I get asked a lot is how I read so many books. Last year I read 60 books and am on pace for about the same this year. I’m not going to win any contests but it’s a pretty good pace for me. I’m a subscriber to the voracious input, focused output theory of productivity. A book a week gives me more than enough to chew on while doing some “real work.”
1. Schedule it – I have reading times on my calendar and treat them like appointments.I don’t schedule anything that conflicts unless it’s extremely urgent or important. The most effective times I’ve found for reading are just after waking up and before bed when it’s easy to block out time.
After lunch or as an afternoon break when running low on energy is perhaps the most effective time since I’m low on energy anyway but is harder to schedule. Interestingly, it’s not culturally acceptable to pull out a book in the middle of the office and read in the afternoon while refreshing your inbox repeatedly from 2-4pm is smiled upon.
I also get a lot of reading done while traveling since there’s downtime built in with layovers and checking in and out. I’m almost dreading when wifi becomes free and ubiquitous on flights.
2. Replace Blog Reading and Podcasts with Books – I love reading blogs and listening to podcasts, but I consume less of both than I ever have before. When I read short form content, I’m largely just looking for and reading things that confirm existing biases and paradigms. I’ve very rarely finished a blog article and had a paradigm shift.
When I finish books on the other hand, I feel that way all the time. Books tend to whisper, not talk.
3. Get an Audible subscription – I like to do my big biographies and histories on Audible since the narrative on audio is really enjoyable and a credit on Audible is good for any book. I get the 50 hour biographies for $15!
Audible has made me look forward to otherwise mundane tasks. I notice myself get excited by laundry, cooking, and commuting (by long walks whenever possible). I couldn’t wait to cook all my food for the week last weekend because it meant I got to spend two hours with Abraham Lincoln.
Audible is also ideal for travelling and long walks. I had a realization passing through Tokyo last year that I only like to do 3 things when visiting a new city: eat their food, meet people working on interesting projects, and take long walks while listening to audiobooks. I got through half of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich between Saigon and Memphis.
4. Quit More Books – In my experience, if it’s not good by 50 pages in, then it’s never going to rebound. It’s hard to quit books and this is something I’ve gotten better at very slowly overtime. By putting down books that you aren’t excited to read, you’ll get through a lot more of ones that you are.
5. Hang out with People that Read More and Feel the Social Pressure – It’s hard to hang out in person with people and read (since you’d both be reading…), so I tend to hang out with them on the internet. Shane Parrish, Dan Andrews, and Venkatesh Rao, are some of my biggest reading inspirations.
6. Track it – Anything measured improves. Since I started keeping a list of books I read, I started reading more. Having a To Read list as well puts pressure on you to put less than great books down because you can see what the opportunity cost is of what else you could be reading.
7. Love It – A lot of people try to read more because they think they should and that it’s a prerequisite for success. Gary Vaynerchuck hates reading and that seems to be working out ok for him. I tried to force myself to run for 3 years and never could. I hate running. I started lifting weights and I love it. It’s never hard for me to go to the gym anymore.
Largely the reason I read so much is because books have made a tremendous impact on my life and I love the experience of reading. So much so that I like to spend my Sunday mornings putting together a list of my favorite books and essays.
Did you like this essay?
I am giving away a free guide of the 8 strategies I use to read 60 books a year and 67 must-read books for entrepreneurs including the best books on finance, marketing, operations and more.
Download the guide here.