When Warren Buffett was asked how to get smarter, he held up a stack of paper and said, “Read 500 pages like this every week. That’s how knowledge builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many will do it.”
Reading is a superpower that most of us don’t use. If Warren Buffett spends 80% of his working day reading and thinking, doing something similar would benefit you as well.
Why You Should Read Books
Reading books allows you to learn from other’s mistakes. Humans have been recording their knowledge on paper for over 5,000 years. Whatever problem you face now has its answers in a book written by someone smarter than you. Instead of wasting your time by learning from trial and error, seek guidance in books.
“You could try to pound your head against the wall and think of original ideas or you can cheat by reading them in books.”
Forget about money with books. Books are not a luxury; they are a necessity.
Erasmus, the 16th-century scholar, once put it, “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes”.
There is no better investment you can make in this world than a book. Not Bitcoin, not $GME. Books. Warren Buffett says his best investment is a book. r/wallstreetbets should have a megathread about books.
A book that changes your life is priceless. One idea is all that it takes to change your life. For 10 dollars, you can launch a business, improve relationships, change your worldview, and so much more.
Reading is necessary. Reading is part of the human experience. It helps you find meaning, understand yourself, and improves your life.
“I read articles every day, does that count?”. Instead of reading articles, read good books. While there are plenty of good articles on the Internet, the quality of books is better.
- They have better writing as writers they are edited better.
- They have higher quality information as there’s better fact-checking and more extensive research.
Reading books is a better use of time than consuming online content.
How To Read More
- Think of reading as the default activity, like breathing and eating. Build the identity of someone who reads all the time.
- Carry a book with you at all times. Download books on your phone. Every spare second you have, read a sentence. Time spent watching TV, scrolling social media or binging Netflix is time you could be reading. When you’re eating, read. When you’re on the train, read. Waiting for someone? Read.
- Buy books that interest you without hesitating. When a book intrigues your curiosity, get it. If it doesn’t hold your interests or pass your standards, throw it away. You don’t have to read it if you don’t find it interesting. You can keep it for decor, sell it, or even donate it.
Expert readers don’t waste time previewing the books or waiting for deals. They get the book they want, and they usually have a stack of books they’re reading on their nightstand or in their Kindle.
- Quit books that aren’t good. Reading is like investing. You need to cut your losses quickly and cleanly. Read books you find interesting, but cut your losses when you doubt reading it. It’s okay to be wrong when picking books.
How many pages should you read before calling it quits? Use the rule of ‘100 pages minus your age’. Life is too short to read books that aren’t adding value to your life. When you’re young, you have more time, but you also know less about what you need and what interests you. When you’re older, you need to be more ruthless about quitting books.
Maybe Sapiens is not for you. Maybe Shakespeare is not your thing. If you don’t find it interesting, stop wasting your time. Move on. You don’t need to complete each book cover to cover.
- Get a Kindle.
A Kindle makes it easy to read. We go scroll Twitter all the time because it’s easy. Having a Kindle makes it easy to read a book and quit scrolling.
A Kindle makes it easy to get books. When I hear a book recommendation, I can buy it on Amazon and start reading it a few seconds later.
A Kindle makes it easy to highlight. With services like Readwise, you can automatically export these highlights into your note-taking app and browse them. (P.S. Students get it 50% off)
- Read 20 pages to start the day.
20 pages work because it is small enough that it’s not intimidating. Most people can finish reading 20 pages within 30 minutes. If you do it first thing in the morning, other urgent matters won't distract you.
You can read more, but it’s important to start small and ground the habit before growing it.
20 pages seem small, but it adds up fast. I’m surprised by how many books I read when I commit to reading 20 pages a day. I also read at other times. But, I make reading 20 pages in the morning as a hard and fast rule.
Some Kindle books don’t have page numbers. Aim to read 10-15% of the book instead, which is usually 20 pages for most books.
With this pace, I’ve completed 2 books so far in 2021.
- Keep a book or your Kindle next to your bed. It’s easier to make yourself read in the morning if you don’t need to get out of bed. Don’t put a phone next to bed. Swap it with a book instead.
- Put money on the line. Tell someone you’ll give them $5000 if you don’t read 20 pages a day. You can also use trackers like Beeminder. I have to read 20 pages every day, or I’ll lose money.
- Have a list of books you want to read for the year. You can check out my list for 2021.
What To Read?
When you read, read what interests you. If that’s Harry Potter, then read Harry Potter. You don’t need to read Hamlet if you don’t find it interesting.
What’s important is to build the habit of reading. When you can identify yourself as a reader, start reading better books.
I usually read books recommended by other successful people. Whenever I talk to someone I admire, I ask them about the book that has the highest impact on their life. I also go through goodbooks.io to find books by other successful people.
Reading more books is not about learning how to speed read. It’s about putting in the time and building the habit of a reader. Reading isn’t urgent, but the benefits compound.
By reading 20 pages a day, you’ll read 30+ books in a year. In a year, you’ll be able to look back and see an improved version of yourself.
Start reading today.
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