A Better Way of Reading Books

4 min readApr 29, 2020
Photo by Alfons Morales on Unsplash

The ideas that I am sharing in this article are confined to non-fiction books.

Media is filled with stories about how many books successful people read in a year on average.

Bill gates reads 100 books in a year.

Elon musk used to read 2 books a day ( > 600 books in a year).

Mark Zuckerberg aimed to read one book every 2 weeks (26 books in a year).

25 books? 45 books? 100 books? How many books should one read per year to build next Microsoft?

Inspired from these stories, we set up goals to read as much as they could.

We search for tips and tricks to read faster. So that we can finish up our goal of “25 books this year”. Cruzing through 1000 pages every single day to meet our objective. Browsing through YouTube videos and BuzzFeed articles about increasing our reading speed.

These might help you match Bill Gates’s tally maybe even surpass it. But the value you get from those books wouldn’t be optimal.

A better way of reading

What I am proposing in this article is a better way of reading. A way in which you get most out of whatever you read.

To start, we should go back to the question “why am I reading books?”

Because I want to improve something in my life?

do I want to expand my knowledge?

do I want to explore opinions that are completely opposite mine?

Rather than setting up a numeric goal like “25 books” or “1400 hours of reading time”. Set up your objectives for reading books. Then set-up sub-objectives for reading each book. This is because you don’t want to give 100% of your attention to each book as some could be just a leisure read, some could be important for your career and some could be read for expanding your horizon.

Before picking up a book, take 5 mins. List down your objectives somewhere. Then decide how much attention you want to dedicate to this one. Maybe if you aren’t that interested in this one then take a skim through it. Maybe listening to the audiobook at 2x (or even 4x) playback speed will suffice.

You don’t even have to read every book cover to cover. The time you save in the books that give you less value could be utilized in the ones that give the most value.

The idea here is to allocate more time to books that give you the most value. Rather than allocating equal time and attention to every book.

Drawbacks of using “hacks” for reading fast

As I said earlier everyone has the objective of reading every book. But when you try to finish it as fast as you could you might not get the full value out of it hence not reaching your objective for the book. Every page you turn will be one of the 25000 pages you’ve turned this year.

When you set up a numeric goal. First, reaching that objective becomes a success and everything below it is a failure, this could lead to demotivation for the future. Second, the focus is more on the goal than the objective.

Instead of increasing the rate of page-turning, cultivate the skill of time allocation for each book. Such that every page adds up meaning into your life and you fulfill your objective.

Reading is a habit built over consistency. When you would’ve cultivated that you’ll get most out of every book you read.

How to cultivate the habit of reading

Like every skill reading also needs consistent practice.

List out your objectives of reading the book

You can list these wherever you are making notes or make it as a post-it note and stick into the initial pages of the book. You can even list them on your bookmark.

Read almost every day

As James Clear advocates in his book Atomic Habits. To build a good habit you have to practice it on a consistent basis. Even the days when you don’t feel like reading you can read just 1–2 pages and call it a day. But, make sure you get the most out of whatever you read.


Try out books from different genres. If you stick to one genre it might get boring after a while. Trying out books from the fiction genre could save you from boredom.

Join community

A community doesn’t necessarily mean book clubs. You can just be 2 friends discussing what you’ve read. You might end up with nice recommendations for your read list from the community.

Read Often

Instead of checking social media in your free time, you can read more. You have to remove friction from the reading process. To do that you can have your eReader app on the home screen.

Remember, the objective is to make a habit of reading and extracting most value out of it not reading most books you can.

My friend has made a video on this, watch it here.