Reading 3 books a month may seem daunting at first. However, with discipline and a good system, you can read at least 3 books every month and not go crazy at the same time. Reading helps you to learn more, be encouraged, challenged, and ultimately grow not only in knowledge but also in wisdom.
To be able to read at least 3 books a month, I must give you a small mathematical view that helped me, personally, to put this into perspective. When I realized how easy this was just based on pure statistics and numbers, then the idea of reading more every month did not seem too intimidating anymore.
The mathematical perspective
Here is how it works:
- A month contains an average of 30 days.
- An average nonfiction book has 60,000 words.
- The average person reads 238 words per minute.
Divide the 60,000 words in the book by the average 238 words per minute that the average user reads, and you get; 252 minutes. Now convert 252 minutes to hours, and you get; 4.2 hours.
And there you go. The average nonfiction book would take about 4 hours to be read. Think about that and then compare 4 hours with 30 days in the month. When you look at it this way, it becomes a bit easier to see how it is actually possible to squeeze 4 hours in the whole month to read just one book.
Now that we have a perspective of how easy this could be by just having a different perspective on the amount of time reading a book could take, all we need to do is to come up with a system that will help us accomplish this every month.
I believe that if you come up with a simple and effective system that can help you read the three books per month, it will keep you accountable and motivated throughout the process.
Since everyone has different schedules and priorities throughout the day, it would be impossible to come up with a system that works for every single person.
However, here is the one that works for me. I think it’s wide enough to be adaptable to almost every schedule, maybe with a few modifications.
To make it a bit more fair, let’s just say that the books you will be reading are at least 6 hours long. If you read 30 minutes a day, then you will be done with one book in 12 days.
If you start another book then it would take you another 12 days. And now, you are 24 days into the month having already read 2 full books, with only 30 minutes of daily reading. Not only are you reading and getting all the benefits of what reading provides, but you are also training your brain to read every day, and by doing so you are killing two birds with one stone.
So, now you are done with 2 books, and it’s been only 24 days of the month. How do you get the 3rd book in? You listen to it using something like audible.
An audiobook will also be around 4 to 6 hours, which you can listen to while exercising, or washing the dishes, or cooking, or driving in traffic.
If you live in a city where traffic is part of your daily life, then you can easily finish an audiobook in a few days. I used to drive to work and be stuck in traffic for a total of 1 hour (going into work and out of work). This means that in 1 week, I was already done with one audiobook. With this in mind, I could have listened to 4 audiobooks every month (1 per week).
I would not do that because you also want to give yourself time to process everything you have learned, and not fill your mind with too much information for the sake of just mindlessly gathering information.
But there you have it. That would complete the 3 books for the month.
Just to recap; read 30 minutes a day and in around 24 days you will have read 2 full books, during this time as you go on your daily activities like driving, exercising, etc. You read an audiobook. Total of 3 books for the whole month.
Now, here is a simple and effective system that I personally use that helps me accomplish the above:
The first thing I do is to prepare. I try the best I can to select the books I will be reading that month and buy them.
This helps me stay accountable to those books for the month, and it doesn’t allow me to waste time waiting for the books to arrive in the mail. So that as soon as I am done reading one book, I can jump into the other one.
When you start reading a lot, you will start creating some type of wish list where you can see all the books you want to read. Here is my public Amazon Wishlist. In preparation for that month, I always go to this list first and select the books I will be reading.
This doesn’t have to be rigid or strict though. Sometimes I select the three books I will be reading, but in the middle of the month I end up reading an entirely different book. It usually happens when I am motivated by a specific topic or theme. Or maybe something I hear moves me to read something else, etc.
Even though selecting your books is important, what is more important is the idea of just preparing as much as you can so that you can have a vision of how your reading will look like for the month.
The second thing I do is to schedule my reading time. You have to be intentional with your time. While this is not a post about time management, what is important to note here is that, when you schedule something—and you discipline yourself to always stay in course with your schedule—you will make your reading time obvious, and when it’s obvious, you are reminded that sometime in your day you will need to read. I wrote about this here.
And lastly, I always make time to remind myself to enjoy what I am reading. The first two help me to stay accountable, but this last one helps me to stay motivated.
I do this by highlighting and taking notes of quotes or statements I read in the book. I then transfer all those notes and highlights to a database I created to keep these nuggets of wisdom for future use.
Also, I make sure that one of the books I am reading (usually the audiobooks), are books that are more for pleasure purposes, than for learning purposes. This helps to keep a healthy balance between reading content you want to learn, and content you want to enjoy.
This is another reason why I like to make audiobooks the books that I want to enjoy. I don’t want to take notes or highlight anything, I just want to hear what the book has to say because I enjoy that type of content. I love listening to autobiographies, or thriller novels, or true stories of survival, and even fiction. Because of the type of content these books contain, it’s easy to just listen to it while you are cooking, or running, or driving, etc.
To recap: prepare by selecting books beforehand, schedule your reading time so that you can stay accountable, and finally find ways to enjoy what you are reading so that you can stay motivated.
A few more comments
I just want to make a few comments that I think are necessary.
Keep in mind that while this works for me, it may not work for you. You may not drive to work so you cannot listen to the audiobook at that time, in that case, you may have to adjust and find ways that work for you; maybe while cooking or washing dishes and cleaning. I know some of you may have children and find it hard to find time to read. Maybe you can read while the kids are taking a nap, etc. The bottom line is that there is always time, we just have to either find it in places that are wasting our current time or making the time in places that are not so much of a priority.
Also, while this blog is about how to read 3 books a month, it doesn’t have to be 3 books. Some of you may find it easier to start with maybe one book a month, and that is great! The point is to start and also to stay committed to reading. Sometimes you will read only 1 book, or sometimes you will read more than 3. Again, the issue here is not so much how many books you can read, but creating the habit of reading.
Remember not to be too rigid and hard on yourself to try and hit the 3 books a month. Sometimes you will need to drop a book and stop reading it if it’s not beneficial to you. One of the best things I’ve learned is to know when to quit reading a book you are not enjoying.
One last thing; too much information can also be bad. The wisest human to ever exist once said, “If you find honey, eat just enough– too much of it, and you will vomit.” (Proverbs 25:16). Too much intake without and outlet is also wrong. So make sure that what you learn you share with others, or write thoughts in a journal, teach a Bible study, or post in your social media, etc.
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Sources & Credits:
238 words per minute | https://psyarxiv.com/xynwg/
60K words in nonfiction books | https://nonfictionauthorsassociation.com/how-long-should-your-nonfiction-manuscript-be/