We all know about the magical, brain-boosting powers of reading. Reading for as little as six minutes each day can lower stress by 68%. It can also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, help you live longer, and make you more empathetic. And, of course, it can improve your language skills, vocabulary and knowledge base, which is beneficial regardless of what path you’ve chosen in life.
Why is it still so hard to read despite the fact that we know about all of these benefits? With social media updates, near-constant news alerts and other forms of media—like YouTube videos, new Netflix shows and podcasts—all competing for our attention, reading often falls by the wayside.
Considering the vast majority of us are stuck at home right now, there’s never been a better time to start reading more. Here are 16 tips from SUCCESS experts to get you started.
1. “Don’t try to get through a book, let the book get through to you. Every time you finish a page or a chapter, ask yourself:
- What have I learned?
- What can I share with others?
- What can I apply?
“You should also listen to a podcast or TED Talk by the author to understand the concept of the book more deeply and succinctly.”
—Jay Shetty, storyteller, podcaster and former monk
2. “A simple and effective way to read more books is to add on small chunks of reading time to your daily habits. For example, if you make coffee every morning, set the book you want to read next to your coffee maker. While you’re waiting for the coffee to brew, commit to reading three pages. The key is to make reading easy to do and, rather than saying you’ll read for 30 minutes, start with just five or 10.”
—Marie Forleo, best-selling author and host of MarieTV
3. “We have been given the opportunity to slow down. In this time where we are asked to be still, we have space to read. Let books guide you into a creative space where you can release anxiety and feel a sense of normalcy.”
—Gabrielle Bernstein, international speaker and best-selling author
4. “Start or join a book club. I’d gotten so wrapped up in digital news and social media that when my friend asked me to join her book club last year, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d actually read a book cover to cover. Finishing that first book club read was so satisfying. The process forced me to disconnect from the constant updates of social media and the 24-hour news cycle. I’ve prioritized reading more books ever since.”
—Stefanie O’Connell, financial expert and SUCCESS columnist
5. “Review the table of contents and read the chapter that resonates with you the most. Another approach I recommend is reading the introduction, the first chapter, a chapter in the middle and the last chapter. This allows you to glean the most important points of the book.”
—Simon T. Bailey, best-selling author, motivational speaker and SUCCESS columnist
6. “Make reading a part of your daily routine, whether it’s in the morning or before bed. You’re less likely to find time for something you enjoy if it’s not worked into your routine. Carve out a few minutes every day where you set your phone across the room, unplug and read a book you’ve been wanting to read.”
—Rachel Cruze, co-author of Smart Money and host of The Rachel Cruze Show
7.“I have always struggled with reading, but listening to audiobooks while working out has been a great way to consume more books.”
—Lewis Howes, best-selling author and host of The School of Greatness podcast
8. “If you take public transportation to work, commit to reading on your commute. I am also a fan of only reading old-fashioned paper books so as to minimize the distraction of texts and email alerts on a reader device.”
—Emma Johnson, SUCCESS contributing editor and founder of WealthySingleMommy.com
9. “The time of day you read can actually increase your reading speed and comprehension. According to my research, the optimum times to read are:
- First thing in the morning
- Immediately following a nap
- Immediately after or during aerobic exercise
“I also recommend keeping a book in your car or purse. Having easy access to a book makes it easier and more convenient to read. Over time, this will turn into a permanent habit.”
—Tom Corley, author of Rich Habits
10. “One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Miss a meal if you have to, but don’t miss a book’ by Jim Rohn. In an increasingly noisy world, it’s more important than ever to be proactive about what we consume. I enjoy audiobooks because I can get through more titles. Audiobook platforms often have a playback setting where you can increase the speed. Start by increasing it to the smallest increment (such as 1.25). It will sound quick at first, but your mind will get used to it.”
—James Whittaker, speaker and author of Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy
11. “Read great books that you want to read. These are two separate and important parts. If you read not-great books, you won’t want to read more books. (If it’s not great, stop reading.) And if you read books because someone else said you should—but you don’t really want to read them—you won’t want to read more.”
—Kindra Hall, speaker, author and president of Steller Collective, a marketing agency
12. “Ask yourself what you are looking to learn or what growth you want to achieve. Identify the books that will help you get there, then set aside a certain amount of time each day to read them. This is not a race, nor is it a marathon. Read for the pleasure, enjoyment and satisfaction that you are growing through the process.”
—Sam Silverstein, keynote speaker and accountability expert
13. “Because I read so much, I’ve gotten to where I no longer buy books but instead go to the library and check out two or three at a time. I sit in my quiet place early in the morning with a cup of coffee and a legal pad. A great way for me to retain what I read is to take notes about the book’s salient points. I include page numbers and references in my notes so I can go back if I need to re-read a passage that interests me.”
—Todd Burgess, speaker and executive coach
14. “I have a three-pronged method for reading more books:
- Determine why you want to read more books. Finding your “why” is far more important than asking “how to” because once you find the why, you’ll find the way.
- Decide what you want to extract from the books you read. Thousands of books are published each year. You must first decide what information, knowledge, entertainment or skills you want to extract from the books you read this year, or else you’ll quickly become overwhelmed.
- Figure out what you want to remember from each book you read. There’s nothing wrong with reading for reading’s sake. But if you want to access the information at a later date, then highlight, underscore, flag, bookmark, use sticky notes or keep a separate file with the information you want at your fingertips after you’ve set the book down.”
—Noah St. John, speaker and founder of The Success Clinic of America
15. “Each time we open a book, we open our minds to new ideas, fresh perspectives and better ways of living our lives and approaching our problems. Deciding to block out just 10 minutes every day to read a book can elevate the trajectory of your life. If you think you’re too busy to do that, consider that you’re too busy not to.”
—Margie Warrell, best-selling author and speaker
16. “Choose books that are written with the author’s summary or VIPs (very important points) already built into the manuscript. Oftentimes, this will give you 90% of the book’s true message, and, in turn, value.”
—Tony Jeary, author and executive coach
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