Honestly, how many books do you read in a month? Or maybe a year? Here are 8 ways to read more books, increasing how many pages you get through in today’s fast-paced digital world.
Throughout my twenties, I read maybe one or two books a year – I know, not good at all. To be fair, I never really committed to adding reading to my daily routine until I became 30. I think most people have a moment when they hit the big 3-0, and contemplate on where they are in their life. This definitely happened to me, and I started to begin changing my whole daily and weekly routines, to better myself (self-improve). I made it a habit to read at least 2 hours a day, and now 33, has helped me achieve reading 15 books a year. And still, I want to improve on that number, also I have never felt more creatively alive in all areas of my life. I don’t tend to read novels, or stories, I’m more of a knowledge reader, who reads to learn new things or just improve his knowledge about subjects I already know. In fact, I have never felt more interesting, it’s even sparked creativity for writing my own book which I started in December 2020. Increasing my amount of reading has amplified my reading rate which has been the main reason I am constantly improving now.
Why did I wait so long to start reading more? I’m disappointed that I didn’t do it sooner. But I guess when your younger, other things seem to take priority when they really shouldn’t.
The world we live in today is designed for quick skimming rather than deep diving. It can take people some time to identify specific changes that help them skyrocket their reading rate. I wouldn’t say I’m the fastest reader, but I’m always looking to improve on that to fit more books in.
I have compiled together 8 ways to read a lot more books that I have implemented into my everyday lifestyle.
Concentrate On Reading In Your Home
In 1998, psychologist Roy Baumeister and his colleagues put together their famous “Chocolate chip cookie and radish” experiment. In the experiment, they split test subjects into three groups and asked them not to eat anything for three hours before the experiment. Group 1 was given chocolate chip cookies and radishes and were told they could eat only the radishes. Group 2 was given chocolate chip cookies and radishes and were told they could eat anything they liked. Group 3 was given no food at all. Afterwards, the researchers had all three groups attempt to solve an impossible puzzle, to see how long they would last. It’s not surprising that group 1, those who had spent all their willpower staying away from the cookies, caved the soonest.
What does this have to do with reading? I think, having a TV in your main living room as a plate of chocolate chip cookies. So many delicious TV shows tempt us, reducing our willpower to tackle the books.
Roald Dahl’s poem “Television”, says it all,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in it’s place,
You can install,
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.”
Beginning of last year, I removed my TV from the main room and replaced it with a bookshelf. Now with the TV out of the room, the bookshelf becomes the focal point. Rather than having any distractions about what’s on TV, instead, I pick up a book and start reading in silence. I have also noticed that my days have become more productive, as I am not glued to the couch watching TV, instead I’m tackling chores, hobbies and any other activities I’ve always longed to do, for instance learning the guitar and keyboard.
Make A Public Commitment
Robert Cialdini, in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, shares his study on that once people place their bets at the racetrack, they are much more confident about their horse’s chances than they were just before laying down the bet. He goes on to explain how commitment is one of the big six weapons of social influence. So why can’t we think of ourselves as the racehorses? Make the bet on reading by opening an account on Goodreads, and friending a few friends or coworkers, and then updating your profile every time you read a book. Or create a list of books you want to read and send that list to a friend that loves to read as well and try to work out between you what books you both would like to read. This is a great way to be committed to reading, and once you have read the book, you can discuss it with your friend. I do this a few times a year, with a close friend who lives miles away. Ideal for keeping in touch.
Find A Few Trusted, Curated Lists
Roughly, the publishing industry puts out more than 50,000 books a year. Think about it, do you have time to plunge through 1,000 new books a week? I don’t! I don think anybody does, so we use things like Amazon reviews. But, is it wise to get our reading lists from retailers? If you’re like me, you probably scour the internet at subjects that interest or stimulates your mind, and create our own booklist based on what you find. I have even found trusted, curated lists from people I admire like Bill Gates reading list, and Stephen Hawking’s reading list.
Never Quit A Book, Always Complete It.
It’s one thing to quit a book and feel bad about it. Its another to quit a book and feel proud of it. It’s all to do with your mindset and something you need to master to overcome the habit of quitting books halfway through. Even if I’ve hated a book that I’ve started or just have no interest in reading it, rather than quitting, I find that it pushes me even harder to read more of the book and get it over and done with. I’d rather have the habit of finishing a book than have the habit of quitting books.
I’ve known some people who have a routine were they quit a book for every three or four books they have read. I’m not saying that’s a bad habit to have, in fact, its a lot better than just quitting for the sake of it. Why not try reading ‘the first five pages ‘ of a book before you buy it. Something like a trial read, to help you check out the tone, pace and language of the book.
Stop The Subscriptions and Channel Your Money Into Better Readings
Back in the day, I use to buy all sorts of magazines and subscriptions to catch up on the latest news. After a while I started realizing that reading these short, choppier types of reading materials were stopping me from enhancing my knowledge through reading deeper, thoughtful content, books to make me think and self improve. Because of this realisation, I cancelled and stopped all my reading materials accept one “The Sky At Night”. I am an amateur astronomer and have a huge interest in space, so this subscription for me helps me to stay up to date with my interest. Also, I enjoy receiving a magazine each month, it slightly breaks up my in-depth reading for a day or two. Plus, I saved a fair bit of money, which went towards actual books I fancied reading during the year. Seriously… what would I rather have 10 or 20 years later? A prized book collection which I’ve read and learnt from over the years, or a pile of old newspapers and magazines?
Read Physcial Books
Even though I’m still a young soul, I have always prefered to read actual physical books rather than e-books on a mobile device. Yeah, reading e-books saves all the time in the world without much effort, compared to bringing books in and out of the house. But there is something passionate about having an organised growing collection of books in your home. In a way, you could represent it as a notable physical representation of the evolution and changes your mind has gone through while reading. Especially in an age where our movie, tv shows, and photography collections are all going digital. And because many of us in the world look at screens all day, it can be a grounding moment and change of pace when you’re holding something physical in your hands.
Every Second Can Be A Moment To Read
A while back there was a story I heard, or maybe read somewhere on the internet. That said Stephen King had advised people to read something like five hours a day. And that one of the writer’s friends said, “You know, that’s baloney. Who can do that?” And that a few years later he found his self in Maine on vacation. He was waiting in line outside a movie theatre with his girlfriend, and who was waiting in front of him? Stephen King himself. The friend stated that Stephen King’s nose was in a book the whole time he was waiting in line. And when they got into the theatre, he was still reading as the lights dimmed. When the lights came back up, straight away the book came back out. I’m not 100% sure on how true this story is, but to be honest, we can take a very positive message away from this. It simply implies that we can read a hell of a lot more and that there are times in our day, that minutes are wasted without us even knowing and that we can utilize them in a better way.
These days I read when I can as much as I can, I also carry a book with me when I go out of the house, just in case I’m on the bus or waiting for the bus. Or any other moments where I’ll have a few minutes hidden in the day to pick up a book and read. All these minutes add up, and in no time you’ll be finishing books in less time, than if you just dedicated an hour or two a day to just reading.