Confess: How many books did you read last year?
Now, tell me: How many books do you wish to read this year?
Read more books – where we come from
Whenever I meet a particular friend, he tells me he should read more books. He is not alone.
A survey in America revealed that 81% do not read as much as they would like to, and 35% answered they wish they could read more – but for instance, do not have enough time (39%) or it is easier to do other things (22%).
That is quite sad.
Reading is probably the cheapest form of self-education you can have. All it requires is a few bucks and some time.
Did you ever hear about “Ramit’s book rule”? Here it is:
If you consider how much any half-way decent course, let alone professional degrees like an MBA costs you – including your time – that is a no-brainer!
The Oracle from Omaha, legendary investor Warren Buffett once answered this to a student who asked him how to prepare for an investment career:
“Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”Warren Buffet
He also famously said:
„I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.”Warren Buffett
He is not the only successful person reading a lot.
However, please do not get intimidated by the “CEOs read 4-5 books per month” myth! Somehow everyone is citing this, but I am not the only one having to find a reliable source.
The reality looks a little more like this, according to a Pew Research Center survey:
So, the differences are within a much smaller margin – no matter how you turn it.
Or, in other words: No stupid excuses!
If you want to read more books, here are my favorite and extremely simple tips about how to do that!
Read more books – with some easy changes
Why read books at all?
That is an excellent question.
If you do not have reason to read – why think about it at all?
You should not read more books because it is “expected” from you – it is a guarantee for failure!
I have several reasons why I read and why I want to read more than the 23 books I read in 2020 (and I started late to speed up):
- I enjoy reading! Sometimes it is that simple. That is even though about 85% of my books are non-fiction related!
- I learn new things. It may be deep insights into a specific topic from business to health or a whole new topic. Also, biographies of successful people are often incredibly insightful.
- I do research. Very often, I research my upcoming business activities and projects, whatever it might be.
- It makes me creative. I can feel my brain working when I read, a single sentence might spark a fire, and I make a note.
- It helps me with people. I have new topics to talk about and discuss, sometimes I understand others better.
- I can relax when reading. Whenever I sit down in our newly designed reading nook, preferably with some fresh coffee, I can switch off my mind and dive into a different world.
Additionally, science also sees some very valuable points!
I have made a summary from this great article in Healthline and it looks like this:
Make sure you know what your intention is to read or to read more!
Schedule, make it a habit
It is, unfortunately, very easy to get distracted. Your smartphone, Netflix, and so on.
It does not matter what you are reading – books, magazines, or long-format blog articles; you need to make sure you regularly read.
Make it a habit, such as you wash your hands after going to the bathroom!
Do not think about “one book per month” at this point. That is irrelevant and a stupid metric anyway.
Try to incorporate reading into your schedule.
Some people like to read in the morning – I do not, for example!
I like to block three hour-slot at one afternoon just to read – so my “worst-case” scenario is precisely this!
What you can do is to take away time from something less important.
Check your apps and figure out how much time you waste on social media. Does 30 minutes less of Netflix really hurt?
Read just 30 minutes a day
I know, we all have no time, and you are also probably super busy!
Apparently, that is not even untrue – at least according to this survey from Eurostat:
Wow! That does not really sound a lot!
It also states that “those who reported that they read books spent an average time reading ranging from 1 hour 1 minute per day in France to 1 hour 37 minutes in Hungary.”
A 2019 study compiling 190 studies with 17.887 participants reveals that the average silent reading rate for adults in English is
- 238 words per minute (wpm) for non-fiction
- 260 words per minute for fiction
So, let us take that average of 249 wpm and multiply it with – let us be nice – 10 minutes per day (or 1 hour 10 minutes a week!).
That would give us 2.490 words per day and 17.430 words per week.
Amazon data says the average book is 64.000 words long or short.
That means almost 3,7 weeks for one book – or roughly 14 books a year!
That is quite amazing. What do you think?
Sure, it is a rough estimate (but which fits the numbers in the introduction) and ignores certain things.
But now you should imagine what you can do if you are willing to “just” read 15 minutes a day – or even better, 30!
You do the math!
Have a book always available
Humans are lazy as hell. So am I.
If something is too much of an effort, I will probably delay it.
I start my mornings working as soon as I can – and I prepare the night before.
My clothes are ready. I wrote in my calendar what I would concretely work on (including links to material, if required) so that all I need to do is:
- Get up and drink a coffee
- Shower and dress
That is exactly what you can do to read more books!
Have a book where you can see it, for example, in your living room. Use the advantage of reading apps on your mobile devices and put them prominently on the home screen.
If the book is just an arm-length away, then you are more likely to “just start reading” it.
Read different types of books at the same time
A common misconception is that only super-scientific or sophisticated books are the ones that should be read.
Says who again?
There will be days where you can read page after page of an information-heavy, complicated science book – when the next day you feel more like an easy-going novel.
There is nothing wrong with that. Just read!
There is no difference between television or Netflix.
Sometimes a stupid, but entertaining popcorn flick is just about right.
I usually read about 2-3 books in parallel, and sometimes I even stop one book after half a page because it does not feel right today.
Then I switch over – thanks for my e-reader – and continue elsewhere.
Nothing is running away, and nobody is forcing me just to read one book at a time.
Skimming is okay
Attention everybody: This is not a test! This is not school!
Have you read a few books about the same topic? So, what does strike you?
Probably that a lot of the concepts are repeated in all the books. Which is… normal. Not every book is designed to re-invent the wheel. That is perfectly fine.
But if an author cannot add value to known, existing concepts – why bother reading it if you know the stuff already?
Just skim over that part!
This is especially relevant for non-fiction books of course.
The same applies to completely uninteresting stuff. Do you sometimes read a part or chapter of a book asking yourself: “Why the hell am I reading this?”
Sounds familiar – then skip it!
If you feel like you are anyway about to skip most of the book … then read my next advice!
My wife randomly starts reading in the middle of the book for about 10-20 pages – and if she does not like the book, she quits it. She might come back at some time, but at this point, that’s it!
I do the same, sort of. After I have the feeling, “I read enough” to judge the book, and it does not hold up – I quit.
It is not worth to waste my time on something that I do not enjoy, that does not make me smarter or has any other benefit.
„A lot of people feel locked in from the start. But the little phrase I try to keep in mind is ‚start more books, quit most of them, read the great ones twice‘. I think that a lot of readers would be well-served if they did that.“James Clear
Absolutely right! You read for yourself. This is not school where you are forced to suffer through a book because there is a test afterward!
If a book sucks – then you should just quit it and pick up the next one!
Use downtime to read more books
We all have it – some of us commute on public transport, other travel or wait for an appointment.
How are you using your time?
Are you texting with friends? Social Media?
So why not pick up a book instead and read a few pages. No one ever said you need to read a book top to bottom in one sit.
You could even read in the bathroom – greetings to Al Bundy!
Remember, you should have a book always in reach!
Have a cozy reading nook
Another thing you can do is – find yourself a nice place to read.
A place where you can sit comfortably, have enough light, and where you can read undisturbed.
Suppose your situation allows, design yourself a reading nook! We just did that, very basic but exactly what we need to sit there for hours and just read.
There is only a chaise lounge, a small table, and small stool. Add a proper light. This is all we need.
I can be happy we are not fighting over that place!
Many people want to read more but never actually do something about it.
But reading more books is easy to achieve. Consistency is the magic keyword, and all you need to do are some subtle changes.
No excuse counts – if you really want to read 20 or 30 books in one year, then there is no argument valid why not.
Do you have any other great tips that help you to read more books?