Read a Book Every Week

Almost all highly-successful people in the world read books regularly. Bill Gates reads around 50 books per year. Elon Musk says that he was raised first by books, and by his parents second. It's the primary way he transitioned from being a computer programmer to a rocket scientist. Virtually all of the super-successful put in lots of time to read, despite the tremendous amount of time required to run successful companies. If they read so much, why doesn't everyone? You know Tai Lopez prefers his bookshelves and KNOWLEDGE over his new Lamborghini, so why don't you read more?

Reading different genres typically produces different results. Most successful people tend to focus on nonfiction books on success, self-improvement, and biographies of other successful people. They specifically select books that they think will improve them. Whereas most other people will read mainly for entertainment, such as novels and newspapers.

Consider that you set out to read a new book every week. At the end of the year, you'll have read 52 books. If all the books you read were related to improving yourself in one particular area of your life (e.g. relationships, career, marketing), then you'd probably become significantly better in whatever area you read about. If you read a book a week in your field of interest for several years, you'd likely become an expert. If you made such a commitment, it would probably be difficult not to become successful.

I wouldn't recommend reading only in one area, because the problems you may be having aren't always caused by what you think. If you struggle to maintain energy throughout the day, you may read a book on getting better rest, even though the problem may be a bad diet full of sugar, or a lack of exercise. If you struggle to make new friends, reading a book on socialising may not help as much as reading a book on confidence. Reading in one area often has consequences in other areas. Reading books in your primary field may not help you achieve success; it could be that the problems you currently face are with dealing with other people and communication. It's this reading in many areas that will improve you in every area of your life; it will push your life forward at an elevated pace to what you've ever experienced before.

Reading is an investment in the future. Think of it as making a small short-term sacrifice of time you could be spending doing other things while gaining greater long-term reward for the knowledge you receive and the effects of applying the ideas in your own life. Some things may be immediately applicable, other pieces of knowledge may be useful in five years. You may not know when the reward for reading a book will pay off, but often it will; even if it is small. As long as you understand and apply the concepts in books, or think that the book is useless and you can articulate why you believe your viewpoint is better — you will have gained value from each book you read.

Often what people need to improve is that one key bit of knowledge that's holding them back in whatever area they're trying to improve at. If you came to one realisation in the area of relationships, it could boost all of them massively. This one key bit of knowledge that you may be missing will rarely be found in tiny articles online that can be read in a minute or two. The 'Top n hacks for x' or 'n ways to get better at y' articles may hold that information, but lack the sort of depth needed to properly get the point across and actually inspire any kind of change. Books are the medium in which sufficient depth can be reached to attain the knowledge vital to improving yourself, as well as giving impetus to meaningful change in your life.

You can think of short articles as if they were the back covers of books. They make you look and think, but can't reach sufficient depth to share meaningful information that will stick with the reader. A small paragraph in an article often won't be able to share enough information to actually change your mind; sufficient justification and depth is required for you to understand why a certain point is significant and how you can go about improving it.

Writing in greater depth is one of the skills I'm trying to work on for this blog. To stand out and actually be of value, my writing needs to go more in-depth on each topic I write about, explaining as much of it as possible thoroughly. Having one sentence make a claim and then immediately having a separate claim in the next sentence without explanation or justification of the first claim rarely gets the point across. I feel like this is the trap I fell into when writing my article on self-discipline — too many points, too little depth. Before I started writing this article, I read a bunch of articles on the importance of reading books, and very few of them would genuinely have inspired me to read more books. The ones that did were longer and weren't crammed with hyperlinks going elsewhere.

Hopefully, by now, you understand the value of reading books regularly. If you don't, then I've failed miserably. Sorry for wasting your time. 🙃

If you've gotten this far in this article, you've probably decided that reading books will be of great benefit and an efficient use of your time. But how will you find the time? You're already using up 24 hours a day doing other tasks. You're going to want to try and replace low-value activities in your day with reading or multitask when doing menial work. When you usually listen to music, consider replacing that time with listening to an audiobook. When you commute is also a great time to listen to an audiobook, or if your hands are unoccupied and you don't need to pay much attention to the world around you, read a physical book.

Another strategy is reading 10–30 minutes of a book before bed each day. Building it into a habit will let you churn through books much quicker. This is a habit Jordan Peterson started when he was young and still tries to carry it out each day even though he's a busy man, now he's 57 and has become an incredibly knowledgeable and rational person that millions of people around the world admire.

If you still feel like you can't fit it in, consider replacing time spent watching TV/YouTube alone. The most successful people in the world always find time to read books in their incredibly packed schedules, so why can't you? If you feel like you can't, you need to improve your productivity, time management, and self-discipline.

If you feel like reading is difficult, even reading lighter material like fiction is a decent place to start. Many fiction books have great value, and can often teach you more about the world than many nonfiction books can. I plan to read some novels by Fyodor Dostoyevsky at some point, like 'The Brothers Karamazov' or 'Crime and Punishment' — they're deep books that explore human nature and philosophy, though they're not easy reads.

I mainly read through audiobooks on my 30-minute commute, during my lunch break, and when I'm cooking dinner. Listening to audiobooks while exercising is much more challenging as I often lose focus; minds seem to work less effectively when their body is doing strenuous exercise.

I also listen to audiobooks at around 1.75x speed, because I get through the books much faster. I don't go at higher speeds because my comprehension takes a noticeable hit around the 2x speed band, often requiring me to go back a bit and listen to stuff again. Though the more I try and listen at higher speeds, the better my comprehension will get at those speeds, so I try to practice with higher speeds when the content is less dense. If you're just starting with audiobooks, try the quickest pace that you can listen at such that you can comprehend what is said well. And when I say comprehension, I mean understanding each sentence as it comes and remembering the pertinent information after you've read the section.

I don't read many physical books because I prefer the medium of audio rather than physical books. Many people will feel the opposite; they like the material feel of physical books and the positive feeling of turning over each page, one at a time.

Reading a physical book has the advantage of requiring more focus, so you end up with greater retention of the content in memory. You can't multitask effectively while your eyes are focussed on the paper; with audiobooks, your eyes wander and can effortlessly get distracted — causing you to miss parts, requiring you to go back and listen again.

My commitment

I've committed myself to read a book every week for the whole of 2020. It's one thing for me to write about why you should read often, and another to practice what I preach. I'll probably end up getting through many more when I'm not at university, so I should be getting through 60+ books this year. So far, it's the 7th week of the year, and I've got through six books. They are:
  • EQ Applied; Justin Bariso. On emotional intelligence and ways to improve your communication and relationships.
  • High Performance Habits; Brendon Burchard. A great book that I'd highly recommend, on the topic of motivation, productivity, and success.
  • Quirkology; Richard Wiseman. An interesting look at the psychology behind everyday things, like lying and astrology.
  • The Courage to Be Disliked; Fumitake Koga, Ichiro Kishimi. A book different to any other I've ever read. It's on Adlerian psychology; an unconventional way to frame modern problems while providing answers. I'd recommend it.
  • Unlearn: 101 Simple Truths for a Better Life; Humble The Poet. Lacks the depth of most other books, but has a lot of ideas and principles for life.
  • No Excuses; Brian Tracy. A great book on self-discipline and applications to many areas of life.

And I'm currently reading 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' (in print, the book has many diagrams so isn't as good as an audiobook) and 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' (audiobook). 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' seems like a fascinating book so far, it's all about how the mind works; I'd probably end up recommending it after I've read all of it.

If you're wondering where to start, I'd recommend '12 Rules for Life' by Jordan Peterson. It can be a challenging read, but it's an extraordinary book on meaning and purpose, as well as many insights on how the world works. It's a very eye-opening book, nothing I've read so far comes close.

If you want to try to commit to reading a book every week or every two weeks, I'd definitely encourage you to do so. Even if you don't read much currently, it's definitely worth the effort. You're sacrificing the short-term for a more significant gain in the long-term. It's crucial to becoming a better, smarter, more well-rounded person.