This Is How I Went From Reading No Books To Reading 50 Books Every Year

April 25, 2020
You might be a highly-paid professional, but if you’re not reading books, you’re missing out on a beauty that is beyond value, and, frankly, beyond words.

Don't want to read the entire article? Here's the list of things you need to know:

  1. Get a Kindle with Kindle Unlimited.
  2. Already got a Kindle? Get a free month of Kindle Unlimited.
  3. Buy some ear plugs.
  4. Read every day for at least 30 minutes to build a habit.
  5. Learn not to lose your focus.
  6. Keep reading.
  7. Rinse and repeat.

Why you should start reading books

If you're not reading books, you're missing out.

A study found that people who read books live almost 2 years longer.

Another says you are 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer's if you read.

Last, but not least, reading helps you develop empathy.

The need for writing this article grew in me for a long time. I was wondering, will anyone even bother reading a wall of text about books? I'm hopeful at least a few of you will get something out of it.

Books were invented a while ago and, for some time, they were very popular, but now, not so much.

According to the Pew Research Center, "Roughly a quarter of U.S. adults (27%) say they haven't read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form." The numbers get worse for people coming from less privileged backgrounds. Women read more than men too.

So, more or less, a third of you is getting their knowledge "from life." It's a very popular excuse for not reading books. Every single adult who doesn't read usually claims to have "devoured" books as a child. It's amazing how all of these child geniuses turned into adults who haven't read a book in years.

Ebook readers or paper books?

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  • Enjoy twice the storage with 8 GB. Or choose 32 GB to hold more magazines, comics, and audiobooks.

I will never stop reading traditional books. I love the smell of a new book. But, for a few years now, I’m in love with the Kindle. Nothing beats an e-book reader for traveling. In the past, I had to choose a single book that I will take on a journey. Now I can take a thousand.

If you have never tried an ebook reader you will never understand how much better their screens are compared to computer screens and smartphones. They are almost as good as real books, and in many ways they are better.

Why Kindle is a good ebook reader?

  1. It's the best, most popular ebook reader around.
  2. You will save a lot of money. Just take a look at this website. There are thousands of amazing classics out there that can be legally downloaded for free!
  3. It gives you access to Kindle Unlimited.

My thing is to always have my Kindle on me. This way at any down time, such as waiting in line, I can read a few pages. At the gym too I read one or two pages between sets. These little moments add up.

Also if a book is not very well written or interesting it's OK to skip ahead of speed read a bit. I used to feel guilty not putting all my attention in a book even when they're not so good.

As silly as it is, not being able to feel how heavy the remaining book feels in my right hand makes a huge difference to me. I spend less time checking how much I have left to go, figuring out if I have time to even finish a chapter, etc. and just read. The estimated chapter times also really help with this.

It's the ability to carry 300 books on a tiny device that makes it amazing. The e-ink display is nice, and makes less a strain on the eye.

And make fun of this all you want, but the smell of the plastic and chemicals on the device, and most cases, enhance my reading habits even more. Remember to smell it.

Why you should use Kindle Unlimited?

If you read a lot of books, like me, you will save a ton of money with Kindle Unlimited.

Long story short, Kindle Unlimited allows you to borrow any 10 books at the same time. It comes with full access to both Amazon and Audible libraries. Once you're done with a book, just "give" it back and you can borrow another one. It's only $9.99/month.

I read/listen to anywhere between 4 and 8 books every month, so, for me, it's a great deal. Plus I download a ton of audiobooks just to check them out for 15-30 minutes to see if I'm be interested.

If you buy your Kindle through this link, you will get a free 3-month access to Kindle Unlimited. If you're really into audiobooks, I recommend getting the 32GBs version, so that you can store more of them. For ebooks only, a 8GBs version is more than enough.

Unfortunately, Kindle Paperwhite doesn't have a headphone jack, so you will need a pair of Bluetooth headphones. Personally I use my Apple Airpods:

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Finally, get a nice case for your Kindle

I'd definitely get a case. They don't add much weight but will help protect your kindle from any accidents. You can get a regular case like these:

Or buy something more interesting like these cases:

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  • Made from high density durable card, woven paper and laminated making it hard wearing and splashproof.
  • Hard shell snap in case and naturally closed position offers security and protection in transit.

They are made by actual expert book binders and, I think, look super-rad.

Did I mention they sell Harry Potter-themed cases?

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  • Now with hidden Magnet Closure that also keeps cover in position when the case is folded backwards.
  • Kindle Paperwhite specific soft plastic interior holder gives extra protection and is removable.

How to develop a book reading habit

You're still in the "habit building phase" and you got all these common problems to anybody starting a new habit. You would be having the same problems if you were: picking up a musical instrument, studying a new language, learning a new form of math, or any other skill that requires sustained focus and repetition.

Keep at it and eventually you'll reach a point when your mind stops wandering, and instead of daydreaming you'll find yourself visualizing the novel itself, and you'll stop self-assessing as you go along. You can help by actively trying to create what you're reading about in your head. Nobody who read a few dozens books in a year got that way without having reading as a habit for a very long time. Keep the end-goal in mind: by becoming a proficient reader you open the door to limitless possibilities for what else you can learn.

My suggestion is perhaps a bit patronizing but very reasonable. Start with easier books until your habit is built up. You may not enjoy them as much, but go read some Young Adult fiction. Typically the language is more straightforward and the themes are easier to digest. Or start with some simple non-fiction books. Don't dive into Dostoyevsky from the get-go.

Create your own book reading ritual

Here's my checklist:

  • Sweatpants. This is the key and a crucial moment that determines your success.
  • My Kindle.
  • My ear plugs.
  • My favorite tea.
  • Phone off and away from sight.
  • Computer off and away from sight.
  • Curtains open to let in a natural filter of light.
  • Blanket.
  • Snacks.
  • Imagination.

For drinks, tea and coffee are good ones. I also like a nice cup of hot milk with sugar and whatever flavoring I'm feeling. Vanilla extract, cinnamon, or almond extract are good ones.

Coffee is always my go to drink. However, I'm sensitive to caffeine, so I only get one regular cup a day--two max. So, I bought a can of decaff from a good brand. I put it in my coffee maker and ontop of my grinds I give two shakes of cinnamon. Makes it smell amazing!

Real lemonade is a good one too. The recipes make it sound more difficult to make than it is. One lemon makes one big glass and you can dissolve the sugar with hot tap water then add ice to cool it down.

How school killed reading books for me

I, too, wasn't reading books once, and I thought I was happy.

Unfortunately, schools and parents often destroy what would be a childhood filled with wonder and learning. The same happened in my case.

My parents haven't taught me to read books at first. All the stuff my father was reading concerned weird stuff about the war that I didn't care about. My mother was mostly reading some spiritual stuff and romantic novels. You can imagine that I wasn't interested in these either.

When I went to school, we were forced to read stuff like "The Scarlett Letter" and "Beowulf." You know the drill. I started using Cliffnotes on a regular basis. I hated books with a passion.

Virtually all class time was wasted on popcorn reading at a snail's pace, and the teacher beating to death the textbook analysis as indisputable fact, with no real room for subjective analysis or reflection. It absolutely killed the joy out of any required literature.

I was 15, and I was dumb. Like, really, really dumb. I was excellent at maths but other than that, lights were on, but no one was home. I took pride in the fact that I haven't read a single book since I was 12.

How I started reading books

My father was an avid reader. Mountains of books always surrounded him. There were so many books in his study that you had to walk sideways to reach the window. Some people say he read every book that ever existed.

One day I was more bored than usual. The Internet was down or something like that. I went to my father's study to snoop around. I don't remember exactly why, but I picked up a book and started reading. I guess I liked the cover.

It was George Orwell's 1984. I loved it. After I finished it, I asked my dad for book recommendations. He smiled and disappeared in his study. After a few minutes, he came back with a bag of classics. This is how my life-long adventure with reading started.

My life with books

During my childhood, I went through all the usual book fascinations. Sometimes, with no apparent reason, I would start to read something that was completely out of my league at my age. Say, James Joyce’s Ulysses. Not to be recommended for a teenager. I tried Finnegan’s Wake after that. I was disgusted with it then.

I gradually read less as I started working, partying, and traveling more. And I regret that. Now, since I have a lot of free time, and I mean, all the time, I’ve came back to reading again. Last year I was reading on and off and managed to finish over thirty books. But it’s not about the count. Some books, like Infinite Jest, are much longer and harder than others.

What books should I read?

The answer is very simple: all of them. And especially these, which you really want to read.

I didn’t get all my knowledge from one book. And the books that worked for me might not work for you at all. Just start reading and see where it leads you.

It’s easy to spot idiots. They will try to tell you that better people read Derrida and worse people read Dan Brown. There is wisdom in many books, and different books are suitable for different ages and characters. Just because you’re into crime stories or fantasy books doesn’t make it an less valuable.

If someone reads, but really reads, they will never look with contempt at another reader. Even if the other person only reads the article section in Playboy. I wonder if this magazine even exists anymore?

Find out which books changed my life

Our bookless houses

When I visit a friend’s house, I always look for books. It’s like a reflex. I recognize people by the books they read. Doesn’t matter what books they are. Horrors, criminals, or romances. I don’t care. It’s only important that they read. Nowadays it’s harder to browse through people’s collections, because everything is electronic.

I don’t like houses without books. I own a Kindle, but I still buy hardcopies of every book I value and will keep it on my bookshelf forever. I’d rather buy a house without a bathtub than without a place to put my bookshelf in.

Why I still read paper books

I love to destroy books. When I was a kid I was taught that you have to respect them. Respect is fine, but my mind works differently. I underline my favorite passages. I write notes and comments in my books. Sometimes I will even draw a picture.

You can’t really do these things properly using an ebook reader. I love opening a book after a few years, to be surprised by seeing which parts have been underlined by former me. I go back to this time in my mind and relieve my memories of reading them.

Are these books worth less because they’ve been doodled on? I think it’s the opposite. Books are meant to be used, and corners are meant to be folded.

Why audiobooks are awesome too

I've always been an avid reader and I have no problem with finding motivation to read. However, when I was in the university, finding time to read isn't always that easy. My solution: audiobooks!

I love audiobooks because I can read while walking to uni, doing dishes, cleaning... Whenever I do something that doesn't require much thinking I simultaneously listen to a book. This doesn't necessarily work too well with non-fiction books but with fiction it is great. And falling asleep listening to a great story is really nice too.

I urge you to give audiobooks a try. Put he phone in your pocket and listen while outside or in a nice public area like a park. Relax and enjoy the story. Start small, 15-20 minutes.

How to read foreign language books

Something I've done while trying to build up my reading abilities in my second language is reading a book that I'm already super familiar with (like Harry Potter) in my second language. That way, I already know what part of the story I'm at and I can infer the meanings of specific words and phrases as I read through.

In addition to the tip about marking words that are unfamiliar - reading on an e-reader helps! My Kindle has the Oxford english dictionary installed and it's connected to Wikipedia if there's a wifi-connection. This means that if I just highlight the word I'm unfamiliar with, it'll give me the answer immediately.

Remember that you don't have to finish every book

If you aren’t enjoying a book or learning from it, stop reading it immediately. Flinging it across the room helps give closure.

How to read more books

There are so many books out there, but never enough time. According to Max Joseph, it's easier than you think to read a lot of books. Let's say, on average, you've got 50 years left in your life.

If you commit to reading for just 30 minutes every day, you will read close to a thousand books during the rest of your life, and you will become a major reader. That's 20 books every year. Anybody can build a habit of reading for half an hour a day!

I read every little chance I get. I rarely watch television, and try to limit my phone or computer time. You'd be surprised how much time that frees up to read; even 10 pages here or there adds up over the day.

I read instead of going on social media on public transit, waiting in doctor's offices, and in the evenings. I also read for a half hour before bedtime many nights.

Read with partner, read to your friends, read to your kids. Everyone can find 30 minutes in a day to read.

How can I read 52 books in a year?

Easily attainable if you cut out things like tv shows, YouTube and video games. I truly recommend reading one book a week so you can join the 52 books a year club.

Last year I aimed for 52 and I landed in the low 40s, because most of my choices were pretty difficult. That's still a hell of a lot more than I would have read if I'd made some vague resolution like "I should read more."

I also think unless someone always loves books more than other entertainment or has a professional reason to read so much, 52 books a year, might be too much. If you're just starting out, opt for a more realistic goal like 12 books in a year.

Finally, taking the Goodreads challenge and tracking your reading helps a lot.

How to read multiple books at the same time

Currently reading 5 books. 4 of them are non-fiction and one is fiction. This is a little more than my normal 2 or 3 but not unheard of for me. I always read more than one book at a time. Even if i like the book, I get bored after some time and need some variation.

I usually read a novel and a nonfiction (biography, self improvement, business, psychology, religion, spirituality, critical thinking, or history) book at the same time. Often just split between one work for entertainment and another for skill development. However, I'm now entrenched deep enough into fiction that some diversity was needed and have added in some shorter standalone books alongside it. Nice to be able to dip into a different genre based on your mood.

I like books that give me an immersive experience -- may not necessarily be something I need to have in my hands many hours on a stretch to the detriment of daily activities such as going to work or having a social life -- but one that has me look forward to picking it up as soon as I am faced with some downtime. If it's not a book I look forward to, I either abort it (very rarely) or trudge through it. That's because I'd try finish the most tedious book unless I find it really bad. Therefore, I am not normally one that reads multiple books at a time.

I've started using index cards as bookmarks. I write a short summary of the story so far on each of them. It's a little extra work, but it allows you to retain multiple ongoing stories at once.

It's easier if you have a Kindle.

When I'm reading for pleasure I can only do it with one book per format so my max is usually 3. I often have a book, kindle book and audiobook going at the same time.

If I take a break part way through any of these books and switch to another one in the same format I'm almost guaranteed never to go back to the first one again. If I do it'll be so much later that I'll start it from the beginning because I've forgotten what was happening.

This question is asked all the time, the answer is always the same. Do what works for you.

Also:

Is it OK to read pop fiction that isn't written well, e.g., Twilight stories? Yes. Do what works for you.

Does anyone else skip ahead to speed up the pace of the book? Yes. Ultimately a good book shouldn't necessitate that but do what works for you.

How to read a lot of boring books that are required for school or work

Let's take philosophy as an example.Don't put the cart before the horse. Better to read something because you're interested in it, rather than because you're on a mission to get through it. Let your curiosity draw you forward. If you get bored, stop reading, or skip ahead. Given the amount you're trying to read, it'll be hard to absorb everything anyway.

Especially with philosophy, it pays to read slowly, in short bits, interspersed with lots of reflection, note taking, question writing, etc. And it pays to reread passages over and over. That's how you get ideas to stick. So I recommend limiting your goals a bit. Focus on topics you're genuinely curious about, and don't try to read 9 hours a day. Make it more like 3 hours. That's still a lot.

My advice is that reading philosophy is a lot like lifting weights and building muscles. You cannot just simply read a 1,500 page book in 4 weeks. You need time, patience, stamina, and energy. It's incredibly tough!

How to stay focused while reading

People find it hard to focus because they are stressed out or anxious.

Ask yourself why you want to read. Everytime you pick up a book to read and get distracted put a tick on a paper nearby and in a while count the ticks and think about how short your attention span is. Get rid of all that distracts you, take some deep breaths to calm yourself and start again, just start.

Even if you've never done this before, try this simple form of meditation. All you have to do is sit down and attempt to think of nothing just to see how loud your mind is, how busy it can be. Try to distance yourself from your thoughts. Just draw attention to your breath. Breathing in, breathing out.

If you're looking for something quick to Zen you in the moment. Stop: Find one thing you can see, really look at it. One thing you can hear, really listen to it. Smell. Touch. Even taste if you want. That will bring you back to the moment.

You will likely find that you're going back to your thoughts as you're reading. Don't try to push them away or fight them, because that will make them come back stronger and it will be that much harder to focus. Instead, let them run its course. Nod your head, acknowledge the thought is there and go back to where you left off.

How to read more critically/analytically

I don't like to think about things other than the story as I read. So instead of trying to break down themes and symbols while I read, I mark anything I think I'll need to come back to and do most of my in-depth reading after I've finished the whole book.

Also, you definitely don't have to go at critical reading alone, talk to other people about what you have read. In person is best but online works as well. Find someone who also read the book and talk about your favorite/least favorite parts, things you wish had been written differently, your interpretation of cryptic parts.

It doesn't even have to be super academic discussion. It will help you solidify what you've just read and opens you to other interpretations of the book. It prepares you to discuss or write about it for a class much more than just reading it alone.

How to learn speed reading

Speed reading, also known as sight reading, is such a useful skill! If you want to learn it, you can!

I was unaware how fast I read until we got assingnments in class that required reading a page or two and I was done before anybody else and had time to spare. I think learning to read early on and reading a lot of books is the reason why I read so fast. However, while I can read fast I don't always do so. Sometimes I read great books and want to enjoy every word so I read slower, visualizing at the same time.

Read a book on speed reading or take an online course. It does take practice, but you really improve over time.

Basically, you train yourself to glance at 3-4 words at a time, glean their meaning, and glance at the next 3-4 words. It's just like glancing at a sign as you drive: you don't "subvocalize" by saying the words to yourself in your mind as you read. You glance and understand. That way, you can read so much faster while maintaining good comprehension.

I can get a newspaper article done in no time flat. But when I want to read something really carefully, I can also slow down and do the subvocalization.

Last words

You might be a highly-paid professional, but if you’re not reading books, you’re missing out on a beauty that is beyond value, and, frankly, beyond words.

So, start reading. It is the cheapest and the easiest way to make your life richer. There are thousands of life-changing books waiting for you.

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One comment on “This Is How I Went From Reading No Books To Reading 50 Books Every Year”

  1. I haven't made a New Years resolution in years but gosh darn it this has inspired me to set one. 52 books this year. Let's do this.

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