There’s something that I need to get off my chest.
When I was younger, I remember learning to read at an incredibly quick pace. I learned to read and read my first book in one sitting (it was about a big, friendly dog). From then on, I could always be found at the library and consuming books like they were going out of style. My bookshelves were stacked!
Then suddenly, without me ever realizing it, the internet came along and all of my reading became online. Websites, blogs, comics, articles, science, tech, fitness, medical journals, long form, short form, troll form, short form, magazines, white papers, courses… You name it, I’ve read it. This has given me such a vast base of knowledge and expertise on so many subjects that have helped me achieve and be known to my friends as “the human Google”, and less lovingly, a know-it-all. True. I’ll take it.
I don’t just read. I devour.
I went through high school, university, and post-grad not reading a single book. My textbooks were all in supreme condition. I just threw them out… not even a crease in any of them. I learned through lectures, seminars, group work, and passed with flying colours.
I’d visit bookstores and buy books with all intent of reading them. “This is the one that will get me back into my habit!” This also translated into a jam-packed Kindle, too; one that I used once. I even own/owned an Audible subscription, and I have never even finished a book on it.
And sure I would read, but it would not be my first reaction. Every book I picked up, I would put down 2 chapters in.
I own 5 copies of Think & Grow Rich (two digital, two physical unabridged prints, one audiobook), and have bought another 4 as gifts and have preached it to everyone I meet! I love that book! I can see it truly helping others apply the Law of Attraction as it gives concrete steps to manifest, not some play-the-lottery-and-win-a-Ferrari type shit. Within my own life I have learned about the principles of Think & Grow Rich before it was ever presented to me in a book. But with all these gifts and nonstop praise I’d give about the book, guess what? I’ve never finished it (though I’ve read 3/4 of it 3 times). (Update: finished 🙂 )
I was ashamed of my lack of book reading. My dirty little secret that I kept hidden for so long.
As the internet got bigger, I’m finding the content is getting worse and worse. Bloggers are paid to churn out content. All the dumbness and masters are all on the same playing field, with quantity beating out quality. Everything has become and introduction to another material. Everything is a presell. Everything is bite-sized. Get a thought out in one sentence. Create traffic in 140 characters. Hell, people are even using Facebook to post their ‘findings’ and ‘coaching secrets’ (but that’s another topic/rant for another day.)
Maybe you can tell that by the way I’m writing, my brain has actually become wired to net-speak. Short, quick sentences created to make an impact.
That was the realization I needed to finally change. My short-attention span is directly attributed to the countless hours I spent on the internet, working, researching, or plain old goofing around. My girlfriend put a book in my hands (The E-Myth) and I realized why I couldn’t ever read a book. I realized my wrongs and want to share that with you, in hopes it will inspire you to pick up, and finish, a book.
1) A book is an insight to someone’s head.
You get to deep-dive into their brain and learn what they know in detail that’s hard-to-find found online. These guys are supposed masters at their chosen topic, so it’s wise, and thrilling, to learn as a master thinks. With any luck, their perspective on the world will become a tool in your belt, ready to reframe every situation with a master’s touch.
2) Pick one book from an author.
Have you ever been on Amazon and seen that one author has 17 books on a single subject? Do you think that makes them a good writer? Nope. These authors are pumping out book after book of rewritten and repurposed material from them their original book. These guys are factories. Pick their best seller and move on.
3) Most non-fiction books are manuals and are mostly fluff.
Listen, I’m a straight shooter. I need to be told something once, not eight times in 8 different ways with so much filler words that the essence get’s lost. Most publishers put minimum page numbers or word counts on every chapter or book, so the authors only have one thing to say but need to pad the shit out of every chapter to reach this quota so they can get paid. Good examples of this are the E-Myth or Blink. The opposite of padding and fluff: Rework. With a-page-and-a-half chapters, this book is straight 21st-century business gold.
4) Don’t memorize.
You’re not going to be tested on everything you just read. Just read. That’s what matters. Don’t go back and reread sentences and paragraphs over and over hoping to get some piece of wisdom that you may have missed. Guess what? Monotonously combing through the material will not magically create a revolutionary piece of advice that you have missed.
5) Because of all the padding, it’s ok to skim.
In middle school, they taught us how to speed-read and increase comprehension, and I was always at the top of my class. But because 85% of non-fiction books are fluff, why waste 85% of your mental faculties reading repeated phrases and drivel? I’ve got better uses of my time than that. This is perhaps the biggest reason I always gave up on reading.
What I do now is skim line by line, eliminating my inner voice, until I stumble on a nugget of gold, roughly 1 nugget every 3 pages. Yea. That’s it. One or two sentences in every 3 pages are actually useful.
They’re easy to miss, but most books italicize or bold the important themes so you can just work around them. You’ll realize if you missed something important because the chapter won’t start making sense anymore (or because you brainfarted and started thinking about dinner). If that happens, just flip back a couple pages to where you lost it and start skimming again. Lo and behold, the lost treasure will be right in front of you.
6) Make goals.
Push yourself to complete a book in as little time as possible. Whether it’s read 50 pages a sitting, 25% per day, 10% a day, or a book a week, just make a goal and stick to it. Make it achievable and realistic. A 200 page book can be easily read in 4 days (50 pages or 25% a day), while doing 25% of Atlas Shrugged in a day (250+ pages) needs more time than I have to devote.
7) Keep things varied.
I’m a ferocious non-fiction reader, but I try to change up the topics. Business, organizing, history, business again, marketing, philosophy, I keep my brain active and engaged by reading a new topic every book. I’ll always come back to my staples (marketing and business), but reading new topics makes you see things in a new way, creating new neurons in your grey matter that will transcend and transmute any knowledge you can obtain from one single subject.
8) Creativity needs fuel.
To be a creative powerhouse and be the best possible version of yourself at any given time, you need to see things in different lenses and question everything. Books are a way to look into someones mind
My new years resolution was to read 52 books this year. I’m happy to say I’m already at 3 in 9 days and there’s no stopping me. I’m aiming for the full 52 in the remaining 25 weeks in 2015. 2 a week sounds pretty fucking achievable to me. Let’s do it!!
And without any further ado…. I present to you this masterpiece of trap culture: