4 Ways to Read More Books

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Just when you thought you knew all the reading efficiency tips, there are more, thanks to Neil Pasricha.

Every year I make the same New Year's resolution to increase the number of books I read. It's a goal that never loses its relevance. The greater the number of books I read one year, the more I want to read the following year, and so on. The habit builds on itself and I, hopefully, get smarter, wiser, and more informed about the world around me.

If you're anything like me, then you probably click on every article that promises to help maximize the number of books you read. Strategies for reading efficiency are catnip to me, despite the obviously ironic fact that reading them takes time away from reading actual books.

Because of this, I am familiar with the usual 'rules' for reading lots of books, e.g. getting rid of distractions, keeping ongoing lists of books to read, scheduling time for reading, etc. I thought I knew them all, until I got an email from author and podcast host Neil Pasricha, whose biweekly newsletter I subscribe to. It was titled "8 More Ways To Read (A Lot) More Books." Quickly I realized that there are some strategies I do not know and could help take my reading to the next level. Here's some of what he suggests.

1. Cut out all news sources.

Pasricha says he no longer reads the news, but gets his updates by scanning headlines in the checkout lane at the grocery store. Mark Manson, who wrote The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, only reads the front page of Wikipedia News each day.

While that might sound a bit extreme – and we certainly don't want people to stop reading TreeHugger! – it's true that many of us spend too much time consuming pointless information online. Take a step back, cancel superfluous subscriptions, and focus on what adds the most value to your life. Then use your new spare time to read books.

2. Use a red light in bed.

If you like to read in bed, investing in a red-light head lamp can help. It will allow you to see the page clearly (and not disturb your partner), while aiding in the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness, and whose nightly release signals to your body that it's time for bed. Bright white lights have the opposite effect.

3. Organize your books using the Dewey Decimal System.

Usually found only in libraries, Pasricha thinks you should be using this filing system at home as well. It organizes books according to ever-more-detailed categories and the benefit, he says, is seeing where the gaps are.

"I couldn’t believe I only had three books in all of religion until I realized I only had two books in all of science! Who is Jesus? What is a tree? Don’t ask me! I spent one Saturday putting my books in Dewey Decimal System and, in addition to scratching an incredibly deep organizational itch, I now find books faster, feel like my reading is more purposeful, and am more engaged in what I read, because I can sort of feel how it snaps into my brain."

4. Talk to professionals.

Do not underestimate the knowledge of those who work in the book industry. For Pasricha, this means talking to the owner of his favorite local bookshop in Toronto and trusting her advice on which books to read: "I walk out with an armload of books that completely fit my emotional state, where I want or need to grow, and those that resonate with me on a deeper level."

Everyone should forge a relationship with their local booksellers. Librarians can fulfill the same role. These are people who handle books all day, every day. They are familiar with the newest published works, the awards lists, the hottest titles in a given topic. Talk to them always.

I'd also recommend subscribing to Pasricha's award-winning podcast, 3 Books, which I've been listening to for the past four months and really enjoy. In each episode he interviews a book-loving person – an author, seller, publisher, librarian, or YouTuber. Each shares his or her three most influential books, which Pasricha then reads and discusses on the podcast. The result is a fascinating list of titles that has certainly shaped my literary choices of late.