Episode 31: How To Read More Books

How To Read More Books

After spending the last two weeks listening to just about every seminar Jim Rohn ever gave (thanks YouTube!) I’ve been inspired to dedicate time to reading everyday.

Even though I love reading, in the past I’ve really struggled to make consistent time for it and I’ve always had a lot of very good reasons (excuses) as to why I can’t fit it in. But I’m managed to get back into the habit by making a few key mindset shifts and doing a few very simple things, so I thought I’d share them with you! So in this podcast episode, I’m sharing how to read more books. I hope you find it helpful!



Listen to the episode on the player above or anywhere you normally listen to podcasts – just find Episode 31 of The Smart Twenties Podcast!


today, I thought I would chat about how you can read more books or more accurately, some of the things that I've been doing to read more books in my life.


Hi and welcome to Episode 31 of the Smart Twenties podcast. This is a podcast where I share personal growth and life advice for women in their 20s. And today, I thought I would chat about how you can read more books or more accurately, some of the things that I’ve been doing to read more books in my life. And this episode is also going to be based on the premise that you already have the desire to want to read more books and you just haven’t been able to make it happen rather than being about why it’s really important to read books and how much you can get out of them and all of that sort of thing.

So I’m going to be sharing 10 different tips and things that I’ve done to read more books. In the last week I have read The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. I bought it on Monday, it’s Saturday when I’m recording this, so I finished it this morning and I also finished Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, which I started reading at the end of April. I’m pretty sure. Yeah, the end of April. And I just hadn’t made it a priority to finish it. So it was just whenever I could find the time that I was reading.

And then I’ve been listening to a lot of Jim Rohn presentations and seminars on Youtube, there’s so many channels that have his videos. He’s passed away now, but from when he was presenting seminars back in the day, and they’re really amazing. And I’ve loved listening to him talk also about the principles of personal development rather than tactics and business as well – he talks about and money and all of that. So if you’re looking for some inspiration, definitely have a look for him on Youtube.

So he’s been talking about reading and I was like – I need to actually prioritize it because I love reading. It’s something that really brings me a lot of joy to just immerse myself in a book and learn something new, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, and I just haven’t been prioritizing it. And I knew that I’ve been spending a heap of time just refreshing my feed on Instagram, and that wasn’t adding anything to my life.

So about two weeks ago, actually about two weeks ago, I decided to start reading more and add half an hour of reading to my morning routine. And then a week ago, I decided that I just needed to get my act together with social media not because social media is bad… I definitely don’t think that at all, but I just find that when I’m constantly refreshing it and constantly looking at it, it’s because I’m not being intentional with my time. It’s because I’m looking for a distraction from whatever challenging task I’m trying to complete. It’s because I’m really just trying to fill time with that so that I don’t have time for the things that are really going to stretch me.

So I made a rule with myself on Monday morning that I’m only going to check Instagram when I post, but even then not check it very much, or if I haven’t posted, just check it at 8:00 PM. And I’ve found that, if you’ve never tried it, it’s actually a really incredible way to really create mental clarity. At least it has been for me. I feel like when I’m constantly checking Instagram, it’s almost like I’m a browser with 20 tabs open. And then when I’m not checking it, it’s just like there’s one or two, it’s such a different feeling. It’s actually been very similar to the feeling that I get after I’ve been meditating consistently for a few weeks.

So I haven’t even had the desire now to scroll through Instagram when I’m on it. I kind of just see whatever the first couple of stories are because they’re the people I usually interact with the most and the first couple of posts, and then that’s it. So I’ve been replacing that time as well with reading. I was kind of checking Instagram at multiple times throughout the day. I’m not reading multiple times throughout the day, but I’ve taken that out of my life and no, not out of my life… you guys know what I mean! I’ve reduced that and then I’ve added in something that I really, truly enjoy, and that really adds a lot of value to my life.

And I know a lot of you guys are the same, you love reading. So I just thought I’d share a few tips and tricks and different thoughts that I have on how to read more books. So I’ll just jump straight into it, I’ve just written out 10 dot points, so I’m just going to chat through them.

So the first one is this idea: there is so much time in a day. And I’ve actually written this phrase, there’s so much time in a day, down on a Post-it note that I’ve stuck to my computer monitor so that I can see it all the time. And it’s actually a phrase that Jake Paul said, I know that a lot of people have different opinions on Jake Paul, if you have heard me talk about him, you know that I don’t actually really follow him for content, but I really think that he’s very innovative and has a lot of great ideas and a really great entrepreneurial mindset.

So I follow him to get that. And I was watching this video and he said in an interview, there’s so much time in a day. And I just thought that was really profound in a sense that most people say there’s not enough time in the day, there’s not enough hours. And he is getting so much done and he’s so organized with his time and is very intentional with his time and he says, there’s so much time, and I really believe that the reason he can do so much is because he believes there’s so much time in a day.

It’s not like the people that believe there’s not enough time in a day get more done. I really… I’ve noticed this across all the different interviews that I watch or listen to them all the time that the people at the very, very top have this really expansive view of time, that there’s a lot of time in in the day and the people who are more in the middle have this view that there’s not enough time in the day.

And I don’t think it’s that you get to the top and there’s more time, because as we all intellectually know that never happens. But also when you get to the top of whatever industry and you have a lot more demands on your time, it’s more so that I think that belief, there’s so much time in the day is what takes people to the top. So I’ve written that down on my computer monitor on a little Post-it note just to constantly… you know, that whenever you see something written, normally we have a habit of reading it. So if there’s something- a new belief you’re trying to create… it’s really a good idea to just write it down somewhere that you’re going to see it often because your brain will just read it.

So I’ve just written down, there’s so much time in a day and having that belief has really helped me make more time for reading. Because before when I was reading in the back of my mind, I’d be saying, there’s not enough time to do this, there’s not enough time in the day, I’ve got too much to get done. And I personally find that whenever I am really in that scarcity mentality around time, that’s when I actually waste more time because I feel so overwhelmed in stress that I try and escape those feelings by procrastinating and doing things that aren’t productive.

So maybe for some people that scarcity actually creates productivity. But I would really invite you to take a look at your life and to ask whether time scarcity is actually helping you be more productive, or whether it’s actually, making you procrastinate more because that’s what it definitely does for me.

So the first thing is really that I’ve been creating this belief: there’s so much time in a day, and I really found it helpful, and I think it’s a great idea to take inventory of how you’ve been spending your time. That’s definitely what I’ve been doing this week. I’ve really spent the whole week doing that. I read the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, and I’m going to do a whole episode on that coming up very soon. So I’m not going to get into it right now, but that book has some great questions about time, and even though the time who makes it sound like that you’re just going to be on a beach sipping piña coladas and not doing anything with your life. It’s really about how to be effective, how to make sure you’re not wasting your life just being busy with making money. Not realizing that a lot of your goals actually don’t need that much money for you to pursue.

And it’s a really amazing book and just has so many incredible questions and has really got me thinking about… really, I guess noticing that I’ve been spending a lot of time working for work’s sake and thinking about what I actually want to do with my time is something that I’ve been doing this week. So I’m going to go into that in that episode. But the first tip is definitely, for me, at least it’s been to adopt this mindset that there’s so much time in a day.

Number two, I’ve written down to read things that interest you, not things that you should read. And I’ve found that in the past, I have tried to read things that people recommend that I’m like, I’m not really interested in that at all but everyone says you should read it, so I’m going to read it. And when you come at it with a mindset like that, it’s not really surprising that it doesn’t become a priority. So I really focus on reading things that I have a motive to read, that I’m really genuinely interested in this- goes for fiction and non-fiction, but you guys know that I often talk about the fact that I read and listen to and watch a lot of things that aren’t directly related to what I’m doing, so they might not be directly related to personal development or blogging, but I find that if you listen to someone else’s story in a completely unrelated field or industry or scenario, that it’s easier to pull out the principles and apply them to what I’m doing.

So when I say it genuinely interest you, that doesn’t mean that it needs to be related to exactly what you’re doing, but it’s mostly just to avoid this thing of people saying, oh these are the top 10 books you should read. And if you look at one and you’re like, oh! I’m just not feeling it- don’t read it, choose those things that will let you up there. There are so many books in the world that there isn’t enough time to read all of them. So make sure you’re spending your time if you do want to be reading more on really those things that should… that will interest you.

Number three is to make it a habit and ideally a ritual and a ritual that you really enjoy. So what I’ve been doing, as I said is, I’ve been reading for half an hour after my morning routine, and I do have the luxury of… I did just sign up for a co-working space, so I’m not going to be working from home, but I do have the luxury of having a lot of control over at my time though, in all honesty, we all have control over our time, and if we’ve chosen to work a certain job, we chose that because we want the money and we all… if you have the privilege of being able to listen to a podcast, then most likely, you have control of your time.

So anyway, I have added 30 minutes of reading after my morning exercise, and I had been reading before in my office which I’m currently sitting in now, but it’s winter here in Australia, and it’s really chilly down this end of the house in the morning because there’s no sunlight down here. And I noticed in the kitchen, at our kitchen table, there’s this amazing sunlight that comes in in the morning. So what I do, is I take my book, I get a cup of tea and I sit across two chairs. I have my bum on one and my legs up on the other one, and I’m basking in the sun and I can hear all the birds outside, and I sit there reading my book and having my earl grey tea, and it’s just really enjoyable.

So I love reading books and I love reading them wherever I am, but having it in that certain place and doing that at the same time of day, every time really makes it easy to make it a priority, and I look forward to doing it, and often I want to read for way longer, and sometimes I do allow it, and sometimes I know I just have to do other things, but it’s really helpful to make it a ritual. So if you’ve been wanting to read more books, I definitely recommend thinking about what would make this really amazing. And I love reading books on the beach, but I don’t live near the beach.

So sitting in the sun and it’s the morning sun so it’s not really harsh or anything, but sitting in the sun having tea… it just is really, a really similar experience to me. So I definitely recommend thinking about how you can create that kind of thing, somewhere in your home, like it just took me really looking around the house and being like, hey, there’s really beautiful sunlight in the kitchen in the morning, so I shouldn’t be sitting in my office because it’s freezing in there, and it really isn’t as enjoyable and not as comfortable when I’m reading.

So number four is to aim for small amounts of time at first. So I would recommend 10 to 15 minutes. I definitely… the kind of person that would have the tendency to be like, I need to read for a minimum of one hour and have that really all-or-nothing mentality towards it. But I find that by starting small… so for me, I’ve said 30 minutes because that’s really achievable with my schedule.

But if you’ve been struggling to fit it, and I definitely recommend just 15 minutes, you can read quite a bit in 15 minutes and to make that at a certain time every day. But if you want, you can have it like 15 minutes and then if I’m enjoying it, I’ll keep reading. But I recommend not trying to make it like an hour especially if you’re still in the mentality of there’s not enough time in the day, then it’s really challenging to justify it, which I’ll be talking about in one of the other points as well.

So number five is to highlight tab and keep a journal if you’re reading a non-fiction book. So I’ve written a blog post about how I get the most out of non-fiction books, and I’ll have it linked in the show notes for you if you haven’t read it before. But basically, when I’m reading a non-fiction book, I have my highlighter with me, so nerdy but I love doing it. I have my highlighter, and then I have different colored tabs, which I just got for office works. I didn’t get the really nice plastic ones because they’re more expensive and I want bulk tabs. So I just got the paper ones with a few different colors. And I have a different colored tab for each of the following: quotes, book recommendations, journal prompts and to-do items. And the quote is really just things that stand out to me or the wordings really nice or something like that. Book recommendations in The 4-hour Workweek actually haven’t used that tab once, but often in books, they’d recommend other books or other authors. So I like to keep track of that.

Journaling prompts… So that usually isn’t explicit generally in prompts that the author has provided. They’re normally different questions or ideas throughout a book that I’m like, oh I actually really want to think through that on paper and then to do items often, especially personal development authors will make recommendations for to-do items. So I tab those and the key part of this is then after you finish coming back to the book and really processing it again, looking at those tabs, going through it with your journal and doing the journal prompts, doing that to do items. So I’ve already done maybe about a quarter of the journaling prompts for The 4-Hour Work Week, and I just mark on them when I’ve done it just so I can keep a mental tab and I really enjoyed that.

And Jim Rohn… when I’ve been listening to his seminar, he talks about keeping a journal full of the ideas that you get from books and all different sorts of places. So I already have a journal that I use, and I do a thought download every day where I just write out everything that’s on my mind. I write my affirmations in them. It’s just a- what brand is it? J.Burrows blacklined notebook undated from office works that I get, and I’m just going to be adding in all the notes that I get from books. And even though that does seem really time-consuming, it’s when you actually apply a book that it is so transformative.

And I think that of the reason that we can get disheartened with reading is because… you read a book feeling really inspired and then your life continues the same. But books are incredible. People spend years writing them and they include all sorts of great things to do, and they only work if you do them, not read about them. So if you feel like you haven’t been getting the most out of your reading time, that’s definitely a habit I recommend adopting. And I am going to be starting to add all of my notes to my journal. I’m not necessarily going to write out every single quote or anything, but from The 4-Hour Workweek, I know there were quite a few different ideas in here that were really profound.

I’m going to be talking about them in the episode on it, and I am going to be writing out some of the great questions, and there was also a really great poem at the end of the book. So I’m just going to keep that in a journal. The next one…

Number six is to create a goal. So this is just something to help you keep track or keep yourself motivated in a sense. Before I was just kind of reading, however often I could, and obviously, with a goal like that, it’s pretty uninspiring and doesn’t really encourage me or motivate me to read and to make it a ritual and to keep picking up new books.

So my goal at the moment is to read one book per week, which I have done this week. This is also coinciding with me, actually getting strict with myself again with having a day off. And I will be allowing myself to read on my days off. So that’s going to be helping me a lot as well. But I just noticed that I haven’t had a day off properly for quite a while whenever I have time, I’m like, great, I’ll do some blogging, which means that I just have let tasks really expand to fill the time I have. I haven’t been more productive and I haven’t been as well rested either.

Tomorrow I’m having completely off blogging and I will be reading on my days off, not for the whole day but for part of it, because I really love doing it, and I will also be going to the bookstore and different things like that to get new books and using BookDepository.com because they are my favorite because they do free worldwide shipping. For me getting books from Amazon, the shipping can be expensive. And I just find Book Depository, even though it takes three weeks for a book to get here, they’re often cheaper and the shipping, if I order just one book, it doesn’t matter. So I’m not sort of tempted to order books that I don’t want to read. I am also going to be just ordering books as a… I’m only going to order them when I’m going to be reading them next or in the next two books because I’ve had a habit in the past of ordering lots of books and then just not reading them. So I really want to only order books right before I read them and with the website like Book Depository, or going to a bookstore, I can do that. So I don’t want to accumulate books that I haven’t read.

So yeah, create a goal… doesn’t have to be one book per week. It can be one book a month, it can be on a per year basis. You might want to read five books per year, 10 books per year whatever it is. But I think it is really nice just to have that goal, and I am going to be creating a list in my journal of all the books I have read as well, because sometimes it’s easy to forget, but that you read a whole book. So yeah, that’s that one.

Number seven is to use Audible or Kindle. So most of you probably know about both of them by now, but Audible is an app they’re part of Amazon pretty sure. And you can listen to audiobooks if you haven’t tried ordering books, holy crap, that the most amazing thing.

It’s not like someone reading out in a monotone voice. I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter series, I’m at Harry Potter 6 and it’s so magical because Stephen Fry is reading it. He does different voices, different accents for all the different characters. It’s even better in a sense than reading it myself because he just adds so much character to everything. So that’s been amazing.

And I’m finding that I love Audible for stories and fiction. Whereas, when I’ve listened to personal development books, I don’t get nearly as much out of them. So I listened to The 4-Hour Workweek on Audible a few years ago, which gave me a lot of great ideas, but I didn’t stop and answer the questions, and I didn’t really go through it in the same way that I have this time.

So I feel like, for me, my plan is to read books that are personal development and business books, the hard copy. I just loved the physical copy, even though I could read it on Kindle and still highlight. That’s just something lovely about a real book that’s not a screen that I really enjoy. And I think it’s definitely worth the money. I was telling my dad the other week that I think he’s really created this belief in my mind that money spent on books is always money well spent because he’s an avid reader.

So I love spending money on books and having the physical book, and I’m going to be doing that first. And then, if it’s a great one, then I am going to listen to it again on Audible. But I find that doing the first pass with a highlighter and tabs for me really gets me the most benefit. But Audible, if you haven’t got the time to sit down with a book or you don’t have the desire to read it, maybe you just always feel tired or whatever or you just want to make the most of the time that you’re doing life admin tasks and you’re sick of podcast, whatever it is, definitely check out Audible.

I have a subscription that is, I think 15 dollars a month, which gets me one book credit per month, and you can buy additional books on top of that. And I probably shouldn’t say this, but I also let other people log in multiple other people look into my account and listen to my books as well, because it tells you, if multiple people are listening to the same book or you’re listening to the same book on multiple devices, which is what it’s designed for… if you go to Listen To It, it’ll ask you if you want to continue from the time that you last listen into that device or the time last listened to overall.

And I always just select Time Last Listened To on that device, and it means that everyone keeps their place. So if I should share that or not, but that is something that I do.

Number eight is to really see books as an investment and to see reading as an investment. Again, it is important to be reading things that interest you, things that you have a motive to read. But I find it before like I was seeing reading as something that was stopping me from being productive.

And when I’ve changed that belief to- hey, there’s so much time in a day, which if you can adopt that belief, it’s actually such a different feeling.

Like it’s midday the moment. Normally at midday on a Saturday when I’m working like, oh my god, is nearly the end of the day, and I just… the time just slips by, but I’ve just have been really present. I think it just makes me feel a lot more present when I have this belief there’s so much time because I’m not rushing through everything. I’m really enjoying every little thing that I’m doing and I’m not having this belief that I should be farther along or I should be doing something different and I can just be present.

So normally at this time of day, I’d be freaking out, which isn’t helpful in the slightest, but now I’m like, oh it’s only midday and I have still so much time and that belief alone, if you only take one thing from this episode, be it that you put that sentence: there’s so much time in a day on a Post-it note and stick it wherever it is that you do most of your work from, and it will start to change things.

So definitely see it as an investment in yourself, your personal development, even if you’re reading fiction or something that’s not technically personal or technically business or whatever it is. I think all reading is personal development.

And for me at least, I find that reading a book is a much better use of my time than scrolling my list of Instagram, no matter what I see on Instagram, even if it’s the most inspiring things, I always find that immersing myself in a book, I feel much better, I have better ideas. I feel more present.

I’m not sure what your experience is, but that’s mine. If you have been finding it hard to make the time, really start to look at the beliefs that you have around reading, do you see it as a waste of time? Do you see it as something that’s stopping you from being productive? And is that actually a belief that’s helping you?

Number nine is just a note on variety. So I have a tendency to read, basically just personal development and business. And I also read fiction at the moment. I’m reading After You by JoJo Moyes, and I just bought, Still Me, I think, which is the third book in the series. And I do love having fiction books. And as I said, I was listening to Harry Potter. I am listening to Harry Potter on Audible, which definitely isn’t the first. I have heard the Harry Potter story, but it’s just one that I love it really, it just like takes me back to my childhood and it’s great for when I just want have my mind engaged, but I don’t want any new information.

So really, I think it’s great to have a variety, and if you find that you’re kind of reading the same books all the time, it might be more inspiring and motivating to have a variety of books to read- personal development business, maybe you want to read about health. Maybe you want to read all different kinds of fiction books, whatever it is like this isn’t about how to read more personal development books, though, I obviously love them, but it’s just really about how to read more of whatever it is that you want to read.

And number 10, and this one I know some of you were going to disagree with, but I will say it anyway because I’m a huge believer in this. Don’t finish bad books, do not finish a book you hate. I’m really good at not finishing bad books. And there are some books that I have 20 pages left and I’m like, this is not worth my time, like nothing, I’m not intrigued about what’s going to happen, there’s no point me reading it. I’m literally… I have no desire to find out how this ends, and I would just then spend that time reading something I do actually want to enjoy or that I would enjoy or learn from.

I think it’s really about the opportunity costs more than anything else. And I know a lot of people think once you’ve started a book, you have to finish it, but if you’ve been struggling to make time to read, you have that belief… when I went traveling with one of my friends, she had this belief that you had to finish a book no matter how shit it was.

So we traveled for six weeks around Europe… I read six books, and I don’t think she even finished one because the first book she read, she didn’t like she couldn’t get into it. And she spent six weeks struggling with this shitty book and hating the time that we were reading, because she had to read, in her mind, she had to keep reading this book, and I was like, just stop reading it and start reading something else… oh no, I have to finish it. So anyway, I always think of that now with finishing books.

But if you have this idea that you need to finish a book, it can deter you from reading books that you’re not sure you’re interested in because you don’t want to then read it and find out it’s not good, but have to keep reading it. If you have this belief, you join it to finish bad books. You’ll actually be motivated to pick up more different kinds of books because you’re not going to be scared that there’ll be shit and you’ll have to read them because you can just abandon them if you want.

And yeah, the other thing is, it’s really the opportunity cost that if you are reading a book, you aren’t getting anything out of, then you’re not going to have that time to spend on something that is actually going to add a lot of value and enjoyment to your life.

And I know some books they do take a while to get into, and sometimes there are a lot of books I have read that it’s kind of like a hundred pages that they just get amazing and they’re incredible books after that. So I kind of make it a rule like a hundred pages is what I would normally give a book. If by hundred pages I’m not into it, and that’s usually when I abandon it. Sometimes I’ll keep going if I am interested, but then the story ends up being shitty. And I just stopped.

I know everyone has a different opinion on that one, but I really don’t think it’s a helpful belief that you need to finish bad books, shitty book and that’s just my opinion, I’m really cut-throat with it, but definitely, it’s something to consider. If you have that belief, is it actually helping you? And is it actually deterring you from reading more books and finding books that are really much more intriguing and much more interesting?

So that’s all of my tips and thoughts on how to read more books. I have been making a big effort, as I said, to read more, and I am in for one book per week, which does mean that there will be a lot more episodes on books because I’m going to be doing an episode every time I finish a book, and that means I have two coming. I’ll be doing one on Thinking Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and one on The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss, and I will just be putting them out whenever I’ve done them basically, which will be soon because if I leave it too long, it starts to seep out of my mind.

But I do need to get at my journal and process everything from the book, and then I’ll be sharing it. And it won’t be a book review.

I’ve already done one on Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. If you’re wanting to listen to a book, I have not listened to the book. Listen to me talk about a book I read and share what I got from it. So yeah, it’s not a book review, just me sharing what resonated with me, the lessons I got from it, what I’ve applied from it, all of that sort of thing. So I’m going to wrap it up here. I hope you are having a lovely day. And if you want to see anything I have mentioned in this podcast episode go to the show notes, they’ll be at smart-twenties.com/episode31 and I will talk to you next time! Bye!

Author: Sam Brown