Priorities and Mathematics
Yesterday, we summarized why reading more is important. Today, we are going to examine the reading mindset and explore the mathematics of reading.
The Reading Mindset
The most fundamental thing you can do to read more is to reconsider how you frame the activity of reading. Consider why you want to read more: Is it because it’s something you should do, like flossing, or is there something deeper pushing you? I like how Ryan Holiday articulates this:
“The key to reading lots of books begins with stop thinking of it as some activity that you do. Reading must become as natural as eating and breathing to you. It’s not something you do because you feel like it, but because it’s a reflex, a default.
“…Look, where do you get the time to eat three meals a day? How do you have time to do all that sleeping? How do you manage to spend all those hours with your kids or wife or a girlfriend or boyfriend?
“You don’t get that time anywhere, do you? You just make it because it’s really important. It’s a non-negotiable part of your life.”
To read more, make it the priority. You must make it a “non-negotiable part of your life.” Later in the course, we will cover some things to make reading a bit easier and capture some lost opportunities, but if you don’t make reading a priority, the rest of these lessons will be of marginal value. In the 80/20 split of reading more, this is the 20% that will get you 80% of the results. Do this and the rest is gravy.
“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” —Erasmus
The Mathematics of Reading
Today, I also want to draw your attention to one aspect of the mathematics of reading: How long does it take to read more? I want to show you that making reading a priority does not equate to endless hours of cloistered reading.
If you don’t like math (I do), don’t worry. There’s nothing complicated here, but there is useful perspective.
Let’s take a few averages and see how long it takes to read a book.
• average reading speed = 300 words per minute
• average book length = 64,000 words
• average book time = 64,000/300 = 213.3 minutes = 3.5 hours
This suggests that it takes an average of three-and-a-half hours to read a book. If you read for ten minutes extra each day, that’s about an extra 60 hours of reading a year. That’s equivalent to an extra 17 books per year. You might read faster or slower, or read longer or shorter books, but that is beside the point. The point is that ten minutes a day, every day, adds up.
And if ten minutes sounds like a long time, note that the average person wastes about two hours a day on social media. Again, prioritize reading. And if you don’t use social media, remember: Time never “appears” for anything; you have to make it.
Review the key lessons below and complete today’s exercise. Tomorrow, we are going to take some sage advice from Stephen King (who laments that his slow reading speed only allows him to read 70-80 books each year) about how to read and expand on the theme of the reading mindset.
1. To read more, you must make reading a priority. This sounds simple, and it is, but it’s true.
2. Reading for just ten minutes a day adds up to about 17 books over the course of a year.
Today’s exercise is to read for ten minutes. Grab that same book from yesterday and read for just ten minutes. Do this, repeat this, and you’re on your way to reading another 17 or so books over the next twelve months.
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