How To Read 20 Books A Year

Sounds daunting, doesn’t it: One year/20 entire books read.  For some of you, it’s a piece of cake and for others, “It had better be Harry Potter or 50 Shades!” Here’s the reality: Readers are leaders of society. They earn more, deliver more value, lead more people and respond to adversity better than the average. 

Reading expands your capacities to think, feel and problem solve.  However, based on research we’ve done at Deeper Media, the average professional reads less than 2 non-fiction books a year, cover-to-cover.  On the flip side, the average CxO reads about six.  Readers are leaders. 

This is not a matter of will.  It’s a matter of having a knowledge-acquisition strategy. If I had to point to one system that’s changed my business life, it’s my personal system for reading 20 (great) books a year to double my value.  Here’s the skinny: 

Buy Books That Are Interesting To Your Outcome – Not just interesting or intriguing books, mind you.  Books that might change your situation, solve a big problem, give you a winning perspective.  I think of business book shopping as looking for brain-food for my issues at hand.  Start an Evernote and enter any books you read or hear about that might serve your current mission. 

Buy 50 Books a Year and read 200 Samples – Face it: You invest five to ten hours of your life in a book…don’t let bad ones ruin your POV about reading.  The key to being a voracious reader is being judicious about where you invest your time.  While most samples don’t give you the entire picture, frequently, you’ll get right away whether the book is worth finishing (buying).  Go to bookstore, invest an hour every other week, and buy a few every visit.  If you aren’t taking notes and racing your mind by page 100, you likely need to quit the book and move on to the next.  (PS – I don’t read reader reviews.  They are usually not helpful, accurate or aligned with my perspective on reading.) 

Make It Convenient To Read – Benjamin Franklin was a voracious reader because he carried books with him everywhere he went.  He stashed them in carriages, guest rooms and inns and when a slice of time presented itself, he cracked open a book.  You can carry books with you easily due to eReaders.  The next time you are stuck waiting on service or in transit, instead of using your smartphone to check social media, read a book instead.

Share What You Are Learning – Like gratitude, reading becomes more valuable when you share the experience. Inject ideas or surprising findings from books you are reading into conversations at work. Give books as gifts to colleagues or customers, and deliver a succint description of what the book will do for them. Share your recent reads (and recommendations) on social media. 

This will create a positive feedback loop in several ways.  First, people will reciprocate with their own recommendations or personal experiences.  Share enough, and soon, you’ll be swimming in trusted book recommendations.  Second, by sharing the knowledge, you’ll feel rewarded for the time you’ve invested in reading.  This will only stoke your desire to read more! 

What are you reading?  Why should I read it?  Post it in comments.  If we get more than 10, I’ll pick out someone and give him or her … a book!