5 More Ways to Read a Lot

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.

Reading open our minds to new ideas and gives us new perspectives. Reading helps us grow. Sadly reading as a habit is in decline because of reduced attention span of people. Yet there are still people who are passionate about reading, including your’s truly.

Earlier in my article 5 Ways to Read a Lot, I had written about my love for reading and the 5 ways in which one can develop a passion for it. The 5 ways I had talked about were:
  1. Develop Love for reading
  2. Read whenever you can
  3. Read wherever you can
  4. Take notes
  5. Underline key texts

In this post, I’ll talk about 5 more ways in which one can cultivate a habit for reading.

1. Develop a habit

Make it a point to read everyday, even if it is just 1 page. Associate your reading with some kind of signal.

For me any sort of waiting time is a signal to read. Some people check their mails on their mobile or tweet from their tab while they wait, I prefer to read.

Here is what zenhabits has to say in How to Read More: A Lover’s Guide.

Make it a habit. Pick a trigger in your daily routine, and consistently read exactly after that trigger each day. Even if it’s just for 5-10 minutes. The more consistent you are, and the longer you keep the streak going, the stronger the habit will become.

2. Be open. Be public.

It is a myth that one must read in private. If you have to read in a public place so be it. Having said that, a quiet, serene, calm place is definitely a better option than a crowded railway station.

But again it varies from person to person. As long as one does not get distracted, any place should be fine.

3. Commit to reading and make notes

Make a commitment to reading, by writing in a piece of paper what all you plan to read – it can be specific books, topics, ideas. Revisit this list from time to time.

Make a note of difficult terms or concepts that you would like to explore further. Then start looking for those sources and start reading them. A good place to start is a book’s bibliography (if it has one), the reference list of a wikipedia page or Amazon related searches.

Then do a deep dive into the subject and keep on going till you hit a logical wall or till you get tired.
Read more about Swarm Strategy in Ryan Holiday’s wonderful post The Swarm Strategy (How to learn about anything)

Always keep on revisiting your list and notes. You never know when inspiration may strike.


4. Don’t have any goals

Do not have any specific plan while reading. Read any book from any genre at any time that you want. Do not time yourself. Relax, sit back, enjoy – have a nice cup of tea and Marie biscuit while reading.

Reading is not a competition or a race – its a marathon. It is a long term process, you can choose to continue or drop out. Read only as long as you continue to enjoy.

Here is what zenhabits says on how to read more.

Enjoy the reading. Don’t look at reading books like a chore that you have to rush through to get to more urgent things. If you do, you’ll stop reading. Instead, look at the reading sessions as a treat, a spa break in the rush of your day.

5. Create your own personal library


Hoorayforlife my book shelf to read a lot

Although I read a lot on my mobile, tab or laptop computer, I still prefer physical books. And what better way to pay tribute to your books, than by buying an antique book case (or modern one if you prefer).

When I got mine, I first organized my books by topic, then alphabetically, then by size – but they always ended up getting mixed.

Now I just pick and choose, what I want to read when I want to read, and once I finish reading I don’t necessarily put them back from where I took them out.

But just having a huge book-shelf filled with books, gives me a high, a sense of satisfaction and a sense of purpose.

The picture on the right is mine, in front of my very own book shelf.

Some Final Words

That’s it then. I hope you enjoyed this list of 5 more ways to read a lot. If you liked it please share. If you have some more ideas on how to read a lot, please feel free to leave your comments.

Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are, said Mason Cooley.

I am currently reading

India : Land of a Billion Entrepreneurs by Upendra Kachru
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

You may also like

5 Ways to Read a Lot
5 Steps to Achieve Big Goals
Duties versus Rights
10 Books Which have had a Lasting Impact on Me
7 Ways to Accomplish a Lot of Work 

5 Ways to read a lot

5 Ways to Read a Lot
We all know and understand the importance of reading.
Books have a huge hand in shaping our character.
In the words of Oscar Wilde, “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.
As per a survey on Goodreads, 60% of people read less than 80 pages per day.
I am a voracious reader. I belong to the other 40% as I easily clock around 100 pages per day , which translates to roughly 12 to 15 novels in a month.
People often stare at me curiously when I read books at a bus-station or in queue at a bank.
A lot of people have asked me, why and how I can read so much. Let me try to answer the how part. For sake of convenience I have used book and ebook interchangeably.

1. Develop Love for reading

This is the biggest step. Unless you really like to read, nothing in the world will turn you into a reader.
To develop a passion for reading one easy method is as follows:
  • Activity 1  – Read a short book/ novel/ post
  • Activity 2 – Then do what you would have done if you had not read the book (like listening to songs, watching a soap/ drama etc.)
  • Now try to make a list of 3 to 5 things you learn’t from each activity
  • Repeat this exercise 3 to 5 times over a month
  • Compare your learning in these two cases

Personally, I learn a lot more if I read (books, blogs, infographics)

2. Read whenever you can

Always carry a spare book or two in your bag, or your Kindle ebook reader or tab. Keep them handy. Whenever you get some spare time, take out a book and read. Morning, evening, public place, private space – these are unimportant.

3. Read wherever you can

I read while I am waiting for a bus, I read on the bus, I read while standing in a queue, I read in the loo (yes, that’s right), while I am waiting at a signal and I read at pretty much any place.

4. Make notes

Carry a piece of paper, A4 preferably (yes I am old fashioned that way) and fold it into four. As you read and browse, take notes of points which you would like to explore further. This will give you ideas for other books.

5. Underline key texts

A book is to be loved, savored and personalized. Underline key texts, and revisit them every now and then. Reflect on what you have read and see how it can be applied to your life.


That’s it then. These are the 5 most important ways in which I nurture, nourish and sustain my reading habit. The brain is like a muscle and needs to be exercised, and good books provide that exercise.

My Reading List

Currently I am reading 99 Thoughts on Ganesha by Devdutt Pattnaik. I am also re-reading Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets by Nicholas Taleb.

On the blogosphere, I have started reading Zen Habits archives from the very beginning.


You may also like:

Books which have had lasting impact on me

1. Fools Die (1978) by Mario Puzo
I am an X in an indeterminate equation, the X that will terrify mankind as it voyages through a million galaxies. But no matter. That X is the rock upon which I stand.

2. Jnana Yoga (1899) by Swami Vivekananda
Read this when I was 12 year old non-believer and it made me realize that there could be a God even for me – not the so-called angry father God of Christian or Jews, not the so-called violent God of Muslims, nor the ever-blessing Hindu deities, but a God above all this, a God who could appeal to the very core of the intellect and spirit.

3. The Complete Infidels Guide to the Koran (2009) by Robert Spencer
On why Ram is peaceful, philosophical and open-minded, while Rahim is violent, ruthless and a  close-minded, terrorizing bigot. And why he shaves his moustache but keeps a beard.

4. The Road to Serfdom (1940) by Friedrich Von Hayek
On the bullshit that is communism and socialism.

5. Easy way to Stop Smoking (1985) by Allen Carr
No gyan, no lecture on health (all smokers are aware of the health risks) – in simple term it explains how smoking affects the mind, the chemical process and all, and how it makes all smokers a slave. By the time I finished reading, I was a non-smoker (after 8 years of pack-a-day) and have remianed so for more than 2 years  I don’t want to be a slave.

6. The Intelligent Investor (1949) by Ben Graham
Explains investing in simple common sense terms. No hi-fi funda, no higher mathematics. It was relevant then, relevant today and shall continue to be relevant in the future.

7. Hindu Philosophy (1947) by Theos Bernard
A brief but very lucid exposition of the 6 systems of Hindu philosophy and also Kashmiri Shavism (Trika). I find it ironical that an American finally managed to explain in 100 pages, what traditional scholars have not managed with their volumes and volumes of commentaries.

8. Fooled by Randomness – The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (2005) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
While his tone may be grating and he may have grandiose ideas about himself, none can deny the importace of this book. Everything in world is random – we can work, results we cannot control. But we have to be prepared for the worst nonetheless. This book at one shot dispels myths like stock market predictions, economic forecasts, astrology, usefulness of normal distributions etc.

9. The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World (2012) by Daniel Yergin
On energy situation in the world, its history, current scenrio and future, and how the world is slowly moving away from dependence on middle-east and its ramifications.