How Do I Read More?: The Importance of Reading

Reading is a fundamental skill and a fundamental joy. Reading is, to push the adjective further, fundamental. Period. There’s a quote by Warren Buffett that’s been knocking around for a while, where he credits the majority of his success to the amount of time he spends reading:

“Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will…”

In fact, studies have shown that successful people consistently credit their success, in full and/or in part, to reading. Between them, Napoleon Hill (‘Think and Grow Rich’) and Steve Siebold (‘How Rich People Think’) conducted interviews with over 1,500 millionaires and found this simple pattern emerge. Tim Corely (‘Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals’) found that, typically, rich people read for self-improvement whereas those who were not defined as ‘rich’ did so for entertainment, and Tim Ferriss famously asks his guests, all of whom are ‘world-class performers from eclectic areas’, about their favourite/most gifted/most important etc. books.

Reading works. Every mum and dad out there pushing books on your mini-me’s, keep doing it!

Which is why reading features as one of the specific goals for this year. One of the items for #project20nine, specifically goal 19 in the Developmental category, asks for 2 books per month:

Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 08.03.56

However, the challenge with this one is that if reading 2 books per month is as doable as folks like Tai Lopez, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffett suggest, then each month I’ll look to increase the number of books read in the previous month by an additional one. At most this would mean that by October 2018 I’ll be up to 13 books, and therefore across the year…a ginormous 90 books down.

I’ll be honest, that seems like a lot of books even for someone with a pretty good reading rate. Nevertheless, in true #project20nine spirit, I’ll want to use this opportunity to read a selection of some very specific books, whilst leaving a good percentage of the year’s reading down to circumstance, opportunity and recommendation.

Generally, the books fall into a few categories: Fiction [F], biography [bio], history [Hist.], business [B], travel [Tr.] and science/self-development [SD]. That standby list, in no particular order, looks a little something like this:

  1. Papillon – Henri Charrière [Hist.]
  2. Dune – Frank Herbert [F]
  3. The Sagas of the Icelanders – Jane Smilely [F/Hist.]
  4. Musashi – Eiji Yoshikawa [F]
  5. The Lone Samurai: The Life of Miyamoto Musashi – William Scott Wilson [bio/Hist.]
  6. The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikibu [F]
  7. Mažasis princas [The Little Prince, Lithuanian translation] – Antoine De Saint-Exupery [F/ SD]
  8. Chasing Excellence – Ben Bergerton [SD]
  9. Ken Liu – Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Legends of Luke Skywalker [F]
  10. Stephen King – On Writing [bio/ SD]
  11. Sir Richard Branson – Finding My Virginity [bio]
  12. Narconomics – Tom Wainwright [B]
  13. Phil Knight – Shoe Dog [bio]
  14. Hayao Miyazaki – Turning Point [bio]
  15. Ed Catmull – Creativity, Inc. [bio/Hist.]
  16. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss [F]
  17. The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson [F]
  18. Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual – Jocko Willink [bio/SD]
  19. Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell [SD]
  20. Mishima’s Sword – Christopher Ross [Hist./Tr.]
  21. Killers of the Flower Moon – David Grann [Hist.]
  22. Neuromancer – William Gibson [F]
  23. The Boys – Garth Ennis [F]
  24. The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific – J. Maarten Troost [Tr.]
  25. The Almost Nearly Perfect Couple: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia – Michael Booth [Tr.]
  26. Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K Corral – Mary Doria Russell [F]
  27. A Doctor’s War – Aidan MacCarthy [bio/Hist.]
  28. Radicals – Jamie Bartlett [Hist.]

And a small handful of the many yet-to-be published titles of interest:

  • Tim Ferris – Tribe of Mentors [SD]
  • Artemis – Andy Wier [F]
  • Year of the Locust – Terry Hayes [F]
  • Ross Edgely: The World’s Fittest Book – Ross Edgely [SD]
  • The Familiar 6 – Mark Z Danielewski [F]

It’s not exhaustive, but it may prove exhausting! A good early indicator though is that it took me about 3 days of dipping in and out of ‘Slaughterhouse Five’ to finish that one, but more of that in the monthly progress review at the end of the month!

More to the point is how exactly will I be able to read so much? My approach is lean, simple and, I hope, logical:

  1. Establish a routine
    1. Within each day I have dedicated reading time. It’s habit-forming and keeps things running like clockwork.
  2. Read a couple of books at the same time
    1. Perhaps this sounds counter intuitive, but I’ve long found having a fiction and a non-fiction on the go at the same time is a nice balance. Non-fiction during the day and a nice bit of fiction during the evening/before bed.
  3. Keep a book with me
    1. Simple. This way whenever I have a moment to flip through a couple of pages I can grab the book rather than default to scrolling through the ol’ FaceBook or IG feeds.
  4. Have a list
    1. #project20nine. Keeps a focus on future reading but also, and perhaps more usefully, is a great metric for measuring reading successes and recording the titles.
  5. Use page markers
    1. I tend to use scraps of paper and torn up post-it notes to highlight pages/passages/quotes that I’ve enjoyed in a book, as well as to provide breadcrumbs back to things I want to take a closer look at, research deeper or simply re-read. I also use those fancy little translucent sticky tabs if I’m feeling particularly flamboyant.

Reading isn’t a race so going in for speed-reading and reaching sprints is pointless. I’m reading to enjoy myself not to impress or simply go through the motions of finishing a book, as I mention here. Using a service like Audible has its perks but is generally quite expensive should you begin using it for more than one book per month. So that’s it: 5 quick and straight-up pointers for injecting a little more literary stimulation in one’s life. If you need me, I’ll have my nose in a book some place.


This post is part of an ongoing account of the final 364 days of being a 20-something. Today the author doesn’t feel a day older than he should. In fact, if you asked him how he does feel, he’d probably tell you he feels no different to the way he felt at the beginning of being a 20-something. He would also tell you how much he enjoys being however old he is at any given moment and that he feels hungry. But then again, he’s always hungry. 

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