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How To Read 3 Books Every Month And Not Go Crazy

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:

  1. A month contains an average of 30 days.
  2. An average nonfiction book has 60,000 words.
  3. 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.

The system

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.

Maybe you can comment below on what system helps you personally to read more.

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.

The overview

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:

Prepare

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.

Schedule

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.

Enjoy

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.

As mentioned above, I’d be very interested in hearing what you do to get more reading done. Maybe what system you use or what motivates you, etc. Comment here 👉

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.

What do you think? What are you doing to get more done? What are some of the things that you believe are stopping you from reading more every month? Maybe we can all pitch in a few thoughts here and there and help in any way we can. Comment below, or on the little green box on the side of this paragraph. I’d love to hear from you!

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5 Things You Can Do to Create a Habit of Reading

Buying a book is the best investment you can make. I have built two businesses because of the inspiration I got from books. I have grown in several areas of my life just from nuggets I get from the pages of some of the most amazing books out there. Therefore, creating a habit of reading in your life is one of the most important things you can do. This is why Walt Disney said:

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”

However, reading is usually not a habit that is found in the average American nowadays. For we have been conditioned to learn more from movies, T.V. shows, music, and pretty much anything that can think on our behalf, and at the same time be entertaining.

Yet reading still remains the number one method to learn something, and increase your capacity to think, be creative, and overall lead your life to success. With a little bit of intentionality, and desire, I believe that anyone can create a habit of reading books.

How to build a habit in 4 steps

Before I move onto some of the practical things you can do to foster a habit of reading in your life, I want to first briefly give an overview of the steps required to create a habit of reading. I believe that understanding this is the key for successfully creating an actual habit.

These 4 steps are taken from the amazing and useful book by James Clear, called Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. In my opinion, this is the best book on anything related to creating good habits.

Here are the 4 steps that will help you create good habits, and bad ones too!

1. Cue – Make it obvious

2. Craving – Make it attractive

3. Response – Make it easy

4. Reward – Make it satisfying

Habits are effortless when you hit all these 4 laws or steps. As you try to create a better habit of reading, keep these 4 laws in mind. The list below are some practical ways that have helped me personally with creating this habit. I will also place them under one of the 4 laws aforementioned so that you can see how they fit into the framework for creating habits.

Here are the first 5 things you can do to create a habit of reading:

Cue – Make it obvious

1. Set a specific time ahead

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.

My personal reading schedule - notice the highlighted fields.
My personal reading schedule – notice the highlighted fields.

The image above is my personal schedule entry for this item. Notice the highlighted fields. When I schedule my personal reading time, I make sure that I tell it a time, and a location. I also make sure that the entry is on repeat every day, and to show me as busy.

By scheduling your reading time, you will know ahead of time that you are going to read. It’s like if you are telling yourself that you will have a meeting with a book. In fact, that is indeed how it should be. Schedule a meeting with your book.

Craving – Make it attractive

2. Read what you can & enjoy

There are two things here:

Read what you can

This is very important, especially if you are just starting.

Read what you can. Don’t try to pick up Shakespeare, or Don Quixote, or some really difficult book just because everyone says that you have to read it – because it’s life changing or something.

While that may be true, if you are just starting to get into the rhythm of reading, you may want to start slow. Unfortunately, this happened to me and I realized that the books I was trying to read were too difficult to me.

In fact, here is a little bit about me — I was not born in the U.S.A, and English was not my first language. Not only that, but I also grew up having never read a single book! When I moved to the United States, I was 17 years old. I remember going to the Library in High School, and taking a reading test. The results showed a yellow color which meant that I could only checkout books with a yellow sticker on them.

That yellow color was an indication of my reading level. As a 17 yr. old in High School, I was only able to checkout 3rd. grade level books like Dr. Seuss and even here, I would not be able to finish a single book of his.

I started reading several years later but that experience in High School was a turning point in my life. So I learned to read easier, longer, and eventually I read great books! I fostered the discipline to stick to a schedule (coming up on point #4), and soon after, I was averaging 30 books a year.

Here are some suggestions for easier reads if you are interested:

As a Man Thinketh – James Allen

The Tale of Three Kings – Gene Edwards

The Prisoner in The Third Cell – Gene Edwards

Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl

One more thing you can do is to try an Audio Book. Having someone read the book for you, especially if you drive a lot, is such a blessing! But you know what is even better? What if you could have someone read you the book and you can follow along? 😮

Yep! That is possible if you have a Kindle and Audible. You can purchase the e-Book + Audible and … magic.

So, to summarize all this, just start with reading what you can.

Read what you enjoy

Now let me be the first one to tell you what to read – I have so many recommendations. You may be interested in a specific subject that you want to learn about, but you just can’t enjoy reading about it, at least not yet. It’s not true that you have to sacrifice your eyes, mental strength and life just to stick through one of those books.

There is a particular subject that I am really interested in, but I just cannot read that subject right now. For some reason, and in all honesty, I just don’t enjoy reading them. That subject is Sociology. But I hope that I can get there, as I continue to read and create a habit of reading, my reading capabilities will be stronger and stronger and I will eventually be able to read subjects I could not have read before, like Sociology.

I know this to be true because the same happened to me not that long ago with another particular subject, Apologetics. I was very interested in learning this subject a few years ago, I read 1 chapter of a book, and didn’t enjoy it. I dropped it, and moved on. However, while using these 5 methods, as well as a few others (look out for part 2 of how to create good reading habit) I am happy to announce that just last year I have read at least 7 books on the subject!

What I am trying to say is: just find something that you enjoy reading. Something that is interesting to YOU! As you continue to read, your mental and reading muscles will get stronger and you will eventually be able to handle any topic out there.

When you read what you can, you will find it easy to read.

When you read what you enjoy, you will find it pleasurable and enriching.

In either way, the point is to have fun reading, and that requires, at least in part that your reading is easy and pleasurable.

Response – Make it easy

3. Create a wishlist

Creating a habit of reading will also require to make it easy to read. I already mentioned, that you can start by reading something that you can. But there are other practical things you can do, like making sure you have a wishlist, and sticking to it.

This is something very simple, yet very powerful.

Another thing you can do to create a habit of reading in your life is to make a suggested reading list. For example, as you are reading a particular book, there are usually other books mentioned that you may be interested in reading. Some of those books are found as part of the main content, others are mentioned as footnotes, bibliography, etc. If you are reading something that is really interesting to you, I highly suggest that you also read what the author themselves read — simply add that book to your suggested reading list or “wishlist” and when you are done with the book you are currently reading, you already have your next book in line.

This way, you also don’t waste time trying to find something else to read lest you get derailed and stop reading all together.

In my opinion, the best place to create a wishlist is Amazon. But you can use whatever you want. Notion, Evernote, a Post-it Note, etc. As long as you have one, it doesn’t matter. It would be helpful to note which books from your list are in stock so that you can purchase the book right away. That way by the time you are done with your current book, the other one is already on its way.

4. Create a Reading Schedule

This is different than scheduling time to read (point #1). When you schedule time to read, you are basically adding to your calendar the time and place where you will be reading. Having an actual Reading Schedule, is on a per book basis, and is viewing your book from 1000 feet above. The Reading Schedule will tell you when to begin reading and when you will be done reading the book. Stick to the schedule and you will be on your way to not only finishing the book, but creating the habit along the way.

This was a life changer for me. I do this for pretty much all my books.

I am now going to share with you all exactly what I do. When I’m going to start reading a book, I start by adding the book information to my Book Database — I personally use Notion. Here is an article I wrote about how I use this app.

Once the book is added to my database, I create the schedule. Here is what it looks like:

Reading Schedule in Notion - Guillermo

Every field in the schedule is important and useful. I highly recommend this system. Here is how this system helps me:

  1. It keeps me accountable
    • When the book information goes into my database, something registers in my mind that tells me that now I am accountable to read it since not only is the book in the database Column of “In Progress” —I don’t like to see things in “Progress”, I like to see them “Completed”— but there is also a schedule with an actual end-date waiting for me.
  2. It keeps me focused
    • Because there is an actual schedule with a number of pages to read, it helps me stay focused on just reading what is required to complete the reading for that day.
  3. It keeps me organized
    • Organization is important to make things easy, and once again, making it easy is one of the 4 laws of creating a habit. Over-organization can actually make things harder too, so you need to do what you feel is best for you. For me, this system has been a blessing.
  4. It motivates me every-time I check the “completed” checkbox
    • Having an “achiever” personality, it feeds my ego every time I click on that “completed” checkbox. Quite simply, It motivates me for the next day.
  5. It allows me to see how long it will take me to read a book
    • Because I scheduled the entire book ahead of time, I can see when I am going to finish reading it. So it gives me time to stay true to my previous point about creating a wishlist — as I am approaching the last days of reading the book, the schedule allows me to see when I will finish it, and usually about 4 days before I will be finishing the book, I order the next one off my Amazon wishlist. This way, the new book arrives by the time I am finishing off the current book.

To make it even easier for you, I have created a template of my Reading Schedule. I made it even easier by providing you with three different versions of this template; Notion, Evernote, and PDF.

To get these templates for free simply fill the information below and you will receive an email with them.

Signup and instantly receive a Reading Schedule template 👇

Reward – Make it satisfying

5. Invest in Tools that Encourage Reading

The last point is to make sure it’s satisfying. And this can be several things, like rewarding yourself with your favorite food, or going out with friends, etc. Whatever you usually don’t do that you would only do if you wanted to reward yourself.

Personally, I try to make this step intentional. I reward myself by purchasing gadgets or things that will encourage me to read more.

Here are a few things that I have purchased myself that have encouraged me to continue reading, and at the same time motivate me to continue reading using these tools.

Kindle Paperwhite

This one here took me about 2 years to get. I could have gotten it some time ago, but I hesitated mainly because I enjoy reading from physical books themselves. However, I found that reading off of an actual book reader (not an iPad, or phone) was not that bad, and in fact was very practical. Now, I really enjoy it and at times I don’t even notice that I am reading off a piece of technology and not an actual physical book.

Therefore, the convenience of having this tool has been so rewarding to me.

First, highlighting and note taking is on another level. Because highlighting in a digital form rather than a physical one allows you to move those highlights even faster, it allows me to export those highlights, and then put them in my Notes & Highlights Database directly.

Also, the fact that I can take a full library anywhere. This is a big blessing.

Scan Marker

This is a good one. Especially if you read non-fiction and you do a lot of notes and highlights.

Here’s what I used to do before I had this tool: whenever I read something I liked I would highlight it. Then I specifically would make a note of why that passage triggered me to highlight it. After that, I would add a note of tags or topics that that highlight touched on (i.e. Leadership, Generosity, History, Pain, Suffering, etc). So then after a few days, or sometimes a few weeks, I would re-visit that book and would transfer every highlight and notes to my Book Notes Database. I would literally type every single highlight! (or should I say, I used to?…)

It wasn’t until I discovered this amazing, time saving, and practical little tool. It basically allows you to scan the passages you want to “highlight.” It’s better if I show you what I mean:

Video taken from developer’s website

Yep. You can thank me later for that.

Go buy it here.

Book-Bone Holder

This is a simple one, but I wanted to add this tool here because I wanted to show you that your reward doesn’t have to be expensive. (Even a cool book mark, a reading light, a mug, etc. can be a reward!) Your reward could be something so simple but oh, so useful!

However you feel that you could make your reading experience rewarding, THAT is what matters. Keep in mind that was is celebrated is often repeated!

Bonus

6. Know when to quit

I put this one as a bonus because I just could not leave it to the side, and I think it’s important.

When I first started reading aggressively, for some weird reason, I thought I had to actually read every single word from the book I was holding – Even those books that I did not enjoy.

Not only was I not enjoying the book, I was not having fun, and because I was not having fun, I would not pay attention, and then soon after, I would realize that I was half way through the book and I had no idea what I was reading the entire time (like some of you with this blog post.) I was wasting my time, and my focus. Overall, I was not benefiting from the book at all. Why put yourself through something like that?

It just doesn’t work.

I currently have a full column in my database of books I drop.

So, don’t feel like you have to read every book. This would defeat the second point I mentioned.

Once again, it’s important to foster a spirit of reading in your life. Here’s the importance; little by little your reading (and for that matter your writing) will get better and better, and sooner than later you will notice that you will be able to read even the books you dropped! – of course, that is if you still want to read them.

A habit worth fostering

To finish, I just want to encourage you to really give this a try. I hope that these few points may be of some help to you. If anything, I hope that it led to some new ideas of your own. The overlying fact here is that creating a habit of reading is what’s most important.

Whatever you do to start creating this habit, do it consistently, and with discipline. If you do this, you will be on your way to a better and more enriched life.