I have managed to read an average of 2 books per month in 2016. Taking into consideration that this year I wrote my bachelor thesis, I have been working almost daily and I moved out of Denmark in October, I think 25 books is a decent number*.
Let me tell you 10 short ideas about reading and the way I do it.
1. Everyone can read a book a month
No excuses! If the CEO of Facebook can do it, you can do it too. Most of us waste at least 2 hours on social media. Even if you spend 2-3 hours a week to read, you can still finish 500 pages a month.
2. I don’t like asking people for book recommendations
We all love to give some recommendations. I know what to read, I don’t need any tips. However, I do look for suggestions by studying people who I admire and who read as well. For example, I’ve read almost every top recommendation from Mikael.
3. The more well-known a book, the least I like it
I usually hate best sellers. I feel like most of them are catered to the masses and do not have any practical information. This idea takes me to the next point:
4. I read only books with real life examples and tips
For some reason, I do not have the patience to read or watch fiction. It’s hard for me to enjoy or learn from something which is not real. I rarely consume something (articles / books / movies) for entertainment purposes.
5. Books are 10x more insightful than movies
Movies are full of drama and romanticism. Otherwise, nobody would watch them nowadays. Unfortunately, movies do not reflect reality. It is hard to include enough details in a movie in order to capture real life situations and feelings. Thus, movie directors go with what drives more emotion, not what is more real.
Although as an author you get commercial pressure as well from the publisher / editor, you still get more freedom to deliver your thoughts and to keep it real than a filmmaker.
6. The author reputation is as important as the book (maybe even more)
Walk the talk. If you write a book about public speaking, but you have no references or videos with your speeches, I see no value in your thoughts. If you write about how to make money, but you have no real business we know about or other proofs, I see no value in your thoughts.
We all know how to give advice, but if it doesn’t come from someone who applied it himself, it is pointless for us.
7. I try to get 2-3 ideas out of each book
Seth Godin said he only reads a book until he gets its main idea (typically the first 20 pages), because the rest is just an iteration of that idea.
I usually try to extract 2-3 main ideas from each reading.
Marcus Aurelius says that life is a river and that you can control how you react to external events / factors. Cal Newport explains the importance of practicing deep work in a world in which automatized processes and robotics will play an increasing role. Jim Rickards talks about the financial crisis coming upon and the dangers of negative interest rates.
8. I continue researching about those ideas after finishing a book
What I usually do is watch some interviews with the author or read summaries of that book. Thus, I get a more comprehensive understanding of the author and his/her views and ideas.
9. I read multiple books on the same topic (usually one after another)
I do this because I don’t want to switch between too many topics until I understand one clear enough. For example, this year I got interested in 3 topics:
The first one was Sales & Public Speaking, as I had to give some speeches and I needed some practical advice. Thus, I’ve read „How to talk so people listen”, „Secrets of closing the sale” and „The quick and easy way to effective speaking”. The authors lived in different periods and the books were written in completely different styles, but all gave real life examples and practical tips. Thus, I was able to select and apply the advice that I felt most comfortable with.
The second one was Stoicism. I started with „A guide to the good life” (a very nice introduction and synthesis of stoics’ lessons) and then continued with “Meditations” (I enjoyed it a lot) and “Letters” (although most people liked it, I found it very challenging to go through). All 3 books follow similar concepts, which helped me to get a basic understanding of stoicism. On top of this, I have read “A guide to rational living”, which had lots of practical advice as well, most of it stoic-related.
The third one was Economy. I have read “How an economy grows” and “The new case for gold”. I have read “Bull!” as well, which is not really on the same topic, but it has insightful info on how economic bubbles develop. The first 2 share similar views because both authors think a huge financial crisis is coming upon. I have watched interviews with them and I continued to study the topic by researching about the top investors / hedgefund managers view on the current economy. It is funny and strange that a lot of them have been saying for 1-2 years that SUA is in a bubble, yet the S&P just got to an all-time high of 2200 today.
10. I read new-released books
The reason I do it is because I want to follow the latest trends in business and tech. For example, “Chaos Monkeys” tells you about Facebook’s culture around 2014-2015, which I find somehow more relevant than reading what Jack Welch learned working for GE in the nineties.
Bonus: I read summaries
Besides the 25 books finished this year, I have read summaries of another 10. I usually do it for the books which I do not find interesting enough, yet I think it is still good to take some ideas from them. Thus, summaries are a good shortcut for books which do not make a “must-read list”.
*On the flip slide, I attended few events / parties this year and I haven’t watched more than 5 movies. I guess my priorities were messed at 21.