Poverty comes in many forms, and neglecting to read books leads to all of them. We can certainly speak of material poverty, and it’s a demonstrable fact that people who read more books end up making more money. Not just a little bit more money either. I’m talking ‘what-are-all-these-extra-forks-even-for?’ kind of money.
But there’s also “mental poverty”, and what we can refer to as “poverty of soul,” which are both equally pernicious. So how do we avoid ending up like this? How do we avoid wasting our one and only lives in obscurity, ignorance, and pain?
Answer: We dust off our library cards (or our e-readers), we commit to the fact that reading books can literally save our own lives, and we arm ourselves with the knowledge we need to be able to read more of them, and to read more effectively.
5 Minutes Every Hour Costs You Everything
When someone else wastes your time, it doesn’t cost them anything. However, it costs you everything. Time is literally what your life is made of, and when you throw it away as though it were nothing, you’re committing an insidious form of suicide.
Thousands of years ago, the Roman statesman Seneca noted that we constantly chase money and possessions, yet we let time slip away as though we had an infinite supply. Those five minutes we waste here and there all add up over time.
So, a question: Which is more valuable, Time or Money? From mindless IG scrolling and wasteful meetings, to waiting around for others so that we can move forward with a project, we all waste so much time. That being said, the best way to save more time is to figure out how we’re spending it now.
So stay conscious! Track where your time is going, and you’ll see all these places where you’re mindlessly blowing through time that you can’t afford to waste in the first place.
“Books train your imagination to think big.” – Taylor Swift
Myself, I’ve been awake for about 8 hours today and I’ve already wasted 45 minutes. I know this because on my phone, I track how many minutes I waste each day, rounded up to the nearest five minutes. In my case, it was some IG, a pointless conversation I could have excused myself from, etc. Some days I waste 4 hours. It’s shameful.
Think about it: If you waste just five minutes out of every hour that you’re awake, and you’re awake for 16 hours each day, that’s 80 minutes you’re letting slip away into eternity, never to return. 80 minutes a day! That’s 560 minutes a week and 29,120 minutes a year, which translates to more than 485 hours a year. Every. Single. Year.
Please, take back some of that time for yourself and use it to read some of the best books ever written. When you think about it, it doesn’t take that much time to read a book. If you read 20 pages in an hour, then after 15 hours you’ve read a 300-page book. All you have to do is repurpose the time you would have wasted over the course of 1.6 weeks of running on autopilot.
In the time it takes for you to open a book and read just one sentence, your life can be completely transformed. In the time it takes to read 10, 50, 100 whole books? You’ll hardly recognize your literate, articulate mug in the mirror.
Switch Up Your Stack
There’s no need to finish one book completely before moving on to the next one. In fact, you’re killing your reading gains if you do this.
Now, I may get some pushback on this from people who say that reading more than one book at a time is too difficult for them. And hey, fair enough. We all learn differently. But I would argue that you used to switch back and forth between books all the time. In fact, you did this in school every single day!
You never just studied one subject in high school. Rather, you switched back and forth between textbooks, between subjects, period after period, day after day. Not only that, but you learned!
So give your big beautiful brain some credit! If you knew about all the complicated calculations that your brain has to make in order to even open a damn door successfully, then you might be willing to place more trust in its awesome power.
What I would suggest, in order to maximize your effectiveness as a reader, is to read in different formats, across genres. What do I mean by this?
Well, me, I’m just such a great big nerd that I have five different reading apps on my phone, and piles of physical books everywhere. But that just allows me to read wherever I am! If I’m driving to the gym, I have an audiobook going. If I’m standing in line at the grocery store, I have iBooks open on my phone. Wherever I go, there are the books.
For example, right now I’m reading Happy by Derren Brown (iBooks), Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell (physical book), Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (physical book), and The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler (audiobook), among others. Three nonfiction books and a book of poetry. Well, guess what? I don’t always feel like reading poetry!
Sometimes I read fiction too. It’s also not always feasible to be listening to an audiobook. So I keep my options open, and in so doing, I never run into a situation where I “can’t” read. I always have some book, in some format, in some genre, that I feel like reading, and that I’m able to read, wherever I am and whatever I’m doing. You think that lets me read more books? You bet.
“A peasant that reads is a prince in waiting.” – Walter Mosley
Hit the Books
The best books are like flowers planted in the garden of the mind. I truly believe that. I first encountered that idea in James Allen’s absolute classic As a Man Thinketh. But whereas Allen was speaking about our thoughts, instead of books specifically, the greatest books are where some of our greatest thoughts come from!
Don’t worry about not remembering every single thing that you read either. It all subtly changes you over time, and every book you read becomes part of who you are. Yes, “learning how to learn” is important, but don’t stress yourself out.
The thought I want to leave you with is this: We don’t need any more information. We are simply drowning in information, but what we really need is wisdom and action. Wisdom from the best books, but also action; action that helps us to crystallize our learning and attain to the highest heights of our individual potentialities.
There’s a time for reading books, and there’s a time for action, and so I want to make sure I remind you to stop waiting for the perfect time to start, stop waiting for someone else to come save you, and stop wasting so much time! You will never, ever get any of it back.
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