Reading is fantastic for the mind in many ways. It’s been scientifically proven to increase intelligence and empathy and help fight Alzheimer's disease. You can read to help wind down after a stressful day and you’ll probably find you sleep much better for it.
The one problem I’ve always had with reading is finding time to read more. I read every night to settle my brain and induce sleep but find that it never feels “enough”.
Well in 2020 I found a way to increase my throughput without compromising on reading quality. This isn’t a post about a reading “life-hack” that will allow you to speed read 100 pages in 10 minutes.
This is a short and simple post about why you should read more and how to do it.
Why You Should Read More
There are two main reasons for reading: entertainment and learning. Those reasons in themselves should be good enough to convince you to read more. Who doesn’t want to be entertained and learn more?
We’ve come to rely on television shows and movies to entertain us but they often lack the depth of a good book. Ask any fan of a book series that’s been converted to film or TV which they prefer and I guarantee it will always be the books. Books take you inside of your mind where you are the creator of the universe instead of taking the film directors adaptation.
Reading fiction broadens your mind and opens you up to different people, beings and cultures. This explains why reading can make you more empathetic because you’re either put into someone else's shoes as you live their story in the first person or you’re experiencing other worlds and cultures.
Non-fiction opens your mind to the real world. It can help you explore topics in further detail, from biographies about a person's life to learning about the universe, history or the human body.
I’ve always found reading fiction a lot easier and therefore this is what I read the most. This year I found a way to cram more non-fiction books into my brain without compromising on the fiction.
How I Read More This Year
The solution is so straight forward I’m annoyed I didn't think about it earlier.
I didn’t actually read more at all, I listened more.
I subscribed to Audible and listened to a whole bunch of non-fiction books when doing other things like washing the car or cleaning the house. This evolved into a 30-minute session on an evening whilst I tidied the kitchen after dinner.
Listening to books, especially non-fiction books solved my problem in a number of ways. Firstly, I struggle to read more than one book at a time usually because of the daily context switching and it ruining the flow of each book. I found that having two separate formats for consuming the books though removed this problem altogether, as it felt like two distinct tasks, one was passive the other active.
Second, it opened up more situations where I could “read” because I could listen whilst doing other things. As someone who has always loved podcasts for this exact reason, I’m embarrassed it’s taken me this long to start listening to audiobooks.
Finally, it meant I could actually get through the non-fiction books without it being a struggle. Reading them can often be quite tedious especially if the content is deep or technical. Having someone else, in most cases the author, read it to you helps convey the messages of the book with more passion. It has prevented me from getting bored anyway!
So there it is. No speed reading and no rushing through books. By simply adding another reading tool to the belt I’ve drastically increased the amount I’ve read in 2020.
If you’re interested in which Audiobooks I’ve listened to you can find them in the post below.