Saturday, January 2, 2016

How I managed to read 72 books in 2015, despite being a slow reader

CC image by Pietro Bellini


2015 was a year of hits and misses. But one of things I love most - Books, was a real hit for me.

I discovered the joy of reading while passing out of college but got real infected when I was married another book lover.

I read 72 books in 2015.
Yes, that's 6 books a month, approximately 1.4 books a week.

And this is apart from the blogs and articles and what nots.

Now before you think I am some crazy speed reader, let me tell you that unfortunately, I  read really slow and hence I am writing this blog. I want others to understand that how I end up growth hacking my reads, so that it can help others too.

I truly believe that you can live many lives via books.

So here's what I did to read more and hence learn more:

1. Slot time for books: Reading books like any other good thing, is a habit. The easiest way to form reading books as a habit is to put a specific time on your calendar for it. I said books specifically, because in today's world they are competing with long-form articles, Facebook/Whatsapp messages and news.

For me that time is in the morning- 20 minutes right after I get up; and at night - 20 minutes before I sleep. In the whole of 2015, this "time slot" helped me keep my date with books despite all the happenings around me

2. Audiobooks: If you are like me, living in a cosmopolitan city, you sure are commuting. What do you listen to when you commute? Radio/FM cluttered with advertisements or something that feeds your brain?

For me, commute can be as high as 2.5 hours on the road (yes, I stay in Bangalore). Hence I started listening to audiobooks in 2015. I experimented with a lot of different genres in audiobooks to understand what interferes least with cognitive load of driving in Bangalore. I read (listened?) to long literary fiction, non-fictional biography/autobiography, science fiction and scientific non-fiction.

I have come to the conclusion that any kind of fiction and biographies in non-fictional, long enough (400+ pages/15+ hours) work best because they keep the story coherent as you commute from one day to another. Also scientific or data non-fiction audiobooks are a complete no no, since they point to a lot of external references which you can't do while driving. They also put a lot of cognitive load while driving.

3. Read right: At the beginning of 2015, when I decided to read a lot of books. One of the first things that I did was to go back to my past reads and build a framework to understand what genres I wanted to read for my personal/professional growth and what genres I love. This helped me stay focussed on the genres I committed to, when I went full steam reading. This made sure that not only was I reading a lot, I was reading right.

Secondly, I started consolidated my reading on Kindle. It happened by chance when we moved to Mumbai 3 years back and realised that we can't take our beloved 2000+ books with us. Cut to 2015, I am a Kindle power user. Being on Kindle, also helped me stay mobile without thinking of the size of a book.

4. Cheat a little: Just because you have committed to genres, doesn't mean you can't cheat. In fact you *should*! What I have realised is that when I keep reading specific genres for quite some time, a boredom starts to set in. So I refresh my brain in between by reading comics (Chacha Chaudhary FTW!) and short stories. Helps get you back on your feet pretty fast.

5. Think ahead: While you are reading your current book, it helps if you are also thinking what you want to read next. It makes sure that momentum is on! I do that all the time with the help of Goodreads.com. It doesn't have the best recommendation engine but it gives you a great glimpse on what is new/best-selling/best-critiqued in the market in the genres you are committed to, and I use that to the fullest extent.

I am already on the third book in 2016, on the 2nd day of the year. What about you? What are you planning to read?

Books read in 2015