It's not news that reading more and better books will make you smarter. Basically every business icon you hear about regularly on this site, from Elon Musk to Bill Gates to Jeff Bezos, is a huge reader. And because 'read more' is such common advice, so are a bunch of obvious strategies to accelerate your reading.
If you're interested in the topic at all, you've probably been told by now that it's OK to give up on books you're not interested in to make space for titles you'll devour. Likewise, it's probably occurred to you to spend less time browsing social media and more time with books. Maybe you're even read about the advantages of having a stack of unread books lying around so you'll always have options to pick up when you finish your last book.
But what if you want to go beyond these entirely solid but pretty well circulated suggestions? Then a new HBR post from author and podcaster Neil Pasricha is for you. In it he offers a host of offbeat but effective ideas to get you reading even more. You're pretty much guaranteed not to have heard them before.
1. Make your phone less addictive.
A lot of very smart people have spent years working to make the device in your pocket as addictive as possible. But they aren't the only ones who have the power to engineer your environment to nudge you towards certain behaviors. You can take back your power and reverse engineer your phone to be less addictive, claims Pasricha.
"Move all of the apps off the main screen so it's blank when you open it. Leave your cracked screen cracked. Move your charger to the basement so it's an extra step in your low-resilience nighttime and morning moments. If you must have your phone in the room while you sleep, enable "Do Not Disturb" mode to automatically block calls and texts after 7 p.m.," he suggests.
2. Organize your books by the Dewey decimal system.
Remember back in elementary school when some librarian explained to you that non-fiction books are organized by subject according to the Dewey decimal system? A vague recollection is probably filed away in your brain. Dust it off and use it to organize your own library and you'll end up reading more (and more diverse) books, according to Pasricha.
"I spent one Saturday organizing my books according to the Dewey Decimal System and, in addition to scratching an incredibly deep organizational itch, I now find books faster, feel like my reading is more purposeful, and am more engaged in what I read, because I can sort of feel how it snaps into my brain," he reports. (Bill Gates and Elon Musk are also big proponents of making sure you understand how what you read fits in with your existing knowledge.)
All you need to follow Pasricha's lead is an online reference to give you the Dewey decimal numbers of your books, a pencil to note them on any books that don't have them, and an app to look up what the numbers mean if you're ever curious in the future.
3. Choose your next book via podcast or "BookTube."
OK, Pasricha is the host of a book recommendation podcast so he obviously isn't objective when it comes to this tip, but it's a solid idea nonetheless. Most of us get book ideas from friends, algorithms, or browsing bookstores. But all of those limit randomness by basing suggestions on what you already like or what the largest possible slice of the public might like. And when it comes to creativity and inspiration weird is good.
To get off the beaten path, Pasricha points readers to podcasts and "BookTubers." For podcasts he recommends What Should I Read Next? by Modern Mrs. Darcy and Get Booked by Amanda Nelson at BookRiot. As for BookTube, "some starter channels to get you hooked are Ariel Bissett and polandbananasBOOKS." (For weird and wonderful suggestions I'm also personally a huge fan of the site Five Books.)
Looking for more offbeat ideas to help you read more? Pasricha's post has six more great ones.