The last couple of years, I’ve certainly upped my reading game. I’ve worked hard to make reading a priority. I read 20 books in 2015 and literally finished my 26th book on December 31st of 2016. Each year, I push myself to read more and each year, I’m my list of books read continues to grow.
First of all, let me answer the obvious question.
Why make reading a priority?
Knowledge. Leaders are readers. A commonality of some of the greatest contributors in this world is that they were voracious readers. Knowledge matters. There’s a lot of ways to learn and grow and reading is one of the easiest ways to gather knowledge. Reading is a priority to me because of how it has impacted me. Reading has made me more efficient with my work. It has made me a more attentive husband and father. Reading has challenged my relationship with God. Reading has shaped my view of ministry. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the books that have influenced me.
Tips and tricks to reading more
I’ve found a few things that have helped me read more. If reading more in 2017 is one of your goals, see if some of these tips don’t help you as they’ve helped me.
Create a list: This is a really interesting exercise for me. I have a google doc called 2017 Reading List. I have categories (like leadership, marriage/parenting, fiction/fun, personal/spiritual development and ministry). Under each category, I have several books listed. This helps me keep track of what I want to read as I find that I forget about really interesting books… even books sitting on a bookshelf. The list provides accountability and a path for my reading plan. However, I find that my list nearly doubles as the year goes on and I often do not read the books I originally wrote down. I’m not too worried about this because I’m still reading more than I did without the list.
Be Inspired by others: I’m always inspired by others who are able to read 50+ books in a year. Follow people who are voracious readers. Talk to people who read a lot and ask them about what they’re reading. I find that surrounding yourself with readers will impact your desire to read more.
Create a reading routine: A couple of years ago, I changed some habits and started getting up earlier. I would arrive a my local Starbucks by 5:30 AM. Most mornings, I’d not open my computer for the first 30-45 minutes. I’d take this time to reflect, read or write. I found that taking time to read a chapter or two every morning during this quiet time helped me significantly. I’ve found that it’s such a great way to start the day. I’ve also become more intentional about reading while on vacation. I used to always take 4-5 books on a trip and not read anything. Now I will actually pick out a book (usually something fun) that isn’t work or ministry related and I take time to really enjoy it… reading for several hours at a time.
Make books accessible: 90% of the books I read are on my kindle app. When this is the case, I always have something to read with me. If I’m on the plane, waiting for a meeting to start or have a few minutes before going to bed, I can knock out a chapter. I also always have one or two books in my backpack. Always. I don’t always “want” to read… but when I do, I have a book available.
Audible books FTW: I have always been a fan of audible books. I usually enjoyed certain books in this format for road trips or when spending several days on a yard project. Last year, I began a subscription to audible and I’m never going back. I don’t have a very long commute at all, but I’m amazed at how quickly I can put a book away from just time in the car going back and forth to work every day. A third of the books I read this last year were through my audible account.
Get recommendations: Every year, I like to ask 4-5 people for book recommendations. I try to make it a personal ask. I’ll ask, “You know me, what book do you think would be good for me to read this year?” I’ll ask someone I really respect what book was the most meaningful/helpful book they’ve read in the past year or two. There’s a social connection here as it begins a conversation around a recommended book. I also feel more invested in these recommended books and to a certain degree, I’ve found that these books tend to be the ones I enjoy most.
That’s what I do. I now read 5-10 times more books now than I did just a few years ago and I attribute it to these simple habits.
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