Let’s be honest with ourselves. Everyone loves the idea of reading a book from cover to cover. It makes us feel we’ve accomplished something very noble. Not only that, but we also feel empowered by the knowledge we’ve absorbed.
The question now becomes:
Why is it so freaking difficult to pick up a book and just read it?
Well, we’ll get to that soon. But first, let me share with you a snippet of my terrible reading habit. In the past two years, I succeeded to read only a single book from introduction to conclusion.
I didn’t even buy the book. It was given to me for free at a conference. So, I don’t know if that even counts for anything. Looking back, I’m appalled by my own statistics. It’s unbelievable.
Now, fast forward to 2020, I read on average four books every month. I have read more books in the last few months than I have ever read in my entire life.
What changed? My perspective and methodology.
And that’s what I’m going to share with you in a second. You’ll be able to use the same strategy to read any book of any size without ever getting overwhelmed or burned out.
Okay, let’s get back to our previous question. Why is it so hard to read a book?
According to research, an average person reads about 12 books a year. In my opinion, this statistic is a gross overstatement. I’m an average guy. How come I’ve never read up 5 books in a year from cover to cover?
I remember the maximum number of books I once read was four in 2017. I’m sure I read those because at the time I was jobless and had nothing else to do with my broke life.
Let me ask you. How many books did you read in past year from cover to cover? Be honest. I’m guessing it’s not even close to 12. You see!
I finally figured out why it was so difficult for me to complete reading a book. I’m positive it’s the same reason why you too can’t seem to finish reading that book lying lonely on the shelves of your home.
The problem lies in how we perceive books. I realized this when I accidentally stumbled upon a very simple mathematical calculation made by Tim Ferriss in his book, The Four Hour Work Week.
As a computer scientist, I was intrigued by its simplicity and mind-blown by its implication. So, basically, Tim did something similar to this;
He wrote; “If you read 5 pages of a book a day, then in one year, you’ll have read 9 books of 200 pages each.”
Holy Cow! 9 books?
The first time I read that I paused for a minute. Picked up my pen and repeated the calculations just to make Tim wasn’t playing mind games with me.
After that, I then asked myself “Am I too lazy that I can’t even read 5 pages of a book every day?”
The thought of not being able to read 5 pages of a book a day made me feel like the laziest homo sapien in the entire pack of homo sapiens.
In the blink of an eye, Tim transformed my perception of reading using basic primary school arithmetic. A change that soon resulted in me reading 4 books a month on average.
Now, what always happens when we pick up a book to read is this.
We think of the book as a single entity. We look at the thickness of the book as if we’re standing at the bottom of Mount Everest, ready to start the excruciating journey to the top.
We get intimidated by the number of pages and sheer size of the book. Hence, we just drop it and let it lie like dead meat for eternity.
The first step to effortlessly reading books is to change how you view books.
Remember that a book is just a stack of pages sewed together in an orderly fashion.
The pages are simply made up of paragraphs equally spaced out. And the paragraphs are sentences laced together in a beautiful way.
And as you might have already guessed, the sentences are simply words rearranged in a logical format.
Desmond Tutu once said:
The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
Just like eating an elephant, we’re going to eat that book one page at a time. I want you to pick it up right now.
I know dust must be sleeping on it. Shake it off. Let me show you how to divide your elephant and start chewing.
Open the book. Go to the last page. How many pages are in the book? Write that down on a piece of paper or a digital notebook on your phone.
Next, how many chapters are in the book? pen that down as well.
Now, I want you to take a minute and answer this question.
How many pages do you think you can read a day?
Be brutally honest with yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a single page a day or it’s 5 pages a day. You have no one to impress with the number of pages, but yourself. Jot that down on the paper.
Now, let’s do a very simple mathematics calculation to know exactly what day you’re going to chew the last piece of the elephant.
Let’s say, for example, your book is 150 pages. You have committed to reading 5 pages a day. It’s going to take you 150/5 = 30 days.
Wow! That’s incredible. This means in a year, you’ll have 12 books of 150 pages each that you’ve read from cover to cover. Isn’t that a wonderful accomplishment?
Before we celebrate your awesome accomplishment, here is the final piece I want you to scribble down on your paper. Write down the date of today as your starting date.
If your calculation says that you’re going to take 30 days to complete the book, count 30 days from today and pen that date down. Now, you’re done.
Every day, I want you to commit to reading only the number of pages you wrote down. Forget about the whole book. Get up every day and tell yourself, “just 5 pages”.
That’s all. How simple is that? Do that every day and watch what happens to the book.
It’ll slowly dissolve in front of your eyes like ice cream. You’ll be shocked when you hit the end. Using this technique, I’m always surprised when I get to the end of every book.
Before deciding to share this strategy in this article, I tested it in our international book reading club.
The results were astounding. Let’s take the case of this young undergraduate student named Ledou.
Ledou joined my club 2 months after it was created. In less than 2 months, he completed seven books from cover to cover, making him the 2nd fastest reader in the group after the founder. It was mind-boggling.
In the club, everyone applies the strategy I just explain in this post.
They take it just a little step further by posting it in the group so that everyone sees it. That way they remain committed to their goal.
If you have difficulties reaching your daily target, feel free to reduce the number of pages you can read a day.
Don’t be a prisoner of your own decisions. It’s okay to start small and then with time you’re going to get better.
Having an accountability partner or accountability group can help you to commit to your daily reading. I recommend you get one if you have problems with being consistent.
Reading a book from cover to cover is often a very daunting task for most people. It doesn’t have to be so.
By following the simple process of picking up a book, writing the number of pages, deciding on the number of pages you’re going to read every day, and then writing the start and end date down, you can read any size book without ever breaking a sweat.
I don’t care if it’s the Harry Potter Series or the Holy Bible. Just like Desmond Tutu said, take it one bite at a time.
If you’re dead serious about reading a book starting today, I challenge you to write it down in the comments section below.
Write down the title of the book you’re going to start reading today and also the end date.
When you’re done reading the book, come back and let me know if this magic spell worked. I’ll personally encourage you.