’re at this very low level of attention span currently, you aren’t going to read very much in terms of volume those first weeks. However, you are making this daily reading time quite routine and easily expandable. Each week bump it up to more time, splitting it into one longer session or multiple reading times, until you hit your key number for the week.
If you can read 50 pages on average in an hour (depends wholly on the book, some books require lots of attention and may only get through 30 pages in an hour) and you read an hour each day, then you should average roughly a 350 page book per week. That’s a pretty damn good number to hit.
Remember when I wrote that you can download the Kindle app on any device? Yeah, well, do that. If the book you’re reading is a physical copy, then try to take that with you where ever you go each day. It’s just much more convenient to pick up your phone or other device and read, then carrying around an actual book. Now, whenever you get a moment throughout the day, pick up a book and start reading. Lunch break? Read some pages. Standing in line? Read some pages!
I used to download free audio books from librivox.org (they only have books that are in the public domain and no longer in copyright) and listen to these books while walking to class, sitting at my desk at work and while on the treadmill. Audio books like these are a great way to get through a ton of books fast, as you can speed up the playback to 1.5-1.7x and still absorb all of the information. When I was doing this, I could sometimes add up to 3-4 audio books a week to the two or three I’d still read each week. Yes, I was at a book a day for months, years back…that was a crazy growth period.
These little moments you can read 1-2 pages start to add up and can add multiple books a year to your total and instill the reading habit within you.
Reading 100 books each year
To read 100 books per year, you will have to read 2 books per week, which is doable. Last week, I read a book on Financial Statements and Waking Up by Sam Harris and The Empty Boat by Osho. Now, those aren’t the only three books that I read from, just the three that I finished completely. All told those three were probably 700-800 pages total in length. I probably was reading 2-3 hours each day on average.
Continuing that pace, 100 books each year should be no problem for many people. Keep in mind though, that the total number doesn’t matter. You can probably fly through tons of short novels or get bogged down in a philosophy or history text for a longer period of time. Either option may be a worthwhile endeavor but may produce huge differences in the ‘number of books read’ and the usefulness of the information obtained. Reading for education is a different animal than reading for pleasure.
So, how you read 100 books in a year is to simply ratchet up the reading to somewhere between 2-4 hours a day. If you can stay on the same topic for an entire year, you’ll be one well educated mofo. Also, try utilizing the audio book habit I’ve already described, it’s an easy way to get through the classics of the world while going about your day.
How to Read More than One Book at Once
Reading more than one book at the same time isn’t really all that difficult. In fact, it’s my preferred method for getting through my list. My mind can jump all over the place in terms of its interests, so reading only one book straight through doesn’t conform to how my brain works. If your brain can focus straight through, then it might be optimal for you to take it one by one and ignore trying to read multiple books.
Now, what I do, is to always have multiple books on different subjects to choose from. This keeps me from getting confused and mixing concepts up. For instance, as I mentioned above, I read a book on financial statements last week. This is a part of my effort to learn in depth about accounting, finance, real estate, etc. BUT of course, my brain is all over the place and would get extensively bored/drained reading about that stuff one after another without any counterweight.
So, each week I am reading at least one book on finance (sometimes two) and at least one book on any other topic that may interest me. So far, it’s been meditation/philosophy, novels, history. I read from two separate books each day and actually do still manage to get plenty of reading done. Since the finance can be really number intensive and I’m terrible with math, the other topic I’m reading gives my brain a break, and actually feels much more refreshing than having to study.
OK, so this has given you a simple overview of how to read more books each year. I find that it’s best if you have some kind of list to work from and then just slowly add more reading time each day or other random books. Once you’ve gotten the habit of reading down, you can add as much intensity as you want to. There have been times, I was reading a book each day with the supplement of audio books while at work or the gym.There was also a time (when I was unemployed and in school) where I’d read 6-8+ hours each day. These times were very beneficial but I always needed to cycle off of that schedule after a few months. Your brain will need a break and it is actually more beneficial to just pull things way back and not try to have an insane pace…plus, you might want to have an actual life at some point too.