How I read 16 books in 6 months using 5 simple steps
In January this year I reflected on 2017 and how quickly it flew by. One low point that stood out to me was the number of books I’d read; I felt that the time I had spent scrolling through social media and Netflix bingeing came at the price of not reading enough. I resolved to do better this year.
My reading goal for 2018 was to read at least two books a month; one fiction and one non-fiction totalling at least 12 books read by the end of the year. To my surprise I rounded off June tallying 16 books read so far. Wow. I did not expect that.
Just by changing a few behaviours I’ve been able to read so much more and in this article I’m going to share these steps with you. It’s easy to read more, being busy is not an excuse. I’m time poor, too. I work full time at Product Hunt, I run Hustle Crew delivering talks, training and mentoring and I’m working on the sequel to my first book, Dream Big. Hustle Hard. If I can do it, you can, too. Here are the simple steps:
1: Read the format you like best, and listen to the other
I’ve been a fiction fan since childhood. I can devour a novel in one sitting but tend to dip in and out of non-fictions, especially specialist subject matter ones. Less so with autobiographies or biographies. I believe its important to read both since we not only need to learn about history and the world around us but also develop our empathy and creativity. At the start of the year I decided to try audio books for specialist non-fiction to see if it would help me finish them quicker. It did. I still read autobiographical non-fiction and all novels in my preferred format of paperback or Kindle.
2: Invest in an audiobook provider like Audible
The price I pay for Audible is a wise investment in terms of the return I get on speed of completion, information and convenience. For £7.99 a month I get a free audiobook, access to a growing library and additional credits which let me buy the latest releases at a significant discount. It’s a no brainer. I’ve read 12 non-fictions compared to four fictions this year and it wouldn’t have been possible without the audio versions.
3: Listen at 1.5x speed, or even 2x if you can still make sense of it
Audible’s technology lets you speed up the pace of your reader. If you’ve never tried Audible before you’re probably reading this thinking I’m crazy but 1x speed is reaaaaaaaaally slow. Don’t get me wrong, I do sometimes use 1x speed, especially when the content gets heavy like it did in Homo Deus, but usually 1.5x speed is fine and even sometimes 2x. I tend to speak really fast anyway so it feels normal to me.
4: If you’re really feeling an author or theme, stick to that with the next title you read
I used to pick books based on recommendations or recent award winners. This year I took a different approach. I started off reading Maya Angelou’s autobiographies and liked them so much I just kept going reading them and read five in a row. I then decided to stay in the theme of black women writers and read Roxane Gay and Reni Eddo Lodge next. I devoured those, too. Think about what your interests are, or whose perspectives you want to read, and just get through as many of them as you can. It’s a very similar feeling to a Netflix-binge except you’re exercising your grey matter, too.
5: Create a reading routine
In 2018 I’ve created new routines in my life focused on the activities I want to do more. I have routines for workouts, running, meditation and even reading. My reading routine is to read at least one page in bed before I go to sleep — it usually ends up being many more. I also read whenever I’m commuting on the underground and I listen to audiobooks when I’m in the kitchen cooking. Introduce reading routines into your life — i.e. specific times before / during or after an activity devoted to reading — so that you can read more, too.
Those are my five steps that have helped me read more this year, I hope they help you reach your reading goals. You can also join our online Book Club at Product Hunt to stay accountable to your reading goals, click here to sign up.
My Reading List, January — June 2018
Below I’ve listed all the titles and formats of what I’ve read so far this year. There isn’t one on the list I would not recommend.
Roxane Gay, An Untamed State (Kindle edition)
Ottessa Moshfegh, Eileen (Kindle edition)
Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Kindle edition)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Thing Around Your Neck (Paperback)
Maya Angelou, Gather Together In My Name (Kindle edition)
Maya Angelou, Singin’ & Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas (Kindle edition)
Maya Angelou, The Heart Of A Woman (Kindle edition)
Maya Angelou, All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes (Kindle edition)
Maya Angelou, A Song Flung Up to Heaven (Kindle edition)
Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth (Paperback)
Poorna Bell, Chase the Rainbow (Kindle edition)
Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote (Audible edition)
Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus (Audible edition)
Reni Eddo-Lodge, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Audible edition)
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me (Audible edition)
Emma Gannon, Ctrl Alt Delete (Audible edition)