This month I received the following reader’s question: Hello Lisanne, you’ve published over 30 book recommendations and I truly wonder where you find the time to read. I can’t find the time to read as many books as I’d like, and I guess my question is, how to read more books?
Thank you for your question. While I love reading books ever since I can remember, making time to read is something that still doesn’t feel urgent to me. The normal hustle and bustle of the day demand a lot of us, and frankly, unless we prioritize reading, it’s unlikely that reading will ever make it to the top of my to-do list.
When I started to read the book Educated, it grabbed me from the first sentence and didn’t let go of me until I had read the last page of the book. Some books have that magical effect that you want to read obsessively to the end.
When Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone came out I had a similar experience as a child, reading it non-stop and eventually finishing it in two days. When my parents went to bed I waited for their lights to go out, turned my own light back on, and continued reading. Sometimes I got caught by my mom who went to the toilet in the middle of the night, knocking my door in a way as if she already expected me to be awake.
Sometimes books can surprise and delight the way the above books did, but more often than not, I find myself attracted to a book long before I’ve picked it up. In the case of Educated, I was highly fascinated by how a person that grows up in isolation shows up to this world and perceives the culture that we’re so used to through their lens. It made me excited to read the book.
Therefore, having a specific excitement or expectation for the book helps in getting yourself started. That’s why I like to hunt for stories or listen to other people’s book recommendations to figure out what to read next. The process of picking up and selecting a book is quite fun, which not only makes me excited to start reading but also more likely to finish the book. It’s helpful if you can have some clarity on why you want to read the book in the first place. Find something that peeks your interest.
Another question you can ask yourself is why reading is important to you. For example, reading is not only one of my biggest joys but ultimately, exploring other people’s work helps me to improve my craft. So maybe you want to master your craft too, find some time away from your screen, or it’s the kind of relaxation that you won’t find somewhere else. Whatever it is, as soon as you know how reading is going to positively impact your life, then making time to read becomes much easier.
Once you’ve figured out what‘s your motivation behind it, then adopting a clear reading habit could be valuable too. Warren Buffett, the man commonly referred to as the greatest investor of the 20th century, estimates that 80 percent of his working hours are spent reading or thinking. As a response to a question from a student of Colombia University on his thoughts on the best way to prepare for an investing career, he answered once: “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” 1
This, of course, can only be done if reading is made a priority and we find the obstacles that hold us back from doing. Most people spend the first hour of the day getting dressed, getting ready, and rushing out the door. Many of us spend the last hour of the day watching Netflix before going to bed, or we scroll our phones during lunchtime. But that same time could also be spent making ourselves feel better. What if you woke up an hour before your life turns into a whirlwind of activity, and read a book that will make you feel better.
Unfortunately, there is no quick, actionable advice that works for everyone, but I’m sure you can find 30 minutes of your day. And while reading 500 pages is incredibly intimidating, reading 20, or 30 pages might be an effort that is just small enough to fit into your busy schedule.
And even 10 pages a day can make a difference. There is this story of a woman that shows up at the gym every day. Takes a coffee, scans the room, and leaves. For two weeks straight she does this every day until the gym owner asks her why she never uses the sports equipment when she arrives. She shares that showing up to the gym, and proactively making time for it, makes it easier for her to show up the next day.
In other words, the more we make time in our day for things that are important to us, even if it’s small, the more likely we continue the act. I hope my answer can help you find the time to read.
Looking for good books to read? On my bookshelf you can find all of my book recommendations across a wide range of categories. Here are a few of the best books to start with…
For every recommended book you can now leave your thoughts via a book rating or book review. Not only will you have fellow book lovers holding you accountable to read more, but you’ll also be a part of this community that makes finishing a book a priority. The discussions about the book can expand your mind and perspective.
- Investors earn handsome paychecks by handling Buffett’s business by Steve Jordon, Omaha World-Herald
Thank you for reading. This reader’s question is part of the Ask Me Anything series. I´d love to answer more of your interesting questions and get a sense of your interests. If you have questions to extend this Ask Me Anything section, please let me know. I like to hear from you. Send me your question via [email protected]
Here is a list of the last 3 readers’ questions I’ve answered:
- #25 reader question: An odd habit of mine
- #24 reader question: Feelings of home
- #23 reader question: The most underrated virtue
» Explore more answers to readers’ questions
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