How to Read More

How to Read More

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Nic Acton
·May 8, 2022·

5 min read

In 2021, I read 7 books. As of May 5 in 2022, I have read 25 books and I'm on track to read over 70 by the end of the year. Here's how I've completely re-worked my reading habit.

Be Inspired

The Youtube channel "Answer in Progress" had a fantastic video entitled "why you stopped reading" that really resonated with me. Sabrina, the host, talks about how she used to a be a prolific reader when she was younger, what factors might have caused her to significantly reduce her reading, and runs an experiment of reading 5 books over 5 days with 5 methods to reignite the habit. It's a well-produced watch I recommend for everyone.

This video from videographer/storyteller Max Joseph provides excellent perspective and a little bit of a scare on why you should read more as well.

Make the Decision

The Goodreads 2022 Reading Challenge was my initial decision. Goodreads suggested a goal of getting through 15 books by the end of 2022, which I actually thought was going to be a challenge. I have since set a new challenge to complete 70 books by the end of 2022. You can do this challenge or a similar but I think it's important to set a direction you would like to head in.

Train the Muscle

Fun fact: I spent about 2 years of my life training closely with a bodybuilding coach to lose approximately 80 pounds of fat and double all of my maximum lifts. I learned that when it comes to building a muscle you can get a fantastic coach and follow the greatest gym plan in the world, but at the end of the day the size of the muscle is going to depend on repetitions performed many times over many weeks.

Attempting to increase my reading has been much like a training a muscle to me. Initially, getting through that first book of 2022 involves a lot of strong decisions such as "I am going to get through 30 pages today even if I have to do it right before bed."

Soon, much like going to the gym, it will become second nature. You will start to feel uncomfortable on the rare days you cannot get your 100 pages in. You might even find yourself bingeing entire books in the span of just a couple of days like I began doing fairly consistently.

For example, my reading trends so far for 2022:

  • January: 1 Book
  • February: 4 Books
  • March: 8 Books
  • April: 10 Books
  • May: 2 Books (as of May 7)

Read Good Books

There's nothing that stops your progress like trying to trudge through a book you hate. I've converged on a kind of "Bloom's Taxonomy" but for finding a good book you will actually enjoy:

  1. Recommendations from friends/family/co-workers that know you well.
  2. Recommendations from educated strangers online. The r/suggestmeabook subreddit is an incredible place to either ask a community or browse through old threads.
  3. Recommendations from librarians or bookshop owners.
  4. Books that are popular and/or have very high ratings on Goodreads.
  5. Books that just look interesting while you're perusing.

Do not be afraid to give up on a book. My general rule is to shoot for 10% of the book, but if it doesn't draw you in then quit. There will likely be an opportunity to re-approach the book if it's truly worth a read. Several times I mentioned to a friend that I quit a book and they said "oh, trust me it gets really good about halfway through." I picked it back up and they are usually correct.

Physical for Fiction, Kindle for Nonfiction

As you read, you'll start to converge on your systems that you do and don't like. Here are a few that have worked for me and may save you a few experiments:

  • For fiction books, I will usually try to grab a hardcover or softcover from the library or a local bookshop. It's not significantly better than a Kindle version of the book but I do slightly prefer it.
  • For large, non-fiction, I will usually try to grab an ebook copy. The reason is that these books often use footnotes and endnotes which you can quickly read by clicking on them. If the note is in the end of the book then you will be constantly flipping back and forth to the back of the book to ensure you get all the context which is not an ideal reading experience. In addition, non-fiction books usually have several passages and statistics you want to remember and with Kindle you can highlight passages to store in your notes and share to your Goodreads profile.
  • If you have long periods where you get an opportunity to read, I recommend borrowing both the audiobook AND the ebook or physical book. Either of the formats can be hard to pay attention to for long periods of time, but when you read the book while listening to the audiobook at about 2x speed you become a hyper-focused reading machine. Don't knock it until you try it.
  • Buy a Kindle when it goes on sale. If you don't like buying books from Jeff Bezos you can rest assured that you can you use it primarily to read ebooks from the library using the Libby App.

Record your Milestones

For just about every book I read, I now write a Goodreads review for it. I do this for two reasons:

  1. Depending on the size of the book (Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson was a behemoth), you might have just gone on quite a literary journey that took you longer than an entire season of a TV show to complete. It makes sense to reflect while the details are still fresh in your head.
  2. You'll be a great resource for future friends. I've had several situations where a friend told me they liked a book and when I asked why they would reply with "hm... I don't actually know, it was so long ago." I might take their word for it, but it's nice to have the additional context to discuss with them.

Send me a friend or follow request on Goodreads and I look forward to seeing what books you all read this year!

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My opinions are my own.