With James Swanwick, Los Angeles entrepreneur, podcast king and creator of the 30 Day No Alcohol Challenge.
Why do you read a book? Is it to learn? If so, try reciting just three main points from the last book you read. “Reading should be about downloading knowledge, wisdom, life lessons, instilling a new mindset and gaining a different perspective of someone you want to emulate,” says LA-based entrepreneur James Swanwick, who hosts The James Swanwick Show podcast and is the creator of the 30 Day No Alcohol Challenge. James can now read “a book a day” on the days he reads – which is three to four books per week. Although it seems impossible, he urges you to experiment with these strategies, which work best for digesting non-fiction books. Here are his tips for expanding your grey matter at the rate of one book daily (hint: cheating is allowed).
CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT. I replaced my TV with a bookshelf to read more. Because the books are at eye level, this became a visual cue to create the habit of reading.
SET A SCHEDULE. Add a 90-minute ‘brain training’ session in your calendar at the start of the day and challenge yourself to digest as much as possible in that slot. Or, schedule 15-minute intervals spaced out across the morning, afternoon and evening.
GET ORIENTATED. First, google the author and book in Wikipedia. Then read the back of the book, table of contents, introduction and conclusion. Scan the photos. This provides a good indication of what you’ll learn.
STRATEGICALLY SKIM. Read the first sentence of each paragraph and then let your eyes skim over the rest of the paragraph to get the gist. Whisper the words out loud. You’re mining for gold. Stop only on something that stands out. Underline. If it’s super interesting, add a star in the column or tab the page. Don’t obsess over every last word. I used to read every word. The result was that I read two books a year.
REVIEW. Skim back through the book, reading the parts you’ve underlined, and note the most salient points on the inside of the back cover. Think of actionable items; takeaways that you can immediately apply to your own life.
RECALL. Force yourself to recall the book’s main points. Explain these by recording yourself on video via your smartphone (you may even want to upload it to YouTube). You’re teaching yourself to ingrain the knowledge in your brain. Next, share your lessons learnt with friends. You’ll soon become the most interesting person in the room.
PRACTICE PATIENCE. Initially, reading a book a day will be somewhat uncomfortable and 200 pages may take four hours. It’s a skill. And like any skill, you will improve with time and effort.
REVISIT. Once you’re reading 100+ books per year, it’s easy to forget the key ideas. So occasionally go back to your bookshelf and review the notes from your favourite books. Consider how you can keep applying the lessons. For example, What I Know For Sure by Oprah reminds me to ‘never say a bad word about anyone’.
LISTEN MORE. I often listen to Audible at 1.5 times the speed when hiking. It’s like reading books without spending your ‘free’ time on it.
JUST DO IT. Start by reading a book a week. Don’t read at all? Commit to a book a month. That’s 12 books per year. It’s still better than zero.
Curious to know what our ed Lisa Messenger is reading? She’s revealed her summer must-reads right here.