If you’re reading this post it’s probably safe to assume you already see the value in reading. Whether or not you’re successful at it, you have an interest in reading more and building on your knowledge and expertise in a given subject area.
Now, I’m not talking about escapism books. Fantasy or fiction books. There’s Netflix if you’re looking for that (no offense fiction readers!).
I am talking specifically talking about non-fiction. I am talking about books that help you improve a given area of your life, whether that be your business, career, relationships, finances, parenthood, or anything else you aim to get better at.
The first thing you need to do in order to read more is to throw out the traditional rules of reading you are used to living by. So, what exactly does that look like?
1. Read MANY Books at Once
Traditionally, you have probably read every book you picked up from start to finish before ever starting another one.
That’s a very limiting approach to reading.
I suggest starting a book in every category you’re interested in.
Think of it like going to the fridge for a snack, if you only have fruit in there, what happens when you’re in the mood for something salty? You walk away without touching the fruit. Or best case you eat it, and you aren’t satisfied.
It’s the same with books.
You need readily available variety so you can read based on your mood, based on your issues, your concerns, your needs, your appetite.
If you are having a rough day with your spouse, you will want to pick your book on relationships. If you are having a particularly hard week at work, you will be more apt to digest a book on management or conflict resolution.
The idea is to choose books subject around focuses you are passionate about. So, when you are in the midst of a challenge you can read through a book ferociously and actually absorb it. You can put into action what you are reading because it’s real moment in time and feeling in that moment that you are addressing. I call this
last minute learning.
2. Don’t Read Cover to Cover
Just because you start a book doesn’t mean you have to finish it. That probably goes against everything you’ve ever been taught. But who cares?
If you read the first 20 pages and don’t like the taste or texture, move on. If you can’t connect to the subject matter, the writing style or the author, you won’t get digest it the same as if you did. You will not enjoy it, and you will not reach for it.
The same rule holds true if the current need of last-minute learning on a given subject (your appetite) has passed you by.
So, either shelf it or give it away to someone you know might find value in it.
Reading should be enjoyable. If it’s not sparking joy, don’t force yourself into it.
3. Hold Yourself Accountable
This is where social media becomes your friend. I started reading in my mid-30s. I would post pictures of the books I was reading as I first opened them and then again when I finished, showing my notes, highlights and dog ears. Proving to the world (and myself) that I was a reader. I enjoyed the accountability of giving my review of the book and it turns out, other people enjoyed it as well.
I made a name for myself as learner as people started seeking my advice when it came to new books to read. This was due to the social commitment I made by putting myself out there posting the books I was reading. It also made me accountable in the same way that posting social updates about a diet does. Our brains are wired to support us to become the person the world sees us as. So, if you start posting about books you are reading on social media, you will be more likely to stay committed because you want to be true to the image you are projecting.
For next level accountability, start a book club or join an existing one. When you are all reading the same book, you are going to be held accountable by your employees, peers or friends to keep up on your reading. Most of us adhere to and are influenced by deadlines. A book club should have a review set at a specific date, which will allow you to do the math on how many pages you need to read daily. This will help you with the regimen. Plus, you can challenge each other with questions about the reading material to ensure you’re actually getting something out of it.
4. Gamify Reading
Again, I know what you’re thinking. Reading isn’t really meant to be fun. But there are ways to make it game-like.
If you commit to reading 5 pages a day, you can start to build upon that. See how many days in a row you can stick to it. Then move to 10 a day, then a chapter. Challenge yourself to see just how long you can keep it going. The more days you get in a row, then less likely you will be to “break the chain”. You will feel a strong desire to not lose your streak. Use a physical calendar if you like to track this. I prefer an app called Momentum.
The books you read will become like your trophies. Once you “win” and finish a book you can add it to your growing library. I don’t loan books and I don’t give books away. I keep all of my books as a reminder of how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned along the way.
For me, reading is about more than just checking a book off a list. It’s all about improvement. If I can’t digest and grow from a book, what was the point?
As a high achiever, I used to put pressure on myself to suffer through books even if I wasn’t getting anything out of it. Now, I’ve learned to throw those preconceived ideas out the window.
I read books that are related to things I’m passionate about – my mental well-being, my family, my leadership abilities, my journey as an entrepreneur, my relationships, my fitness, my company and my employees.
About A.C. Evans:
AC Evans is the CEO and Co-Founder of Drips. Since the early age of 16, A.C. has been an entrepreneur. His passion for ‘scaling the unscalable’ has led him to be a driving force of innovation and he was recently named as one of the top 40 marketers under the age of 40 for 2019. He is a thought leader in the conversational marketing® space and continues to share his journey as CEO of a growing start-up.