Rules for Reading More

I read some of these book reviews and takeaway posts at the marketing meetings at work. When I finished reading the latest one, someone asked me how I read so much. “Do you read a book a week?” I shared a quick tip, “It’s important to have about 7 books going at the same time to make sure you don’t get bored with any one book.”

This question kept popping into my mind as the week went on. Finally, I sat down and came up with a list of ways I push myself to read more to share with the marketing team.

Here’s my list of rules for reading more. First I’ll sum them up. Then I’ll list each one out and elaborate on why it made it onto this list. Here we go.

Rules for Reading More:

  1. Read at least 5-7 books at a time.
  2. Stick to the “10 pages or I’m out” rule.
  3. Diversify your reading collection.
  4. Go for a chapter then take a break.
  5. Set a timer and stick to it.

Read at least 5-7 books at a time.

That way you won’t get bored with any particularly boring chapter in a book. Here’s a list of the books I’m currently reading. Notice the mix of non-fiction and fiction:

Stick to the “10 pages or I’m out” rule.

Someone suggested that I read “Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner. It’s a book that I’ve heard a lot of great things about but I had never read it. So I borrowed it from the library. Then I started to read it. Very dry, very archaic, ultimately boring.

Never stick with a book that can’t hold your attention for the first 10 pages. If the writer didn’t invest enough effort to make the first 10 pages as compelling as possible, there’s a good chance he won’t have put in enough effort to keep your interest on page 100. Sorry Mr. Faulkner. No time.

Diversify your reading collection.

Do you love non-fiction books because you can apply their wisdom to your life? Get a compelling fiction book like “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline to balance it out. You want to give your brain a rest after it’s been too deep into the non-fiction books.

Video games are made up of really tough sections moderated by very easy sections to keep you playing. Think about reading like this. Do the heavy lifting, then switch up to tiny fiction weights to give your brain a rest and let your soul feast.

Go for a chapter then take a break.

There’s a famous book on writing called “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamont. The book gets its name from a story the author tells about her little brother in middle school. He needed to write a report on the 50 state birds.

He waits until the night before it’s due to start the paper and he’s miserable. Just as he’s about the give up, his dad gives him some simple advice, “Take it bird by bird.” In the same way, don’t look at the book as 300 pages, look at it as 30 chapters, broken up for you to take breaks between long stretches of reading.

Keep in mind that this is not a hard and fast rule. If you’re reading a chapter and just can’t make it, cut yourself some slack. Even if you read a single page it’s good enough. Don’t burn out with reading. Be kind to yourself.

Set a timer and stick to it.

Buddhist meditators set a timer for themselves sometimes. The timer isn’t set to tell them when the sitting is finished. No, it’s actually a more subtle maneuver.  They set the timer so that when they do the meditation they know that they owe the world nothing for this solid hour.

By setting a timer you don’t need to attend to anything else in the world. Everything can manage without your thinking and attention for 1 hour. In setting this timer, you are allowing yourself full access to the task at hand.

Finally, here’s the list again:

  1. Read at least 5-7 books at a time.
  2. Stick to the 10 pages or I’m out rule.
  3. Diversify your reading collection.
  4. Go for a chapter then take a break.
  5. Set a timer and stick to it.

I hope this list has helped you learn how to read more. It works for me. I’m always looking to add to this list so if you have any other tips that might help me out and contact me!

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Author: David Neely

Professional Software Developer. Technology and Web Coordinator at the University of Hawaii's Manoa Career Center.