People often ask each other how they manage to read more, and claim that they are ‘just not readers’. You may only read one book a year, and not understand how people find the time to read more. Certainly I used to read only one book a year growing up, and used to find it impossible to find the time to get through any more. But as I started to read more, I found it an enriching activity, and the more I read, the more I wanted to know. Somehow, even though I used to not understand how people could find the time to read, because I found it an enjoyable activity, I found ways to read more, sometimes without even thinking about it. Here a few things you can experiment with to try to increase the amount you read:
1. Find Books that Engage Your interests.
There are books written about pretty much anything, from playing chess, to violence, to travel and adventure. As a human being you have interests, so one sure way is to increase how much you read is to find books that talk about your interests. Amazon is a great resource for this – just search for your interest under the books section on amazon, and look for those that are highly rated. Read the reviews, and pick something that excites you and engages your interests.
2. Make Reading Part of Your Routine.
Just as watching telly before bed may be part of your routine, or calling one of your friends or family, you can make reading part of your daily routine. Try reading on your commute, during your lunch hour, when you get up or go to bed. Remember it is part of your leisure time, so make sure you are comfortable with a nice cup of tea or coffee, and read something you enjoy.
3. Keep Reading Material in Accessible Places Where You Often Find Yourself During a Spare Moment
Always carry your book with you in case you are bored in waiting areas, or in a queue. Place books in locations you frequent around your house, such as next to the toilet (!!), in the kitchen on top of your microwave and next to your bed. Have a kindle app on your phone and access it before you lock your screen, so this automatically shows when you unlock it.
4. Borrow Books and Get Book Recommendations from Friends
Ask for book recommendations from friends, and be liberal with recommended, lending and giving books to people. Discuss the book with friends after – sharing books can be a great way to create conversation and connect with people.
5. Make at Least One in Every Three Books You Read, Something That People Have Reported to be Life Changing
There are many books you can read that are going to help you to become successful and enrich your life, or change the way you view the world. Make at least one in every three books you read one of these. A self help book about business, social life, happiness, health or wealth is a good place to start if you can’t think of anything. Alternatively, here is a good place to start.
6. Set Yourself a Reading Target
Give yourself a reading target, but don’t make it all new years resolutiony – ie a block of time that you have to grind through a chore-like goal, and if you don’t keep it up for a few weeks you completely give up. Years are just a way of dividing up this continuous measurement we call time. And one of the only certainties in life? You are going to move forward through time.
So set yourself a realistic goal to hit. And if you don’t hit it? Just move the goalposts. Set yourself a new target. Just like you would in life. And if you hit it early? Guess what? You can cross that off the list, and start a new one, if it’s something which you feel has been beneficial to you.
Setting yourself a reading target will help you because it gives you a goal to strive for. If you don’t read much, then a book a month for 12 months is a great goal to try to hit.
7. Have an Open Mind
Recently, I read a book called ‘The Prince’ by Machiavelli. It’s a very famous work of political theory – it essentially tells you how to be a dictator. Around a third of the way through, I felt disgusted by some of the principles, and was ready to tear it up, throw it out of the window, burn it, and stamp on it. However I kept trucking with it, and guess what I realised? Even though I hated the book, I could still LEARN something from it, which was ultimately why I was reading it. Although I would call some of the principles in the book evil, or more specifically ‘principles that aren’t going to work for society in the long run, and end up being worse for everybody, even the one imposing them’, ultimately I was glad I stuck with it. Because from reading it I learnt about principles other people may follow, and learnt to think about things from somebody else’s point of view. This reminded me to approach a book with a more open mind in the future, and stick with it, even if it didn’t immediately grab me. From this I learnt, it’s good to read through something which disagrees with your principles, and this challenges your point of view as it reminds you to keep an open mind.
8. Experiment with Speed Reading
If you are stuck on a book, try to skim through it, rather than getting stuck re-reading a section you don’t understand. As Francis Bacon said, ‘some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested’. Just because you are not enjoying this part of the book, try to plough through it even if you don’t understand it, scan and read over it, and you can slow down if you get to a more meaty juicy part of the text. In the book ‘How to Read a Book’ by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren, they say, ‘Every book should be read no more slowly than it deserves, and no more quickly than you can read it with satisfaction and comprehension.’ This is a good reminder to keep to mind to experiment with reading at different speeds. There is a great guide to speed reading here.
What have you found is the best habits to have to increase your reading?
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