I had a goal to finish 2 books per week in 2020. It was quite the experience and I’m proud to say that I pulled it off.
A kind reader asked how I go about finishing 2 books per week and I thought I’d share my strategy.
Disclaimer: This is just what I do. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, nor do I promise that you’ll retain everything and be able to recite the 5th word of the 246th page on command (I couldn’t do that no matter how many times I read something).
- Start (or keep) listening to Audiobooks.
2/3 of the books I’ve read this year have been audiobooks.
I use a combination of Audible, Libby, and RB Digital.
We have all heard of Audible by now, but Libby and RB Digital are both apps that connect to your library account. I have a card from my county library and I can check out audiobooks through these 2 wonderful apps… for free!
I have found that Libby is the most user friendly of all three of these apps and typically has more current titles than RB Digital.
You can rent digital books if you want to strain your eyes staring at a screen even more than you already do, or there is a huge selection of audiobooks. Sometimes you may have to put the title you want on hold, but I haven’t had any real issues finding the books I want.
You can check out the book for 21 days which, if you follow the next step, is never a problem.
- Listen at 2x the speed (or faster).
My wife first heard my little trick when she stepped into our car that immediately started playing the audiobook I had queued up on my phone, playing at 2x speed. She asked how I could possibly understand what’s being said.
I told her, “Easy, I’m a genius.”
I then said, “While I’m going to assume you agree that I’m a genius, it’s easy to understand at this speed, watch.”
Of course, she immediately corrected me by saying, “Uh… don’t you mean listen?”
Good one genius.
Anyway… most apps allow you to adjust the listening speed. You need to trick your brain into thinking that 2x speed is normal or even slow. You’ll be amazed at how quickly this happens. I set the read speed to 3x and told her to tell me when she feels it’s at a comfortable speed. I then slowly decreased the speed until she said, “Stop.”
I said, “You’re comfortable here?! This is like 2.9x!”
She said, “No! Stop! The light is turning red!”
Classic back-seat-driver, (who sits in the front) always telling me how to drive.
At the red light I continued my reduction of reading speed until she said stop again. Of course, I had to reminder her that I am stopped and it turned into a whole thing.
Eventually, 30 minutes later, we got back to this awesome experience and we noticed that she had determined that the most comfortable listening speed was 2.15x normal. Just to show her how far she had come in life thanks to marrying me, I went back to normal 1x speed and her eyes burst open.
“That’s so slow!”
“Yeah… I know. Our brain is awesome!”
(This whole episode took less than 30 seconds. Your brain figures it out crazy fast).
I typically listen to fiction novels at 2.5 speed because I’m there for the story more than retaining details. Find out what speed works best for you.
- I’m always listening to an audiobook and reading a physical book.
No, not at the same time.
I listen to an audiobook every time I get in the car, work in the yard, go on a walk, or have an opportunity to listen to something but am unable to stand still and read a physical book.
I set aside a time every morning and every night to read a physical book. I still get in my fair share of Netflix and vegging on the couch, but I try to get through a chapter or two (or ten) at night.
- Share what you learn.
I was very lucky to work with another book worm who actually reads more books than I do (and she reads mostly physical books). We’d have jam sessions about the books we were reading, give suggestions, exchange books, and give each other books for birthdays and such.
I have since moved to a different place of work, but I still love getting her latest book recommendations. I have a few other friends who are avid readers and we do something similar, exchanging texts, going to lunch, and just talking about what we’ve learned from our latest book.
- Read a variety of different genres.
I’ve found that if I go on a streak of reading books in the same genre, I start to get burned out. For example, I’m a marketer by trade and if I read a couple marketing books, I need a break. They all start to sound the same after a while. Same with religious, self-help, steamy romance novels, etc.
I’ve read more fiction this year than ever before, dabbling in some sci-fi, action, drama, and racial diversity pieces. I’ve also read a couple poetry books that stimulated my brain in different ways.
I highly recommend checking out a couple books that address a topic from a viewpoint with which you disagree. Try and listen to the other side of the argument so to speak.
Get super angry.
Call the author and anyone who agrees with him/her crazy and evil.
Get super offended.
And then tell everyone how much you hated it!
Or… maybe you’ll learn a bit more about other people and find you have more in common than you thought.
- Keep track of what you read.
I keep a good old-fashioned spreadsheet that I’ll make available at the end of the year. I put down the date of each week and the number of books so I can make sure I’m on pace.
I also put the title, author, whether it was an audiobook or physical book, and rate the book on a scale from 1-5.
There you have it. My super-secret recipe for reading (at least) 2 books a week. I’m curious to know if you have any other suggestions to keep you brain stimulated.
Here is the 2020 list and up in the menu, there are links to other years’ lists.
If you’d like to get notified when I post something else or when I make my reading list public at the end of the year, consider subscribing.