I have often been described as “well-read” even though I am not actually a reader. Obviously, I know how to read, but I have never found it particularly enjoyable even though I do find it valuable.
However, because I don’t gravitate to reading naturally, I usually arrive at the end of the year thinking I probably should have read more business or educational books. This year I set a goal to read at least 4 non-fiction books a quarter. This quarter I actually “read” six books. The trick for me, as a non-reader, was to try a somewhat alternative approach.
1. Join a Book Club
In my case, the book club is part of my mastermind group, but the premise is the same. Someone suggests a book to be read and then we read it at our own pace and discuss it on our closed forum on Slack. The accountability or peer pressure to actually read so you can discuss intelligently was a great motivator for me. It also had the added benefit of introducing me to at least one book I would not have read otherwise.
I have always avoided any sort of book club participation in the past, specifically due to the fact that I am NOT a reader. The first book of my quarter and my year was the book selected by the majority of the members of my mastermind group, so I decided I would be a good sport. Although I was not particularly struck by the author or the topic, I decided I would give it a go anyway. What I got out of it was different that most of the other folks, but valuable just the same. Ultimately I was reminded what I have known for years: there is always something to learn if you are open to being taught.
If you are like me and find yourself inclined to keep commitments to others even when you are not always good about keeping commitments to yourself, you might find a book club is a good way to get you reading. And in the process you may discover a treasure that you might not have ever found otherwise.
2. Leverage Small Amounts of Time
In some households the term “reading room” is a euphemism for the bathroom. However, I decided to instead make it an accurate statement and keep one book in progress at the ready on the back of the toilet.
These days, most business books are broken up into relatively small chapters or sections of just a few pages each. Although reading one complete section may mean I spend a bit more time than I would have otherwise, I am also effectively using time that might have otherwise seem wasted. On the whole, I find the arrangement to have more pros than cons.
This arrangement might not be the best choice for every book on your reading list. However, you may also find that it is a more efficient means for reading and processing the information shared in some non-fiction books. In my case, books that are more philosophical seem to work well in this environment. I read a bit and then have time to ponder and process the information as I go about my routine, allowing me to digest the book in small bites as opposed to a marathon session.
3. Broaden Your Definition of “Read”
With the wide availability of audio books, actual reading is no longer required in many cases. Once again, this will not necessarily be the best choice for all books or for all people, but there are probably a few options on your reading list for which is will make sense.
In my case, I have always been a good auditory learner; in other words, I am able to retain a great deal of what I hear. You can listen to a book while engaging in a wide variety of other activities. Many physical activities, whether exercise or hobby, that don’t require continuous active listening can be supplemented with an audio book. Most of my listening time occurs when I find myself in the car by myself. Once again I find that this is a great way to make more effective use of time that might otherwise feel wasted.
Because I am not 100% focused on the content of the book (driving is my primary focus), I usually end up listening to each book twice. Even so, because the time was already allocated to another activity, I don’t feel like there is wasted time. Instead, I know that I actually am gaining more knowledge than if I made traditional reading my only option.
My current reading list can be found in the sidebar. What are you favorite, must-read nonfiction books?