You Can Read 1 Book Per Week: 8 Methods

You can read smarter, faster, and get more out of books. I have read & listened to 70+ books during lockdown. You can too!

Anna Wikström
Wholistique

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Do you hear yourself say: “I wish I could read more” or “I should finish that book I started” or “I wish I was one of those people that reads a lot”?

I have used these tricks and habits to listened to 60 audiobooks and read 10 paper books in 2020 & 2021 so far!

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1. WHAT are you reading?

What type of book you want to learn from, be inspired by or experience a story in, determine if you should get it as an audiobook or a physical copy to read.

1Inspirational
Books that are meant to inspire you to take action often explain one concept in-depth and mostly fill the rest of the book with stories about how the method or philosophy was applied for other people and how it has changed their lives. I have found that this type of book is great to listen to while walking.

2 Information Heavy
A lot of details of a specific skill or technology works best when you can read a sentence again, underline it and go back to that page when needed. Many design and technical books are better to read than to listen to since it’s about numbers, and details you want to remember.

3 Story & Autobiographies
Audiobooks are also great for storybooks and autobiographies if you prefer this genre. Just follow along in a story with a great voice actor to immerse you even more in the world. But, before buying, check if you like the speaker’s voice because it can greatly affect your perception of the story.

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2. Audiobooks

I had listened to a few books on Audible before, but last year this really kicked into high gear for me. I get through books waaaaay faster when I listen to someone else tell me the story than it is for me to read it by myself, (I’m a slow reader). And the best thing is that I can do other things, (that are a bit boring and tedious) at the same time!

Pro Tips to Audible:

A) Speed up the audio

I usually put the speed at between 10–30% play speed, which means I get through long books much faster and I don’t get bored or annoyed if the person speaks too slow for my liking. Now when I’m used to the slightly higher speeds, I can’t imagine going back to the default.

B) Preview the audio

Listen to the preview of the audio before you buy the book! I have on occasion bought a book on Audible because I saw it on a “top-must-read” book list and bought it before I listened to check if the audio was even a good recording. Sometimes I have been met with a robotic voice, a bad recording or a speaker I got irritated by, which made me instantly regret my purchase. Luckily you can get a refund on Audible, but there are some limitations to it so it’s best to just check these basics before buying.

C) Wait for a sale

Audible has regular sales throughout the year where they have books on 50% sale! This is when I snag up books I have on my wishlist “I-want-to-read-at-some-point“. When a sale happens I try to buy books that are now under 7 pounds. Why 7 pounds?
The Audible subscription costs 7.99 per month and you get a ‘Credit’ from it that you can use to buy any book you want. So I use the ‘Credit’ to get more expensive books and buy other books when they are under 7.99, or close to it.

D) Long book / Short book

Some books have a lot of information and are a great value for your money. But after a while of getting through a list of books that are 6 to 8 hours long (some are a lot more), I start to feel a bit tired of it and I didn’t feel like diving into another long heavy book right after. It’s like jumping into another long tv show after just finishing one up. You just want to mix it up with a movie for a quick story that has a beginning-middle-end you can finish in one night and not stretch it out for weeks!
This is where the short books come in! Something you can finish on a weekend (or even just a day) while taking a long walk or doing chores! It will invigorate your listening, and it makes you feel good because of the feeling of satisfaction when completing a book.

E) Listen when doing boring chores

Bored while brushing & flossing your teeth? → Listen to a book!
Making morning coffee and getting dressed? → Listen to a book!
Is it tedious doing the dishes? → Listen to a book!
Just doing house chores like cleaning? → Listen to a book!

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3. Walk & Listen

This has been the single biggest thing that got me through the most books this year. I try to take a long walk of 1 hour every day after work. Especially now when I sit at home so much now when I (like probably you too) have been working from home. I needed to just move, get some fresh air and clear my head from all the screens I look at all day.

If you are commuting, driving, sitting on a bus, subway or train, that’s a perfect time to listen to some books! But if you are driving or walking by cars, please don’t get too distracted by the book! Furthermore, if you need to focus a lot on the traffic or other things you are less likely to remember what was said in the book.

Our brains are good at filtering out noise when we focus intently on something, but not good at focusing on 2 things that take up the same amount of cognitive space. So make sure to do something easy when listening to books.

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4. Read smarter

Do you just jump into an information-heavy book, only to find yourself losing interest, getting distracted, not remembering the last page you just read, or the best learnings when you finish a book?

Top tips:

A) Bookmark

Yes this one is not new, but there’s a lot of reasons why you will read faster if you use something to guide your eye to the correct row. Using a bookmark to follow the rows on the page will greatly increase your reading speed because it acts as a guide for your eyes so they don’t jump around too much to other words on the above & below rows. The eyes naturally wander, so help them out with a simple bookmark.

B) Draw in your book

Someone is probably screaming at me now.
I was the same before and I thought it was disrespectful to make marks in any book. But isn’t the purpose of a book for you to learn, be able to go back to your favourite parts, and easily find the best pieces of information that will help you in the future? I use colorful markers to highlight the best info and quotes that I especially liked, so when I go back to the book I can then find those parts so much easier. I also find myself searching for the best text that is worth marking, which helps me filter the information on the pages.
Find the golden pieces, filter out the filler text.

C) Hygge reading

Do you have trouble sitting down to read a for longer than 5 minuts?
Set up a cozy reading area and minimize distractions! Having your coffee ready, a snack, a cozy blanket, and good lighting. This is key to create a Hygge moment to make you able to focus on the book.
You will definitely read for longer if you make it a cozy time!

D) Summarise

Write down your best takeaways from the book to better remember what you learned. This can be taking notes on your phone while listening to an audiobook, post summaries on social media, or talk to a friend and tell them what the best learnings were. Or like what I have been doing; writing book summaries and key learnings to post here on Medium.
Go check them out! → https://bootcamp.uxdesign.cc/reviewing-4-more-popular-ux-design-books-fbb4140cb207

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5. Morning & Night routine

Identify the times in your day where you are just going through a routine. When something has become a habit it’s not very fun and interesting anymore. This is a great time for you to get into another chapter of whatever book you were reading/listening to. Decide if you are going to read 10 pages, a chapter, or for 15 min every morning. Get into a small habit that’s easy to do. The 15 to 20 minutes you have in the morning adds up quickly in completing a book through a week! Audiobook or a physical copy.

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6. Schedule Reading Time

Or, as I also want to call it: “Weekend-Morning-Reading-Time”.
This is the time when I set up a cozy area, make the coffee, have my water ready, grabs a blanket if it’s cold, and remove distracting electronics. I usually put on some low-fi music to have in the background. Yes, I go full-in as the character reading in the window or sitting in the grass with a picnic.

To keep a consistent reading pace I decide how much I will read each day. If you want to make sure you can read 1 or even 2 books per month; look at how many pages a book has, and decide how many you will read per day for you to finish the book within your timeframe. You will notice that you don’t need to read for hours every day to finish a book if you do a little bit every day! This can also be one chapter per day if you don’t want to stop reading in the middle of a good part.

Before 2020 I went to local cafes on the regular to have a coffee and a snack and I would read for hours. If you pick a cozy, (not too busy, café) This can get you into deep reading-mood. I’m eagerly looking forward to being able to sit outside in nature, reading in the sun when summer comes. Additionally, later when we can travel to new areas and sit at cafés again!

Action

Identify when it would be a good time for you to read. Schedule it and plan for it to be enjoyable.

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7. Stop Reading

Okay, let me elaborate; stop reading BAD & BORING BOOKS! If you are not liking the book when you are 1/4 way through it, STOP reading it! I know that we think we have a divine duty to read every page of every book we buy because we already spent the money. But why do we also need to spend our precious time too?

I did this too before but this slowed down my reading because I didn’t have the interest or drive to read or listen to any more of that book.

Now when this happens I drop it and pick up another book to find something better and more interesting than I actually want to read.

Pro Audible Tip

If you don’t like a book you can get a refund on Audible! I have done this multiple times on books, when I got bored, didn’t like the content or it wasn’t what I thought it would be about. (Book titles can be deceiving)

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8. Multiple Books

Sometimes reading about the same topic every day isn’t very exciting. Sure it’s a good book but you need some variety to get through the slow chapters to shake up different parts of your brain with a new point of view. So, having some different books to switch between will help big time!

You might be in the mood to read about design one day, but the next time that book about how to be a better speaker at work, or about sparking more joy and creativity. Don’t worry if it feels overwhelming when switching books in the beginning. Once you’ve read more books you will get used to switching between book and have your own strategy for it.
This will also help so you don’t stop reading for long periods. Just as with advice number 7, you need to find books you can’t wait to read more!

💙 Thank You for reading!

Now that you are (hopefully) inspired to read more, check out my reviews on some great design books to find your next book to test these reading methods out for yourself!

🐦 Follow me on Twitter for UX design & Video Game chats: https://twitter.com/ichianna

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Anna Wikström
Wholistique

Senior UX Game Designer at Hangar 13 (previously CA & DICE). I write about UX in Games and Review Books about Design, Career & Life.