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Keyy Blog

Unlock your true potential.

Written by Luke Summerfield
on January 11, 2016
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How long does it take you to read a book? ... two books? ... 52 books?  - What if I told you it's entirely possible to finish 52 books within the next year without becoming a hermit and ditching your social life?
 
It is totally possible to read a book a week on average and take your life to the next level because of it. Curious how this is possible? - let's explore.
 

Why Read? - The Mindset You Need to Have

Before jumping into just reading to read, it's important to take a step back and figure out what are you trying to find by reading. Is it for knowledge, relaxation/stress relief, fun, creativity, etc. Knowing why you're embarking on reading a book a week is key to reinforcing your commitment. 
 
For me, I see reading as my unfair advantage to fast track my life. Think about it... the world's leading experts are pouring their knowledge from years and years of discovery and experience into once central spot. If you read a book in a week, you're gaining what took that expert years to learn. 
 
Reminding myself of this is what excites me to continue to read, explore new topics and apply that knowledge in my own life. I can honestly say that reading a book a week has been (and will continue to be) an absolutely critical part of how I drive my life's performance.  
 

How to Read a Book a Week

1. Prioritize the time - Love the saying, "There no such thing as a lack of time, just a lack of priorities."
  • Reaffirm how important reading is to you and how it will help impact your life
  • Self-audit yourself and see where you're spending time 
  • Find places your spending your time that aren't helping you get to your goals.
    • Most people waste (my opinion) hours each week on shitty TV
    • And for those of you who are like, "I don't watch TV, I have Netflix!" ... same thing. 
    • LOVE @GaryVee's comment here... although about content creation, it's really about prioritizing your time. 
 
 
2. Always have multiple books going - You should have a selection of different books going for different moods/occasions. 
  • Audio Books - Audio books revolutionized the way I consume books. Until my mid-20's, my ADD was way too great to sit down and read a paperback. Audio books allow you to not only "read" books while doing other 

    You can easily speed up the rate in which the audio book plays (see below), which means you can get through a ~7 hour book in ~2.5 hours. For me, this is a big key to being able to read a book a week. 

  • Bite Sized Books - I love books that you can read in bite-sized chunks. Where each chapter is a complete idea and worth reading on it's own. These bite sized books are perfect to read before bed or when you find a random 10-15 minutes. 

    Because I'm reading these in little bites, it will typically take me ~2 months to finish a 200-250 page book. 

  • Paperback - Good ol' fashion paper books are what use when I either 1. Can't find an audio version -or- 2. Certain types of books I appreciate on paper vs. audio (ex: philosophy or poetry). Paper books are great for when you want to take an hour or five and simply relax. 

    For me reading at a regular rate, it typically takes me ~1 month to finish a 200-250 page paperback. 
It's also important to note that you should always have some book (paperback, kindle, audio, etc) ready at your fingertips at any given moment. There will be random pockets of time that you can take advantage of such as waiting in line or at the doctor's office. Not having a book easily available to read when you have a pocket of time is a #FAIL.
 

3. Increase Speed
- find unique and creative ways to improve the speed of your reading
  • Audio Books - One reason I love audio books is because it's pretty easy to slowly train yourself to listen to them at faster speeds.
    • I use the Amazon service, Audible. On Audible's phone app, it will let you increase the speed x3 normal speed.
    • Average book is 

      However, you can't just jump right to x3 speed or you'll struggle to keep up and retain information. My first time hearing x3 speed I was like, "WOAH - how the hell does anyone keep up with this?" But - with training I was able to work my way up to that speed and now if I listen to a book in anything under x3 it feels like we're going in sllllooowwwww motion.

      If the average book is ~7 hours, listening to it in x3 speed will cut your listening time down to ~2.3 hours. 

    • How to work your way up to x3 speed:
      • Start with three-five books on normal x1.5 speed.
      • Then move onto your next three to five books on x2... then repeat to x2.5
      • When you're ready to make the jump to x3, re-listen to an audio book you've already listened to. This will help with the transition as it's already in your brain to some extent.

      • Note - You can also listen to iTunes Podcasts at x1.5 speed


  • Paperback Books - I personally haven't dove into speed reading or short cuts for paperback books. Other than skimming the introductions (unless interesting), I read paper backs rather slow. This will likely be my next area to improve. 
4.  Find Unique Time for Audio Books - This is why audio books have changed the game for me. It allows me to find new and unique times to read. Here are just a few examples:

  • Commuting (work, gym, kids, etc)
  • Cooking
  • Getting reading in the morning
  • Running / biking / exercising
  • Waiting rooms
  • Roadtips / flying
    ... etc ...
 
5. Pick the Right Books - This seems like a no-brainer, however, it's critical that you take your time and do your research to pick books that you are truly excited to read and you know are good. 
  • Look for recommendations from industry experts. 
  • Search for "Top (topic) books" and then find the books that always appear on everyone's list
  • Read the 3-4 Star reviews on Amazon... as they are usually more detailed and honest than the 1 or 4 star. 
 
Sometimes you pick wrong, and that's ok. Don't feel obligated to continue reading an entire book you don't like. You can alway return to it in the future or give it as a gift to someone who you think might like it. You're better off cutting your losses and moving onto a new book that you're genuinely excited to read. This is also true if you're listening to an audio book who's narrator is horrible. 
 
6. Right Book for the Right Mood - One of the reasons I always have a few books going on at once is because I'll read different books when I'm in different moods.

For example, in the mornings when I'm full of energy I typically like to read non-fiction tactical books. This helps get my brain turning before starting the day. At night, I'll typically read more conceptual, fiction or philosophy books that are deeper in reflection and thought. 

I have to do a personal "pulse check" to see what type of mood I'm in before picking which book to continue reading. If there's a mismatch, I find it hard to pay attention and enjoy. Find a match, and it's a great experience. 
 
7. Plan a Reading Retreat - At least once a year (preferably more), book a cabin (I like KOA) in the middle of the wilderness and plan a weekend book reading retreat. Eliminate cell phone service, computers and internet and simply enjoy reading, writing and the simple joys. If you can't eliminate cell phones, delete all the distracting apps off your phone and don't re-download them until you're back home. 

If you're broke and can't afford a full trip, do a "stay-cation" in your city, but venture out for the day with a backpack filled with food/water/reading/etc. so you can stay out all day. again 
 
8. Vacationing? Try Driving Instead of Flying - If you're planning a trip somewhere, it may be worth your while to drive instead of fly. Not only will you save money and see the country, you'll also have a great deal of time to crank through books.
 
 
It's important to keep in mind the goal of why you want to read a book a week. If your first year trying you only finish 32 books (like I did on my first attempt), remember that although you didn't hit your goal of 52, you're still ahead by leaps and bounds from the previous year and it should be considered a win.
 
Comment below with your progress and/or any tips you've picked up along the way. 
Have fun and #ReadOn 
 
------ For Your Reference -----
Here's my track record with trying to hit a book a week:
  • First year (2013) = 32 Books
    • Didn't make it... but learned a ton and found a renewed love for books
  • Second Year (2014) = 62 Books
    • Why the # increased: Learned to increase speed of Audio and took lots of trips
  • Third Year (2015) = 54 Books 
    • Why the # decreased: Listened to a bunch of podcasts, so split time a bit

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