“We read a lot. I don’t know anyone who’s wise who doesn’t read a lot. But that’s not enough: You have to have a temperament to grab ideas and do sensible things. Most people don’t grab the right ideas or don’t know what to do with them.” – Charlie Munger via Farnam Street
We all know deep down we should be reading more books. The same is true for our kids as well. In today’s distractable world it is increasingly easy to get caught in a do-loop of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Netflix. One of the big hurdles in reading more is the notion that we should be reading BIG IMPORTANT BOOKS. You can easily picture them in or your mind or in an unread stack by your bed.
There is nothing wrong with making things a little easier on yourself. For example, don’t finish a book if you don’t like it. There. You just saved yourself some time and took the pressure off. We all know the feeling, from school, of having to read an unpleasant book to the bitter end. Just don’t do it. You are an adult. You don’t need anyone’s permission to stop reading a book mid-way.*
We all know podcasting is on fire at the moment. The things that make podcasting so easy are also there for you when it comes to audiobooks. Now that everyone carries a supercomputer in their pocket, you can easily listen to books during your commute, workout or on that long walk. You may have to adjust what kind of material you want to consume through your ears, but it is a great option.
Another way to read more is to have a book handy on your phone. The Kindle app being the most obvious way. Grabbing a few minutes while waiting in line or on the train is a great way to up your reading game. However not every book works equally well in this framework. Harry Guinness in the New York Times wrote about how “bite-sized books” are an ideal way to kick-start a new reading habit. He writes:
“Really, bite-sized books are what you make of them. I started out with a collection of interviews, gradually moved on to essays and short stories and finally, once I was in the habit of reading any time I had a few minutes to spare, straight-up fiction. Since I use the Kindle app on my phone, I don’t even have to think about carrying a book with me.”
Naval Ravikant at Startup Boy was recently talking about ways of making reading easier for people. Motivation being a big problem. He has a great piece of advice for people wanting to up their reading game:
“Everybody I know who reads a lot loves to read, and they love to read because they read books that they loved. It’s a little bit of a catch-22, but you basically want to start off just reading wherever you are and then keep building up from there until reading becomes a habit. And then eventually, you will just get bored of the simple stuff.”
Some kids glom onto books at an early age. Others need some additional prompting. Josh Brown at The Reformed Broker wrote recently about how exposing his sports-loving son to The Players Tribune did wonders for his interest and desire to read. He wrote:
The stories on Players’ Tribune are written in plain English, by athletes, not professional writers. But they’re well edited and beautifully told. They share the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, as all sports stories do, and they leave the reader with a true appreciation for what it means to be on the court, in the field, at the game. I can’t recommend the site enough, for all readers – but for young boys and girls who are at all interested in sports, it’s an amazing resource to expose them to the joy of reading.
Reading stuff you like makes it easier to keep at it. Like Naval says: eventually, and naturally, you will move onto to other kinds of material. So keep a book you want to read handy. Don’t feel like you need to finish any particular book. Oh, and enjoy.
*This is much easier advice to take if you are borrowing these books from your friendly neighborhood library. Most libraries make it pretty easy these days to borrow e-books and audiobooks.