I once heard someone say that if you can read, but don’t, you might as well be illiterate. Just as a car cannot run on an empty fuel tank, you won’t get very far in life if you don’t constantly feed your mind with quality input. That was my impetus to read a book a week.
I’ve always loved reading so I’m lucky in that reading is a joy for me. If you’re not a natural reader, perhaps you could start by reading a book a month or even a year. As with so many other things, reading is a habit. Once you start you’ll find it easier to keep going.
How to read a book a week
1. Have a To-Read list
Everything time you read or hear about a good book, note the title and author. Write it in your journal, calendar, post-it sticker, envelope, napkin, or whatever you have on hand. Chances are you’ll have forgotten about the book by the next day, so if you don’t write it down, you could miss the book that could change your thinking and your life.
The next time you’re in a bookshop or library, pull out your list and get those books. This gives you a sense of accomplishment since you’ll have the satisfaction of ticking off the list. You also find better books than just browsing aimlessly.
2. Affiliate yourself with a bookstore or library
Pick a bookstore that’s near a place you hang out often. This makes it easier to step into it the next time you’re in the area, without having to go out of your way. Some big bookstores offer membership cards which cost very little and entitle you to a discount. Applying for this card provides a psychological impetus to use it.
Joining a free public library is an option, except that you’ll often be put on the waiting list for the really popular books. But this is a good alternative if your list comprises mainly obscure or difficult books that few other people want to read.
3. Decide on a ‘new book day’
This is the day of the week you start reading a new book. Having this routine makes it easier for you to remember to start a new book. It also gives you a good gauge of whether you need to adjust your reading pace. If you’re halfway through the week and not yet halfway through your book, you may need to spend more time reading, read faster, or adjust your target to one new book every fortnight instead.
Sunday is my new book day because I usually have lunch near a big bookstore after church. I also like to dive into a new book once I get hold of it, and Sundays give me more time to read. I buy the book, then sit at a cafe with a coffee and savour both the coffee and the book. It’s a perfect way to spend a Sunday if you love reading.
4. Read both fiction and non-fiction
It’s best to read different genres and different authors, as this variety broaden your mind. Good fiction tickles your imagination and fires your passion for life. Non-fiction provides you with insights about the world and other people. Self-improvement books teach skills and attitudes that will help you succeed in life, work, and relationships.
I personally like autobiographies written by successful or interesting people. It lets me follow their thoughts and learn from them.
5. Underline sentences that make an impact
Obviously don’t do this with a borrowed library book! The physical act of underlining involves you more deeply in the reading process. It will also save you time when you later want to find a specific quote or example from the book. When a sentence or paragraph makes a deep impact on me, I also write it in my journal. Physically writing it out helps us to remember better.
6. Re-read the underlined portions
After finishing your first read, go back to the beginning of the book and read all the parts you underlined. You’ll likely have forgotten most of the details by the time you reach the end of the book, so this habit will help you to recall what the key learning points were. Your brain will also register the points better for long-term memory when it sees these points twice in a short period.
There’s obviously less to underline for fiction than non-fiction. Still, a good fiction book should provide a few sentences worth remembering for their informative content, communication style, or sheer linguistic beauty. In fact, fiction will improve your language skills a lot more than non-fiction.
Start to read a book a week, this week
Reading is food for the mind. Feed your mind as often as you feed your body. And feed it quality food too. Word by word, book by book, your thinking will expand imperceptibly at first, but over time you’ll surprise yourself by the wise and learned person you’ve become. This is how a simple reading habit can change your life.