In response to my previous post, I was asked a question in the comment section of one of the social media sites. The question was about how I am able to consume so many books during the year. This blog post is an attempt to answer that question.
For context, during the last five years, I’ve read 86453 pages across 261 books. On average, that’s a bit more than a 330-page book per week. This number includes books I’ve consumed on Audible, and I will use the words “read” and “consume” interchangeably in this blog post. A book per week is a solid amount, but I know some people read more than me. I don’t consider myself an authority on reading, nor do I strive to be.
(that would be a weird thing to strive for)
I like reading. Books are both a source of knowledge and enjoyment for me. Since I was a kid, I have loved consuming books. I was lucky that my parents instilled a respect for knowledge and books early on. They were also generous in providing me access to many books. I don’t remember wanting to be the strongest or the fastest as a child. I do remember wanting to be smarter and seeing books as one of the means to that end.
I rarely read paper books. The paper books I’ve read during the last few years were all gifts. On occasion, I do enjoy reading the paper versions, and I appreciate having a lovely book with a note from a friend on my bookshelf.
(yes, the image above this blog post is deceitful)
My choice to consume books on Kindle and Audible is purely a choice of convenience. The lag between buying a book and reading the first page is less than a minute with a digital book. It does mean that most of the books I read are in English (while my native tongue is Lithuanian). I started consistently reading books in English around 2007. I was slow at first and often relied on a dictionary. It took a couple of years to feel comfortable reading books in what is a foreign language for me.
Because I enjoy it, I make reading a priority. I consistently choose to consume books instead of doing something else. As an example, I chose books over lectures during my student years. There were quite a few classes where, instead of listening to the professor, I was reading something from Jeff Atwood’s recommendations. I see it as a privilege that I’m able to prioritize reading. Not everyone can allocate time each day to consume books.
I read both fiction and non-fiction books. With fiction, my most common choice is sci-fi or fantasy. Earlier in life, the latter was more common than the former. These days, it’s the other way around - sci-fi is consistently my top choice as a genre.
I choose to consume that I believe I’ll enjoy, and I use Goodreads for discovery. I mostly avoid reading books that I should read. Practically, this means that I’ve been reading mostly contemporary writing and very few so-called “classics.”
Reading on my Kindle is my preferred way of consuming books. I have owned my current Kindle since 2015. It’s a Paperwhite with a built-in light. It continues to serve me well, despite being eight years old. I’ve been using e-readers since 2008 when I bought a Sony Reader. I switched to the Amazon ecosystem with my first Kindle in 2012.
I open up my Kindle almost every day before I go to sleep. Sometimes I read for ten minutes, sometimes for half an hour. But I very rarely skip it. It’s my most consistent reading habit. I’m entirely used to the Kindle’s built-in light, which makes bedtime reading a much simpler affair.
I bring my Kindle when I travel. In addition to reading before bedtime, I also read when on planes and trains. It’s also something I do during the day on the beach.
(reading about surfing has the additional benefit of being less risky than the actual thing)
Others, who observe me read, tell me that I’m pretty fast as a reader. While it’s secondary, I’m convinced it contributes to my preference and enjoyment of consuming stories and information through words on a page. I’m aware there are ways to increase one’s reading speed, but I haven’t researched or tried them myself.
I also listen to books via Audible. While I prefer my Kindle, audiobooks have their conveniences. I can consume books while walking to work, cooking, and exercising. I don’t always choose books in these instances. I also listen to podcasts and music.
Not every book works for me equally well in an audio format. I found memoirs and biographies a perfect fit for audio, especially when read by the author. A Promised Land, I’m Glad My Mom Died, Titan, Blood, Sweat, and Chrome are some of the books that worked well for me as audiobooks.
To be fair, I haven’t tried every genre as audio. Your experience might be wary.
If I have to summarize, my tips for those wanting to read more are rather simple: learn to enjoy reading and read what you enjoy. There are more books written than ever before in human history. I’m sure there’s a book that everyone can enjoy. Making reading a priority will then flow naturally from your enjoyment.
For myself, it’s difficult to imagine my life without books. Well, unless humanity invents a way to transmit information straight into the brain. While I then will miss the process of reading, I will appreciate the prospect of knowing kung fu.