How to read more books, and how to be smarter about it.

Karolina Fotyga Psychotherapy online
  •  

“How are you able to read so many books?”

Yes, I am a bookworm. I have been all my life. And since I keep getting this question in various conversations, I thought – I would write some more about it. 

First of all – just to be clear – I don’t think reading an extraordinary number of books is crucial. I believe what a lot of people mean when they ask “how do you read so much?” is actually – “how do I read consistently, how do I do it smarter and how do I use what I read better”. And there is a set of simple answers, but – yes – they all require commitment and consistency.

Why read at all?

We all know reading has been proven to enhance our brains. To save you all the neuro lingo – imagine our brains are like muscles. Whatever muscles we train – they gets better, stronger, and more efficient. When we read – we train our minds to slow down, to focus, to imagine, to wait for the gratification that is not immediate. It’s not like with the movie that we watch – beginning to end – and within 1,5 hours, we get our prize, which is the feeling of accomplishment that we finished something. Reading requires some kind of system. It’s all about being intentional in making time – also in our minds – to focus on those pages before you.

Intentionality

We live in a world where absolutely everything has been already written about, there are countless books on each possible topic. I read yesterday that about 80% of Americans would like to write a book. Wow. I’m not sure about the exact methodology of this research, though;) Anyway – everyone and their mother writes books nowadays. It’s not complicated from the technical/logistic point of view. Especially when you self publish. And while it’s brilliant and gives so many people amazing possibilities to express themselves and send their message out into the world – the quality of some of those publications is not the best.

Chances are you might have found yourself reading something you didn’t feel like finishing. And that’s where I’m going to. Whenever you think the book you picked up is not for you – either the topic or the writing or something else does not feel good – you have every right not to finish it. I know I’m preaching to the choir, but trust me – some people will force themselves to finish what they started even if they feel nauseous even thinking about it. So don’t do it. That would be my numero uno.

And here’s the whole list:

  • Think before you commit. Think about why you want to read this book. Is it because somebody recommended it? Maybe it’s a ‘must-read’, or you need it for some project? Whatever the reason is – at least try to get the ‘taste’ of the book before you buy it. When you have it in your hands in the bookstore or you’re browsing the Amazon looking for an ebook or audiobook – just read/listen to a couple of pages. Make sure it’s written in a way that’s possible for you to digest. By the way – I’ve recently read a book by my favorite Marie Forleo – “Everything is figureoutable”. In it, she points out something that’s been dear to my heart for the longest time, and that is:

    “don’t fall into the trap – I already know this”
    .

    It may be the case that you do know a lot on the subject, BUT – you may ask yourself – “If I’m applying it to my life? How can I use what I’ve learned?”. It’s a reversed way of thinking that leads to a simple conclusion: It’s not how many books you read – it’s what happens with what you’ve read.

  • When you’ve already purchased it – commit – even as little as ten pages a day. This is the best piece of advice I’d give to anyone who wants to read more. It’s simple math really – 10 pages x 365 days = 3650 pages. Assuming an ever age book is between 200 and 300 pages:


    By reading as little as ten pages a day, you will have read between 12 and 18 BOOKS a year (!).

    And if you’re more like me, it’s not possible to stop at ten pages anyway so the number goes up;) But even now – when you read it you probably said to yourself – “pff – that’s nothing! I can do it – easy”. The problem is, though – most of you won’t. At least not consistently. Why? Not because it’s too complicated, requiring too much effort. No. It’s because you won’t make it a priority. It is important to have a ritual that has to do with reading. So the next point is:

  • Make sure reading is your priority – try to make it a part of your everyday morning or/and evening ritual. Think about it this way. You never question brushing your teeth, right? (I hope!). Or taking a shower, or going grocery shopping. You do all those things automatically; because it’s the morning, or it’s the evening, or it’s a Friday. Reading can be part of your routine too. I know how it sounds. Every possible YouTuber has already done a video on “my morning routine”. But I encourage you to at least think about your routine – do you have one? An intentional one? One that’s tailored made exactly to fit your needs? If you think about adding those ten pages (or more!) to your morning tea or evening meditation – I promise you, by the end of the year, you will have read plenty.

  • When you feel what you’ve started is not for you – do not hesitate and ditch it. Just do it for your own sake, so that you eventually have time to read what feels right.

  • Make it yours. Make the book yours. Be it a kindle ebook, paperback, or even audiobook. Write on pages, bookmark, take notes, highlight, and do whatever you do – to make yourself remember why it was important for you.

  • Read again and practice. We are so forgetful. We forget all sorts of stuff – no matter if it’s the eggs we were supposed to get from the store, the new words we learned in German or going to the gym. We forget, resist and repress. We also wait for another Monday or January to start anew. And the most important ideas, the most beautiful pieces of our life puzzle, need to be practiced – not only known – to actually work. So it’s great that you’ve read the book on “French for beginners” – but no one would seriously expect you to speak French simply because you’ve read this book. You need to really understand it and then keep practicing for the longest hours. I know this is an exaggerated example, and it matters when we speak about books that are to teach you something. When you read prose though (I assume there is some reason for it too, right?), I’d follow most of the points from this article regardless.

  • Finally, my last tip is to choose the format that’s right for you. We are so fortunate we live in times where we can read books however we feel like. We can get a hardcopy, we can order an ebook or audiobook. Some people will only learn and will be able to focus when they listen to the text. If you’re one of them – listen to your books – why make it harder when you can simplify your life? Others, on the other hand – would never go for anything other than a hardcopy. Let them do just that. Choose your format to make it possible and pleasant for you do do the reading.

I am all about essentialism. I don’t particularly appreciate doing meaningless or repetitive things. And reading is no different. You do it because there’s a purpose for it. Don’t get me wrong; even reading a romance might be useful. Everything depends on what it is you’re looking for. I can’t remember when I read a romance book last, but if I felt like it, I wouldn’t hesitate for sure.

And that’s what I’d like to encourage you to do. YOU are the person who’s choosing why and, therefore, what to read. Just do it – choose based on your needs and commit to it.  By the way – have you ever had the problem of finding the time to watch your fav Netflix series? I mean – really? I thought so;) And you know what the difference is? You actually WANT to watch the friggin’ series. And if you have the same motivation to get your hands on the book, you will always find the time.

As a little behind the scenes, I’ll share with you my reading ritual, that has worked for me for the longest time:

My reading ritual

Each morning when I get up and after I have brewed my tea, I will get the book I’m currently reading, and I’ll sit with it in silence – not doing anything else just reading it and drinking hot green tea for about 30 minutes to maybe an hour. I don’t necessarily measure time – I try to read a chapter or two. Sometimes it’s 20 pages – sometimes 124. I’ll then continue with my morning – meditation, journaling, and so on. And for the last month – I haven’t been using any screen in the morning. For at least an hour – possibly longer.

If the book is ultra interesting, I’ll go back to it for a couple of minutes before going to sleep.

Throughout the day – whenever I’m on my bike running my errands, I’ll listen to an audiobook or a podcast. Usually, it’s a book. They can have between 3 and 16 hours of total time, so it will take me between 4 days and two weeks of regular bike rides to finish one up. Combined with the morning/evening read it gives me amazing possibilities to read however many books I crave:)

●●●

This is it. I hope you’ve found some useful tips on how to read more. If you have any ideas on reading or maybe you’ve read something brilliant – do share it in the comments:)

recommended read:


  •  
  •  
    1
    Share
  • 1
  •  
  •  
  •