How to Read a Book a Week: Step-by-Step Guide

This year, I’ve taken the plunge to read a book every single week.

Over the past few years, I’ve stacked books on top of books (recommendations from podcast guests, friends, etc.), and it became a never-ending list.

As the books started stacking up, so did the excuses.

“I don’t have enough time…”
“I can’t read fast enough…”
“I’ll do it next year…”

Like many of you, I had every legitimate excuse not to take on this challenge. I’m in the process of building a business, running a podcast, and allocating the sliver of free time I have into my health and social life.

Then I realized that the problem was not the number of books. It was something else.

If you asked me how I’m able to push out 3-5 blog posts a week, my immediate response would be that I have a system. We have a document with researched topics, headlines, and keywords, a content calendar, and a team that does the final edits.

If you want to lose 20 lbs, you’ll also need a system that’s designed for you. The same goes for growing your business, your financial net worth, and so on.

In other words, I had the goal of reading a book a week, but zero systems to back it up.

This is what I want to share with you today.

*Note: This is just my version of approaching the challenge. You can adjust based on how you normally absorb information, your schedule, and how many books you want to read. I should emphasize that the purpose of sharing this is not to have you read 50+ books, but to develop the system that enables you to read more in less time.

My 5-step system

1. Picking 1-3 areas that you want to optimize

You can decide to go deep in one topic, and just read books on business, or just on health. Personally my ADHD will drive me nuts, but whatever floats your boat!

2. Gather a list of books

Browse through Amazon, take some of my suggestions below — do whatever you need to get as many recommendations as possible. Make sure it’s from a diversified circle of people or source, so you can get a diversified group of books. Try to aim for 70-80 books if you can (we’ll explain below)

3. Categorize them into 1-3 areas

If you have more than 2+ topics, you can either:

  • Read 4 books a month on one topic, then 4 books on the next. Or…
  • Diversify by reading books on each topic every month (this is my approach)

Have a free for all section

This gives you the freedom to either choose a book that is not related to the topics you chose, or read another book around your chosen topic. For me, these are topics around psychology, philosophy, relationships, history, fiction books, and more.

4. Prioritize the order of books you want to read

What usually works for me is to select topics that I can immediately apply in my life. Otherwise, you feel forced to read something that’s not directly applicable.

Another tip to keep in mind is to do some back research on the length of each book. For example, you wouldn’t want to cram in multiple 400-page books in the span of a month. Unless you’re a reading machine, then all the power to you! And last but not least…

5. Put the rest on your backlog

The backlog is there in case you run into a book that you lose interest in (which happens more often than you think). I’ve found that it’s rarely a good idea to finish a book for the sake of finishing a book. If you’re not enjoying the book, drop it and move on.

Reading hacks

  • Take the time to study the process of reading faster. If you’re going to be reading 100,000’s of words, taking a few minutes to increase your reading speed can save you a massive amount of time.
  • Measure how fast you currently read using this free test.
  • Check out these free resources (or research on your own) on how to read faster:
  • Try repeating the test again, and practice until you see some improvements
  • Audiobooks can speed up your ‘reading’ MUCH faster. If you can retain non-fiction books in audio format, then this option is highly recommended. Although for certain books that involve more visual representation (such as bodybuilding or nutrition books), I prefer reading them.
  • Check out Audible or Audiobooks.com
  • Even though I’ve resisted Kindle for awhile (I’ve always liked the tangible feeling of books), adopting it into my life has been huge. I no longer have to carry around books when I travel, and I can bring one tablet that contains all of my books.
  • If you slip up and forget to read a book (which will happen), keep going. As I previously mentioned, the real purpose of the challenge is not to read 52 books in 52 weeks, it’s to develop the habits, time management, and reading skills to read more books. As long as you end up reading more books than you normally would, you’ve already won.

Without further ado, here’s my book-a-week reading list. Use and share it as freely as you please.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

The Backlog

Health & Wellness

Business & Money

Biographies

Other

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