Let’s say you want to learn guitar. Can you pick up a guitar and start playing? Yes, you can do that but you’re gonna suck at it and there’s a good chance that everyone in the room will run away!
But whenever we want to read, we pick up a book and read. We don’t consider reading as a “skill.”
That’s the wrong way to go about reading.
Reading is also like playing the guitar. It’s a skill that you need to “learn” and eventually you’re going to become a great reader. Just like a great guitarist.
The problem is nobody taught us “reading.” We had to learn on our own and this involved a lot of trial and error. After reading for years, here are my top 8 tips on getting the best out of your books.
You don’t have to finish a book
How many books do you think you will read in a year? Last year, after reading one hour every day, all I managed was 22 books. That’s not a lot. If you look at it, even though we like to read all the books in the world; it’s not gonna happen. So if you’re not feeling a book, give up immediately. Even though it’s recommended reading, if you don’t feel it, don’t waste time. Find a book that deserves your time. After all, the book is not the master. You are!
Stop keeping a score
Lately, reading has become a way to signal your status. The more books you read, the “higher” you are. Once you start comparing the number of books you read with someone else, this suddenly becomes a race. You’re not reading to learn something new, you’re reading to beat someone. Reading is not something that you start and finish. It’s something that you do for the rest of your life. Stop comparing with others. Go on your own journey.
Read what you love until you love reading
Imagine you’re getting started in reading. The first book you pick up is War and Peace by Tolstoy. That will be the end of your reading! You’re going to forever think that reading is not for you.
Start by reading what you love. Start with comic books or fiction that interests you. Go after what you’re excited about reading. It doesn’t have to be personal development books. Once you start reading what you love, eventually you’ll fall in love with reading. Then you’ll not be afraid of any book.
If you know someone who’s just getting started, recommend them something that would get them hooked.
You can read multiple books at a given time
I rotate between 4-5 books at any given time. Based on the time of the day and my mood, I change what I read. My mornings are dedicated strictly for learning so I read non-fiction from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. If I’m feeling low, I would re-read a chapter from a book like The Magic of Thinking Big just to get my spirits up. In the evening I read for leisure. Most of the time it’s a fiction or non-fiction that doesn’t require a lot of cognitive power.
Nobody has time for reading. They “make” time
“I want to read but I don’t have time.” This is one of the excuses I hear a lot. Last time I checked, nobody has time for reading. We are all busy. Those of us who read “make” time for reading.
Just like we “make” time for eating or shopping, we need to make time for reading. Otherwise, you’ll never find time for reading.
If it’s not in your calendar, that didn’t happen
You need to allocate time for reading like you allocate time for lunch. This has to be in your calendar. If not, no matter how much you promise yourself, you’re not going to read. You’ll postpone your reading for later and later becomes never. If you want to read, add that to your calendar.
It’s your book and you can do whatever you want with it
Our parents taught us to treat books as if they are sacred items from heaven. This stopped me from writing or underlining my books for a long time. But then I realized that my purpose in reading is to learn. Not to worship the book I read.
A book is meant to read but also to underline, to scribble notes on pages so that you remember and internalize what you learn from it. Otherwise, what’s the point of reading?
Maybe you are not ready for it, yet…
In 2014, I got myself a copy of Mastery by Robert Greene. This book came with high praise. After reading a couple of chapters, I gave up reading. The material didn’t connect with me. Last year, I decided to give it another shot and I finished within a couple of weeks. What changed from 2014 to 2017? Me!
In 2014, I was still an undergraduate, barely knew anything about the world. But now I have gathered some life experience and I was “ready” for that book.
For certain books, there’s a place and time in your life. If you’re not there yet, they may not make sense to you. If a highly recommended book doesn’t connect with you, maybe you’re not ready for it, yet…
That’s all I have for you. What do you do to get the best out of your reading?