Ten and a half years ago, I decided to start reading a book a week. In ten years, I had read five hundred books. Right now, I'm on book five hundred and twenty-two. Reading books changes you. It creates empathy and gives purpose. It helps you see those in your own life more clearly. I'll share more about all of that in a follow up post. In this post, I want to answer a simple question I get asked constantly. How do you read so many books? People also want to know how to read any book at all.
Step One: Find a good book.
This seems simple. Sometimes we choose poorly in this area. It isn't to say we are poor at making choices. We simply have no idea what we actually enjoy. Think about it. What sorts of stories or ideas make you feel alive? Learning what you are most interested in and passionate about can not only shape your reading, but give you better quality of life. You won't be running around pursuing everything. You'll gravitate to the the things that set your heart aflame. I personally enjoy books on prayer, classic novels, and historical fiction best. I love people and their stories. I enjoy seeing God interact with people in their stories. What do you love? I say to start with a story. Story captivates more than learning material and we actually learn better from story.
Step Two: Decide how long you want to take to read it.
This is most helpful because deadlines help us craft our days. It will help you to schedule the time to read. One of our major problems is that we are incredibly distracted consuming life and not actually living it. We scroll mindlessly through every sort of social media feed and never achieve the things we hope to do. When you are on these things, don't just scroll. Interact. Encourage, love, pray. Be a good human. Now that you are a lovely human, make a deal with yourself to put it down for a set amount of time each day so that you can cultivate a beautiful inner life of your own. I read a book a week. That means I have seven days to get through generally 250 pages. I simply divide my pages by the number of days that I am reading. That's around 36 pages a day. Do you want to read a book a month? That is only 8.3 pages a day on average. Sounds simple. The thing is you have to commit to it. Put up your phone. Turn off the tv and read. Reward yourself with screen time at the end of your pages.
Step Three: Bring Supplies
I sit down with my journal, pens, and highlighters ready to glean something. I get much more out of it and retain much more when I am ready to learn. Highlighting, revisiting, and writing things out are great ways to help us remember what we read. It keeps us from getting to the end of the book and not having any idea what happened. I have read that we come to books for mere sentences. Story stirs us, but it will be two or three lines out of the thousands we read that will stick with us and shape us. Write those lines down.
Step Four: Create a Reward System
My reading time has become a reward itself, but I like to have some sort of a self high five when I finish a book. Honestly, it might be getting another book much of the time. Sometimes, it's a movie I never make time for (mom life) or coffee out. Sometimes it's permission to look through a magazine or something online. If you have trouble getting off of your phone, your phone can be a good way to train your brain to read. Use it as a reward for completing your daily task. I think you will soon see that you will want to read more.
Step Five: Don't Get Discouraged
I had a difficult time reading in the beginning. I suffered from major depression growing up and in my early twenties. Depression makes attention and comprehension quite difficult. It was a struggle to get through a whole book. Now, I read professionally and publishing companies bring me on to read and review their books. You are worth the effort. Be your number one encourager. You are worth the knowledge you will attain. Invest in you.
Step Six: Share What You Enjoy
I find myself snapping pics of pages and writing out words that speak to me. The more you share, the more you want to share. Be generous with your heart and mind. There is a world full of people that need the encouragement. You will find that people need exactly what you need, to see someone in front of them leading the way to an abundant life.
Let me know what you are reading. Maybe I will want to read it too.