Speed reading is BS: here is how you read more books

First to the premise: speed reading is bullshit and it’s not the reason why people who read a lot of books can accomplish this important feat.

I say this is because I’m a slow reader and that’s for two reasons:

  1. I can’t speed read and often times, when I find myself reading a book or an article in a magazine along someone else, I’ll have to ask that person to wait before turning the page: I’m just that slow;
  2. If that wasn’t enough, I’m not a native English speaker — I’m Italian — however I do 90% of my readings in English which makes me a tad slower than if I was reading in Italian.

So how do I manage to read upwards of 50 books a year?

You need to commit to reading

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” William Styron

Reading a book must become second nature and not something you need to think about.
In the grand scheme of things I guess it should be placed after breathing and sleeping, and before eating.

Reading a book is the best way to enhance your mind and improve your life. It gives you an insight into another person’s life and next thing you know, you’ll be learning from the author’s experiences.

They say we only got one life, but when you read a book you’re learning from somebody else’s life (Click to tweet), thus it’s like living another life, except you’re only taking the meaningful bits.

Do you want to read more? Here’s how you do it: you just decide you’re going to do it!

Avoid reading mostly everything which isn’t a book

Another important thing to do if you want to read more books is to avoid reading other stuff.

By now, you should know I’m not a fan of reading the news. And while I like to read interesting articles here and there, I try to limit those to just a few.
While I’m browsing the Internet, I add articles which I might find interesting to my Instapaper and come back to those at a later date. I let those settle for a while and when I get to them I know after reading a couple of paragraphs, if they’re still relevant to me or not.

On top of this, try to avoid most social media as the plague. If you find yourself browsing your Facebook feed, stop it immediately, or next thing you know you’ll have watched two cats videos, one of a dog licking his owner’s feet, two music videos, seen a dozen horrible selfies and opened three or four tabs to read later.

Of course, I use social media, but I limit the people I follow, plus where possible I’ve hidden people whose posts I don’t find interesting. Still I very rarely randomly browse my feeds, probably less than twice a month.

I’m also subscribed to a few communities which are business related and relevant to me. And while I’d love to hang out there more often, I schedule my time there: one to three times a week (depending on the relevance of the community) I log in, go to the what’s new section, see if there’s anything interesting to me or something I could help with, quickly skim through those discussions and I’m done.

Read everywhere

As I said above, reading should become second nature. Each time you have a few minutes to spare, you should automatically reach for a book and start reading.

On the bus? Read! Waiting at the doctor? Read! Waiting for dinner to be ready? Read! Somebody’s late for a meeting? Read!

What is it that most people do instead? They reach for their phone and start either playing a video game, browse through their friends incredibly interesting posts, fiddle with new apps which will make them the most productive people in the world or write smart things on countless WhatsApp groups.
Terrible habit! A book would beat any of these activities hands down. And if you added up the time that you spend doing each of those meaningless activities every day, you’d be impressed to learn how many precious minutes, if not hours, you lost. FOREVER!

What I do instead is I always carry my Kindle with me and every time I have a spare second, I turn it on and start reading.
I have to admit that using a Kindle is a huge compromise, since I’d rather read a physical book instead for many reasons — better tactile experience, easier to take notes on the margins and much better to quickly browse — , however the Kindle is so much more convenient and the best thing is I don’t have to choose what I want to read which is a huge bonus especially when traveling.

Give up books which you don’t enjoy

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” Henry David Thoreau

One last tip: you haven’t got to finish every book you start. If you don’t like it, close it and start a new one. It’s that simple.

As much as reading is important, there’s no excuse for time wasted reading a bad book instead of a good one.

Don’t feel guilty, we’ve all been there: started a book and after 20–30 pages you realize it’s not for you. No biggie, just close it and pick up another book. There’s so many good books to read, that it’s not a big deal to discard a bad one.

A few books to start with

“Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.” Anonymous

Now is the time to start your reading journey. No excuses. So I’ll leave you with a list of books that are guaranteed to change you for the better in some ways: