Admittedly, I’m at a strange point in my life right now. I’m halfway finished with my graduate degree, trying to find my identity within the workforce and outside it. I’ve followed mentors and role models who have encouraged me to use this time in my life (I’m 23) to explore as many ideas, cultures, places, jobs and projects as I can. This led me to commit to reading one book per week in 2016 (and write a blog post about each one).
One of my role models, Mark Zuckerberg, had the same goal last year. “I’m excited for my reading challenge,” he wrote. “I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.”
One book per week is a concrete goal. It’s more meaningful than simply saying that I plan to read more. Research shows that people who document their goals are more likely to achieve them. So I made a conscious effort to maintain a sense of accountability with this goal that I can hold myself to. It’s ambitious but achievable at around 40 pages per day on average.
Of course, the ultimate goal is to expose myself to new ideas– to broaden my perspective, to make connections that I may not have otherwise made and to understand lives that I’ll never live (for better or for worse). Reading makes better writers. It makes better leaders. And it also makes people smarter, younger and happier.
There is one thing, that if every person in our country did, would eradicate poverty and crime, fix the economy, and bring back stability to the home and improve our relationships with others. I believe that if everybody read a minimum of one book per week, we could solve many of our problems.
-Ayodeji Awosika, author of The Destiny Formula
I also intend to pen a blog post with each book in order to cement my thoughts on the ideas that I explore each week. One of the best ways to make sense of information that you’re trying to digest is by teaching that information to someone else. With many of these blog posts, I intend to try to chronicle some of my key takeaways– essentially teaching the book through a blog post.
Some of my strategies for this goal:
Maintain a well-stocked home library. This won’t be difficult for me. Over the past two years, I’ve accumulated books from local book stores and as gifts from better-read friends. These books range in topic: the economy, journalism, innovation, religion, home organization, music, minimalism, natural science, sociology and food.
Take recommendations. For the most part, my peers know me. They know what I’m familiar with and more importantly where there are gaps in my understanding. Accepting recommendations for books very well could mean allowing the people who know me best to play a role in helping me identify and remedy my weaknesses– without necessarily calling me out on them.
Take advantage of audiobooks. Let’s do some math. The last audiobook I listened to (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft) was 8 hours long. The average commute to work is 15 minutes each way. So one could complete an audiobook in 16 work days– just during the commute. This is why at least one book per month will be an audiobook. I recently signed up for Audible’s membership program, which gives users one free audiobook (plus a discounted rate for each additional book) for $14.99 a month, which is about half 25 percent off the price of most audiobooks.
Read short books when I’m falling behind and speed read the longer books. While I intend to make reading a part of my daily schedule, I’d be a little over-confident to assume that I won’t fall behind every so often. That’s why several of the books that I’ll read will also include short-reads– the sorts of books designed to be read on airplane flights. Additionally, I plan to speed-read through the heftier books, the ones that I might otherwise be intimidated by.
Keep the blog posts brief. In addition to few of my readers having genuine interest in long-form analyses of the books I read, blogging is time consuming. This post alone took me more than two hours to script. But I do want to put in the time to make sure that I take the time to reflect on the texts that I read and layout the information in a meaningful way.
Taking advantage of downtime. “Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them,” Lemony Snicket wrote in Horseradish. Every aimlessly idle moment is time wasted that I could be reading. And with only have about 40 pages of reading per day, that down time adds up.
Pick books by authors I admire. I often imagine myself at a cafe enjoying a beverage with some of my idols (past and present). And while such an opportunity will likely never present itself– certainly not for the ones who’ve already passed, reading books written by them may be the next best thing. Bill Nye, Diane Rehm, Hunter S. Thompson, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, Rainn Wilson, Charles Darwin– and so many other great artists, scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs I admire– have either written books or authorized books written about them.
I pen posts on several different blogs, so some of my book posts will be published elsewhere. If you’re interested in following my book-per-week goal, like my personal Facebook page for updates.