“Reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding.”
- Bill Gates
Gates is well known for being the co-founder of Microsoft and for his work as a philanthropist through the various foundations he funds. Did you know that self-education and self-development are at the core of his achievements? Bill Gates reads 50 books in a year while the average individual reads only about 1.5. He’s not the only one. There’s a billionaires' book club which includes Warren Buffet who spends 80% of his time reading; he currently reads 500 pages per day. He used to read 600 – 1000 pages in his early career as an investor. His partner Charlie Munger also mentions reading as the secret to their success. In his words: “I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up and boy does that help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.”
Elon and Zuckerberg also mention reading as what really inspired them to succeed. Zuckerberg reportedly read a book every two weeks in 2015. Though everyone knows how important reading is, most people are unable to do so. It begs the question: How can someone read 50 books in a year? What does Bill Gates or other high achievers do to read that much? Reading like every other discipline has rules which you must abide by to really excel at it. Let’s cut the intro short and proceed with the 10 rules of reading:
1. Read with a Purpose
Why do you read books? If you just start reading out of the blue with no goal whatsoever, you won’t get anywhere. The main purpose of reading is usually to acquire knowledge on a certain subject or to learn a skill. It could also be just for entertainment. Whatever the case, you should have a clear goal. If you want to learn how to invest, you can read books on investment such as “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham . If you want to improve your personal finance management, you can read books on personal finance such as “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. If you just want to be entertained, you can pick up “Harry Potter”. There are books of all genres and on all subjects; as long as you’re purpose driven, you’ll find what you need. On that note; you should set SMART goals for reading. Warren Buffet reads 500 pages per day. Your goal can be to read one chapter of a book in a day. That’s a specific goal which can be tracked and measured. Whatever the genre or the subject, reading books has several benefits one of which is it keeps the brain sharp. You can check out our video “10 Reasons why you should read books everyday” by clicking the link below.
2. Make books Accessible for Easy Reading
Where are your books? Do you have easy access to them? You can’t aim to read one book in a month and leave the said book at home when going out. Unless you’re going for an outing with friends, you should always carry your book or books along. What if you have an appointment and for some reason, you’re asked to wait for about 10 mins? What could you be doing with that time? Reading of course. Maybe you use public transportation to get around. All that time sitting in a taxi, bus or train could be spent reading. In this day and age, carrying books is a lot easier with electronic copies. There are also audio books. When driving you can listen to audio books in transit. Do you know how much time you spend commuting? According to a report published by the US Census Bureau in 2019, the average one-way commute time for Americans rose up to 27.6 minutes from 25 minutes in 2006.
That’s just one way in a day. What about a whole year? Imagine how many books can be read in that time. That’s why the rich prefer to hire drivers. They get to use the commute time to do productive work such as reading. Some people prefer hard copies to soft copies or audio books. Whatever your preference is, make sure you have them with you. You never know when you’ll have some spare time. Let your books be readily available for you to read. Time is precious and should be well spent.
3. Start by Reading Good Books
One of the main reasons why people don’t like to read is because we were forced by our teachers to read boring books that we don’t like; just because the books were part of the syllabus. In some subjects or courses, your grade depended on your knowledge of the said books. Reading them was like punishment and you couldn’t wait to be done. As a result, people from that experience think that all books are boring. Just wait until you read a really good book. No matter the topic, there are very entertaining books out there. Books that grab your attention and you just can’t stop reading. If you’re just beginning your journey in reading and self-development, we recommend “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. This will lead you on a path of self discovery to your vision and purpose in life. We also recommend “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. This book will open your mind with respect to money and finances. You’ll learn deep truths about money that will help you to improve your money management skills.
There are several other good books. After reading them, you’ll be enticed to read more. Also, feel free to stop reading a book that you don’t find interesting. You don’t have to keep reading just because you started. Not all books are interesting for everyone, not all styles of writing appeal to everyone. Find the styles that suit you and enjoy them. The good thing is that there are several options for you to choose from.
4. Make Notes of what You've Learned
As you read it’s good to write down the lessons you learn. Writing it down helps you to remember and it also creates a source of information that you can consult later on whenever you need to. Research shows that hand writing activates more parts of your brain as carving each letter requires more effort and flexibility.
Hand writing activates motor skills, visual perception and touch sensation thus enhancing the learning process. Similarly, reading the handwritten text activates different parts of your brain tied to the memory of the movements required to write the letters. Taking notes in a dairy or a notebook is a good option. However, some people prefer digital notes. Smartphones have several note taking apps that you can use. Some of these apps are available on your phone by default. Whether you prefer hand writing or typing, both options will be helpful. Of course, you shouldn’t write down everything, that will become exhausting and it takes meaning out of the process. It’s like copying the book. You might as well just always read the book if you need to.
5. Find and Apply Actionable Information
In a similar manner to the previous point, actionable information is useless if not acted upon. Let’s say you’re reading a book on productivity and you learn that it’s good to prepare a to-do list before you start your day, and you write it down. What do you do with that information? Do you write it and do nothing? The next step should be to apply it by creating to-do lists. That should be one of your goals when reading. Find actionable information that could help you grow and put it to practice.
6. Read a Good Book Multiple times
Reading a good book once is good, but reading it multiple times is much better. The thing with books is that you wouldn’t get all the information in one read. There are details you will miss. Reading a book a second time will open your mind to new ways of thinking about the content. It refreshes what you previously read. You know when you get hooked by a song and get to listen to it multiple times; the same happens with good books. Feel free to enjoy a book that really hooked you multiple times. Obviously, the frequency will be much lower in this case. It wouldn’t make sense to read the same book twice in a week for instance. It’s good to give it a while, like a year or two. You can always read other good books because there are several of them.
7. You don't have to Finish a Book in one Sitting
Most people look at the number of pages in a book and just give up without even trying. That’s because you unconsciously want to finish as fast as possible. We live in a time where things happen so fast; there’s high speed internet, you can just google any information you want. You can order food online and it will be delivered within the next 30 minutes. We naturally want everything to go as fast as these. Reading is not a quick process especially if you’re just starting out. Experienced readers could do so a little faster but as a beginner, take things slow. It could be just one page per day; that’s okay as long as you do it consistently. You’ll be amazed at how much you would’ve read in a month. It’s better to read one page per day for 7 days than to read 7 pages once a week. Doing it everyday will make it a habit for you. As you get better, you can increase how much you read daily.
8. Avoid Speed Reading, it's a Scam.
If someone ever wants to teach you a technique of speed reading in exchange for money, don’t even think about it. There’s no such a thing as a way to speed read. All those so called gurus who claim to know how to speed read just want your money. According to cognitive scientist, Elizabeth Schotter, of the University of South Florida, “Speed reading is not actually possible”. Reading is a complex task that requires coordination between multiple parts of the brain. There are times when you need to reread a sentence you just read. Skilled and experienced readers can read up to 200 -300 words per minute. It’s not possible to go higher than that while maintaining accuracy. If skilled readers can’t read that much, what more of a beginner? Take your time and read to really understand and assimilate the information.
9. Have an Open Mind as You Read.
We all have our beliefs, values, thought patterns, opinions and biases. Having an open mind while still sticking to your own beliefs is a rare skill. Most people find it difficult to entertain opposing views to their own. Having an open mind means being willing to explore different views, options, opinions and more. There are over 8 billion people in the world; there’s no way that everyone will agree with you. Even as you read, you may come across ideas from the book which you don’t agree with. You should be able to pick what’s valuable to you and leave the rest. You shouldn’t just toss a book aside because some of the ideas are contrary to yours. Or maybe a book is written by a Buddhist and because you are Christian, you choose not to read it. There could be valuable insights that you’ll miss if you don’t read it. Having an open mind will enable you to assimilate more knowledge and really understand people.
10. Don't Judge a Book by its Cover.
I’m sure you’ve heard this one time and again. The truth is that we naturally judge a book by its cover. This usually applies to people we meet for the first time. You need to go beyond the surface. As concerns books, don’t be moved by their outward appearances. Some book covers my not look that good, but the content is enriching. Good books don’t always have good covers. Don’t pass up on reading a great book just because the cover wasn’t appealing.
Those were 10 rules of reading which you need to follow in order to get the most from reading. What about you? Have you been applying these rules? Which ones did you just learn about today? What other rules do you follow? Please let us know in the comments. Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to our blog for more enriching content. Thank you for reading and until next time, BESTech remains your BEST bet.