There have been a handful of step functions in my life. One of them was building a reading habit. Today marks day 1000 from when I consciously made a decision to read more. It went pretty well; I’ve read 100+ books since then. It’s my second-best habit after journaling as of today.
My main learning was that reading is like a muscle. It can be trained to progressively higher weights, i.e. going from 10 pages/day to 20, 50, 100, etc. or starting with 10 minutes/day to 20, 30, 60, etc.
I did an AMA on Twitter. Here’s a compilation:
1. What’s your daily routine? When do you set aside time for books?
I mostly read non-fiction before starting my work and fiction before sleeping. I try to follow this routine for at least a few days every week.
2. By far, the most common question was around consistency. How did you keep it going? What did you do when you sidetracked? Which habits/actions you noticed were friction to reading? What helped in maintaining your habit of reading? What are the frequent excuses your mind gives you to not read and how do you overcome it? How to develop habits? How to maintain it consistently over a period of time? How to manage time and distractions? Do you do anything special to hold up your accountability to finish a book from start to end?
Starting is the hardest part every day.
I make sure to progress at least 2-3 days/week. To force start on some days, I keep my daily work aside. If I don’t read that day, I’m not allowed to work that day.
Also, choosing books is underrated. I spend hours selecting my next book. Choose books that you’d want to read, not what everyone else says you should read. Then you’ll start looking forward to it.
3. Another common question was around retention. How do you reflect on what you read? How do you revisit the learnings of the book? What app/system do you use to take notes & make summaries?
Here’s my system:
1st Pass: Just after completing the book, I get all my highlights in one place to go through them.
2nd Pass: After a few weeks, I revisit them to send them out in my newsletter (the one you’re reading right now).
3rd Pass: After a few months, I revisit them again to send them out over Telegram channel.
Recently, I’ve added another layer on top of this: Readwise.
4. How many books do you read at once?
I keep 2-3 active books at a time.
5. Do you set up a goal at the start of the year?
Yes, it was 24 for 2019, 50 for 2020, and 36 for 2021.
6. What’s that one book you’d recommend each and everyone to read?
7. Which book warranted repeated readings?
The Courage to Be Disliked
8. Which caused the most change in you as a person?
When Breath Becomes Air
9. kindle vs physical - preference?
Kindle for non-fiction, physical for fiction.
10. How do you make notes for physical books?
I don’t make notes for physical books. I mostly pick up non-fiction as digital copies.
11. Fav fiction book?
12. Did you read fantasy? if yes, best ones?
13. Fav autobiography/biography?
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!
14. Book you would gift frequently?
The Little Prince
15. Anything you have finished in one sitting?
Jonathan Livingston Seagull
16. What’s your longest marathon, how long and which book?
Harry Potter. All-nighter.
17. One book that made you value life outside work?
18. One book that made you value the impact through your work?
The Airbnb Story
19. Which book had the best advice that you implemented while running Roc8 Careers?
The E-Myth Revisited
20. Which book challenged you the most?
The Mom Test
21. How do you select a book?
I keep noting down book recommendations from people I look up to. Then I prioritize them based on the domain I’m currently looking to upskill in.
22. How to get most out of a book?
Start with what you want out of that book. Make notes while reading.
23. What are your fav books you want to re-read?
I’d reread Who Owns the Future?, Antifragile, and The Hard Thing About Hard Things. All three have really compelling ideas that made me stop and ponder for a long time.
24. Books you didn’t finish, & why? How do you decide if it’s not worth your time? How many books did you put down and what were the most common causes?
I don’t remember really. I spend a lot of time picking up my next book so this does not happen a lot. I have a simple rule: If I don’t feel like reading it, I won’t. Life’s too short to spend time on things I know I’m not enjoying.
25. How to pick the one?
There is no ONE. Reading almost anything is better than not reading.