Reading a hundred books in a year can make you rich in happiness, knowledge, and money.
It’s not easy at first. But just like any other action you do consistently, it eventually becomes a habit. And when reading is a habit, opening a book every day is second nature.
I remember when I discovered the power of reading. A year after I graduated college, my startup had crashed and burned, and I was left lost. I turned to books. The first one I picked up was How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
Unintentionally, I started my reading journey with one of the best self-development books of all time.
This book drove my thirst for reading. The next year of my life, I spent several hours every day nose deep in a book. In total, I read a hundred and twenty books that year.
The results in only one year: I went from an ex-startup founder lost in an ever-changing startup world to focusing on growing a cutting-edge software company, 22Social, and becoming the founder and president of San Diego Digital Marketing Experts. (Update: I’m now the founder and president of San Francisco Growth Marketer and lead instructor at GrowthX Academy)
Knowledge is power.
Warren Buffett even notes, “I just sit in my office and read all day.”
He estimates that 80 percent of his working day is spent reading and thinking.
There’s no one super hack that will make you successful in a day; it’s about investing in yourself through the knowledge contained in books. To make it easier, here are six tips to read a hundred books in a year and get the most out of it:
1. Read every day in the morning
The biggest mistake you can make is not reading at least a couple of pages every day in the morning. The reason is you need to develop the habit; this part is crucial. Once you take several days off, it’s easier to slack off even more. Make opening a book part of your daily routine.
Without a precise time, you can put off reading until it’s too late, and you’re too tired. So, keep your reading hours early and consistent, and you’re halfway there.
I woke up every morning and made a cup of coffee before I read for an hour and a half. Then after work, I made a cup of coffee and read for another hour and a half.
2. Don’t speed read
The benefits of speed reading are a myth.
Speed readers shorten how long they fixate on a word. They do this by cutting down on subvocalization. The idea of speed reading has been around since the 1950s. This reading strategy gained momentum as people wanted to flaunt how many books they’d read, and many apps such as Spritz and Speed Reader have capitalized on the popularity, too.
What’s important is enjoying the act of reading and comprehending what you read. When you read, it’s vital to focus on being present, and not on finishing the book or even the next chapter.
Research has shown that when you speed read words, you don’t understand those words. Keith Rayner’s “Eye movements and information processing during reading” gives great insight into how our eyes work when we’re reading. Rayner believes that the benefits derived from speed reading are not true because our eyes can’t work that way.
“You can practice going faster and you probably will, but when you start going too fast you’ll start losing comprehension. Most speed reading methods involve getting rid of subvocalization. Research shows that when you do that and the text is difficult, comprehension goes to pieces.”
3. Don’t skip paragraphs, pages, or chapters
You’ll hear suggestions from self-proclaimed reading gurus that you should skip paragraphs, pages, and even entire chapters because it’s information you already know. Just because you read something similar or even exactly the same, it doesn’t mean that reinforcing the information is useless.
In fact, it’s vital for remembering it. According to the forgetting curve, memory retention declines fast as time passes without us reinforcing the information we’ve learned.
Without the benefit of retaining the knowledge you absorb, you’ll get discouraged to continue reading. Correspondingly, don’t take the shortcut of skipping over information. You don’t want to be another egotistical entrepreneur who claims they’ve read hundreds of books, but in reality, they’ve only read several paragraphs from each one.
4. Try different niches
It’s easy to get bored with reading if you stick to a single niche. For some people, it’s okay because they have an immense passion for a certain subject – e.g. enough passion for them to read a hundred books on the same topic in one year. For others, anything over thirty books covering a single niche is overkill.
Even if you read a hundred books a year for the next a hundred years, you won’t reach one percent of the amount of books published every couple of years. Try saying that ten times fast. Aspiring to read a hundred books can quickly feel overwhelming. But don’t get yourself riled up about not reading all the best business books available. Instead, have fun with it.
As one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, would say, “Take it bird by bird.”
Don’t think about reading a hundred books, think of reading just the next one, and eventually, you’ll get there. Feel free to explore topics you might be interested in and ones that your friends suggest. If you can’t find the enjoyment in reading, then the chances are you won’t even read ten books a year.
5. Apply the concepts
It’s extremely motivating reading books and seeing the immediate benefit in your life from using the newfound knowledge. For example, if you have a big public speaking appearance coming up, then pick up a book that teaches you how to speak to a crowd.
When I was focused on bringing a young startup to success, I read close to forty books on creating a successful business and marketing a young company. As a result, confidence exhaled from almost every business decision I made. Moreover, these business decisions were shown to be the right decisions time and again.
6. Don’t force yourself to read
If you’re not enjoying a book, then don’t push yourself through to the end. Read because you love reading – don’t read to say, “I read one hundred books this year.” If you read books to hit the one hundred mark, you’ll find yourself miserable.
Reading is about enjoying the journey. So even if you’re halfway through a six-hundred-page novel, feel free to drop it if the prose doesn’t capture your attention. The only books I regret reading are the ones I wished I had stopped soon after I had started.