The Simple Truth Behind Reading 200 Books a Year From alphabanklog
The Simple Truth Behind Reading 200 Books
When I first found this quote of Buffett’s two years ago, something was wrong.
It was December 2014. I’d found my dream job. Some days, I would be there, sitting at my dream job, and I would think. My god, what if I’m still here in 40 years? I don’t want to die like this…
Something wasn’t right. I’d followed the prescription:
In January of 2015, I found Buffett’s quote. Also I decided to read. I was going to read and read and read and never stop until I got some damn answers.
I didn’t quite make 500 pages a day, but, in these last two years, I’ve read over 400 books, cover to cover. That decision to start reading was one of the most important decisions in my life.
I want to say reading 200 books a year is an amazing thing. But the truth is, it’s not. Anybody can do it.
All it takes is some simple math and the right tools.
1. Do Not Quit Before You Start
Joe will then go on to make up reasons to justify his belief without doing any deep thinking at all. These might include “I’m too busy,” “I’m not smart enough,” or “Books just aren’t for me.”
But what if we go a little deeper? For example, what does it actually take to read 200 books a year? Before I began this project two years ago, I stopped to do the math. Here’s what I found: Reading 200 books a year isn’t hard at all.
It’s just like Buffett says. Anyone can do it, but most people won’t.
2. Do The Simple Math
First, let’s look at two quick statistics:
- The average American reads 200-400 words per minute
- A typical non-fiction book has ~50,000 words
Now, all we need are some quick calculations…
200 books * 50,000 words / book = 10 million words
10 million words / 400 wpm = 25,000 minutes
25,000 minutes / 60 = 417 hours
That’s all there is to it. To read 200 books, simply spend 417 hours a year reading.
I know, I know. If your brain is like mine, it probably saw “417 hours” and immediately tried to shut off. Most people only work 40 hours a week! How can we possibly read for 417 hours?
3. Find The Time
Here’s how much time the average American spends on social media and TV in a year:
- 705 hours on social media
- 2737.5 hours on TV
Wow. That’s 3442.5 hours a year spent on TRASH. If those hours were spent reading instead, you could be reading over 1600 books a year!
Here’s the simple truth behind reading a lot of books: It’s not that hard. We have all the time we need. The scary part — the part we all ignore — is that we are too addicted, too weak, and too distracted to do what we all know is important.
All it takes to start reading more is to take “empty time” spent Twitter-stalking celebrities or watching Desperate Housewives and convert some of it to reading time.
The theory is simple. It’s the execution that’s hard.
I’m not so perfect at it yet, but here are some tactics that have helped me get results.
I. Use Environmental Design
If you were quitting cocaine, would you keep it lying around the house? Of course not. Media is designed to be addictive. Moving away from media addiction can be as difficult as quitting drugs.
The biggest bang-for-buck changes here are environmental.
If you want to read, make sure (1) you remove all distractions from your environment and (2) you make books as easy to access as possible.
As an example, here’s my immediate environment:
Images courtesy of author.
The picture on the right is my smartphone desktop. Notice there are only two apps. One of them — the Kindle app — is for reading. The other is for habits… Which brings me to my next point.
II. Upload Habits
If you’re not familiar with habit science, my favorite book on the subject is Tynan’s Superhuman by Habit. It’s infinitely practical, and practical is all I care about.
Getting good at habit-forming took me years. Many of the mistakes I made were avoidable. If I could go back, I’d find a habit coach. Here’s how I see it. One game-changing idea from a good book is worth thousands of dollars. If a coach helps you read ONE more good book a year, you already get your money’s worth. (A shout out to Cherry Jeffs and Nathan Sudds, two coaches that have helped me out a lot.)
III. Go Multi-Medium
If your goal is to read more, you can’t be picky about where you read or what mediums you use. also I read paper books. I read on my phone. I listen to audiobooks. And I do these things everywhere — on park benches, in buses, on the toilet… wherever I can.
Make your reading opportunistic. If you have a chance, take it. If you don’t have a chance, find one.“I read a book one day and my whole life was changed.” — Orhan Pamuk