Los Fresnos News

The Biggest Trick to Reading More

Brett & Kate McKay

When people ask me how I read so many books, they’re usually fishing for a speed reading technique that will allow their brains to swallow books whole.

Speed reading certainly plays a role in my reading technique (more on that later), but it’s not my killer secret.

Lean in. I’m going to whisper the secret to reading a lot of books.
Are you ready?

You need to spend more time reading.

I spend a lot of time reading because it’s part of my job.

To prepare for my podcast, I read my guest’s book(s). When I write articles, I read books for research. Reading is just part of my job description.

Being amazed at how many books I read in a year would be like being amazed at how many leaky faucets a plumber fixed in a year. It’s not that impressive when it’s what you do for work.

With that said, in addition to the books I read specifically for the Art of Manliness last year, I also managed to read 2-3 books every month for pleasure. That’s more than two dozen non-work related books in 12 months. It’s an amount that I think most men with even the busiest of schedules can very viably knock off in a year too.

So the #1 secret to reading more is to spend more time reading.

How can you find this time?

Schedule time for reading. You can’t in fact find time for reading; you’ve got to make time for it. And the best way to make time for something is to put it on your daily schedule. You don’t need to set aside an hour straight for reading. If you’re just starting off with making reading a priority, you probably don’t yet have the attention span for it, and trying to read that long in one sitting will likely set you up for frustration. Instead, block off 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night for reading. Heck, make those 20-minute blocks if a half hour still seems too long. Instead of doing your typical time-wasting smartphone scan at those times, you’ll read. You’ll be amazed at how many books you can knock off in a month by reading an hour a day.

Use spare moments for reading. Even though your daily schedule may seem packed, there are invariably small pockets of time hidden in its interstices that you typically waste. A few minutes of downtime between activities or appointments may seem trivial, but they soon add up to hours, and to entire books read; there’s great possibilities in spare moments!

Standing in line at the post office? Read a book. Cooling your heels at the dentist? Read a book. Pooping? Read a book. Waiting to pick up your kid from school? Read. I’ll even read in between sets while I’m lifting weights. #barbellsandbooks

The easiest way to be ready to read when you find yourself with a little slice of time is to download the Kindle app on your phone. You almost always have your phone with you, and will thus almost always have a library at your fingertips. (And on the cheap if you want; you can get thousands of classics for free.)

Avoid reading on your smartphone. So I just recommended using the Kindle app on your smartphone to get more reading done. Now I’m going to completely contradict that advice by recommending you avoid reading on your smartphone as much as possible.

Let me explain.

I’ve found that when I read on my phone, I tend to get really distracted. I’ll read for 5 minutes, but then get the itch to check my email or scroll through Instagram. I’ll do a quick check of other apps and then get back to reading. Five minutes later the itch comes back, and I repeat the cycle. I never get in any good, focused reading when I read on my phone.

Consequently, I try to do most of my reading with physical books. What’s more, studies suggest that reading comprehension increases when you read an analog book compared to reading on digital devices. It’s probably because you simply focus more when using the former medium.

The other advantage of paper books is that I find it easier to highlight and make notes compared to e-readers.

While I try to do most of my reading with physical books, digital books still have a place in my reading schedule. I use the Kindle app for spare moment reading and nothing more. A spare “moment” lasts about 5-15 minutes, or about the amount of time I can read on my phone before the itch to check another app arises.

Of course, I read different books on my phone and in paperback; it would be a huge pain in the rear to try to switch back and forth between a digital and hard copy of the very same book. At any given time, I’ll be reading one book as a paperback, and a different book on my Kindle app, often picking a “lighter” book for the latter selection, since I won’t be engaging it with as much sustained attention.

Take advantage of travel time. If you commute by subway or bus, use that travel time to read.

My favorite time to get reading done is when I’m on a plane. You’d be surprised how much reading you can accomplish during a two-hour flight in the absence of Wi-Fi-dependent distractions. In fact, you can finish entire books from beginning to end in that amount of time. Short books, of course. I’ve read The Road, The Great Gatsby, Death of a Salesman, The Bhagavad Gita, and The Innovator’s Dilemma all on 2-hour trips.

Next time you’re traveling by plane, instead of loading your phone with apps and movies, stock it with books. Better yet, bring a physical book or two in your carry-on.

Listen to audiobooks. I don’t listen to too many audiobooks; it’s just not my preferred method of consuming literature. But if I’m going on a long road trip where I’ll be doing most of the driving, I’ll buy a few on Audible to pass the time. If you’re on the road a lot, your drive can be a golden opportunity to consume a big ol’ library of books.

Pro-tip: speed up the narration to 1.5x or 2x. You can still understand everything, but it will allow you to get through a book much faster.

Speed read strategically. As mentioned above, when people ask me how I read so many books, they often assume…

To read the rest of this article you can visit the Art of Manliness’ website.