This year, I've taken the plunge to read a book every single week.
Over the past few years, I've stacked books on top of books (recommendations from podcast guests, friends, etc.), and it became a never-ending list.
As the books started stacking up, so did the excuses.
"I don't have enough time..."
"I can't read fast enough..."
"I'll do it next year..."
Like many of you, I had every legitimate excuse not to take on this challenge. I'm in the process of building a business, running a podcast, and allocating the sliver of free time I have into my health and social life.
Then I realized that the problem was not the number of books. It was something else.
If you asked me how I'm able to push out 3-5 blog posts a week, my immediate response would be that I have a system. We have a document with researched topics, headlines, and keywords, a content calendar, and a team that does the final edits.
If you want to lose 20 lbs, you'll also need a system that's designed for you. The same goes for growing your business, your financial net worth, and so on.
In other words, I had the goal of reading a book a week, but zero systems to back it up.
This is what I want to share with you today.
*Note: This is just my version of approaching the challenge. You can adjust based on how you normally absorb information, your schedule, and how many books you want to read. I should emphasize that the purpose of sharing this is not to have you read 50+ books, but to develop the system that enables you to read more in less time.
My 5-step system
1. Picking 1-3 areas that you want to optimize
You can decide to go deep in one topic, and just read books on business, or just on health. Personally my ADHD will drive me nuts, but whatever floats your boat!
2. Gather a list of books
Browse through Amazon, take some of my suggestions below -- do whatever you need to get as many recommendations as possible. Make sure it's from a diversified circle of people or source, so you can get a diversified group of books. Try to aim for 70-80 books if you can (we'll explain below)
3. Categorize them into 1-3 areas
If you have more than 2+ topics, you can either:
- Read 4 books a month on one topic, then 4 books on the next. Or...
- Diversify by reading books on each topic every month (this is my approach)
Have a free for all section
This gives you the freedom to either choose a book that is not related to the topics you chose, or read another book around your chosen topic. For me, these are topics around psychology, philosophy, relationships, history, fiction books, and more.
4. Prioritize the order of books you want to read
What usually works for me is to select topics that I can immediately apply in my life. Otherwise, you feel forced to read something that's not directly applicable.
Another tip to keep in mind is to do some back research on the length of each book. For example, you wouldn't want to cram in multiple 400-page books in the span of a month. Unless you're a reading machine, then all the power to you! And last but not least...
5. Put the rest on your backlog
The backlog is there in case you run into a book that you lose interest in (which happens more often than you think). I've found that it's rarely a good idea to finish a book for the sake of finishing a book. If you're not enjoying the book, drop it and move on.
- Take the time to study the process of reading faster. If you're going to be reading 100,000's of words, taking a few minutes to increase your reading speed can save you a massive amount of time.
- Measure how fast you currently read using this free test.
- Check out these free resources (or research on your own) on how to read faster:
- Try repeating the test again, and practice until you see some improvements
- Audiobooks can speed up your 'reading' MUCH faster. If you can retain non-fiction books in audio format, then this option is highly recommended. Although for certain books that involve more visual representation (such as bodybuilding or nutrition books), I prefer reading them.
- Check out Audible or Audiobooks.com
- Even though I've resisted Kindle for awhile (I've always liked the tangible feeling of books), adopting it into my life has been huge. I no longer have to carry around books when I travel, and I can bring one tablet that contains all of my books.
- If you slip up and forget to read a book (which will happen), keep going. As I previously mentioned, the real purpose of the challenge is not to read 52 books in 52 weeks, it's to develop the habits, time management, and reading skills to read more books. As long as you end up reading more books than you normally would, you've already won.
Without further ado, here's my book-a-week reading list. Use and share it as freely as you please.
- Health: The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding : The Bible of Bodybuilding by Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Wealth: The Sales Acceleration Formula: Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to go from $0 to $100 Million Hardcover by
- Biography: Benjamin Franklin: An American Life Paperback by
- Free for all: Getting Everything You Can Out of Everything You've Got by Jay Abraham
- Health: The Bulletproof Diet: Lose up to a Pound a Day, Reclaim Energy and Focus, Upgrade Your Life Hardcover by
- Wealth: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by
- Biography: Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by
- Free for all: Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan by
- Health: The FastDiet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting by
- Wealth: Smart Pricing: How Google, Priceline, and Leading Businesses Use Pricing Innovation for Profitability by
- Biography: Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald's Mass Market Paperback - August 2, 2016
- Free for all: Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger, Expanded Third Edition Hardcover - 2005 by
- Health: Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime by
- Wealth:The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by
- Biography: Sam Walton: Made in America by Sam Walton
- Free for all: Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by
- Health: The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by
- Wealth: Who by Geoff Smart
- Biography: The Hiltons: The True Story of an American Dynasty by
- Free for all: Lying by Sam Harris
- Health: The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease Reprint Edition by
- Wealth: When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man by
- Biography: All Quiet on the Western Front by
- Free for all: The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by
- Health: The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by
- Wealth: How to Build a Real Estate Empire
- Biography: Victoria: The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by
- Free for all: Our Country's Presidents: All You Need to Know About the Presidents, From George Washington to Barack Obama by
- Health: The Men's Health Big Book of Food & Nutrition by Joel Weber
- Wealth: The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by
- Biography: The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
- Free for all: The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence by
- Health: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
- Wealth: Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by
- Biography: Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft by
- Free for all: The Complete Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage, Life of Greece, Caesar and Christ, Age of Faith, Renaissance, Age of Reason Begins, Age of Louis ... Revolution, Age of Napoleon, Reformation by
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