Why I Read 60 Books a Year

3 Years ago, I caught the reading bug. The transformative effects have been so powerful that I have read 207 books since. There are some questions that I get often but rarely ever feel like I take enough time to do them justice. I'll try to address them in this post.


How do you find the time?

The same way I tackle most of my goals. Break it down into tiny steps, then walk.

60 books per year is also: 1 book every ~6 days, 1/6 of a book every day. 1/12 per half day and so on. How many pages in a book will depend on what you read. I think mine’s around 600 pages so if I read a 100 pages in a day, I should be good!

I aim to read 40 pages as part of my morning and evening routines, the rest I like to be somewhat spontaneous about. Reading while walking to the station, in the tube, waiting for a friend or listen to an audiobook while baking.

Speaking of Audiobooks, lets get to the next bit.

You must read really quickly, then?

Actually, not really. Ive always been jealous of those that can sit somewhere for a couple of hours and read a back from cover to cover.

I actually think Im quite slow with a book, especially if I am engaged. I practice speed reading also but generally not if I want to engage deeply with the material.

You said we were gonna talk about Audiobooks?

Ah, yeah! I absolutely love Audiobooks and read about 1:1 paper to audio. I also find that I can listen to Audiobooks at higher speeds and still have decent information retention. I mostly listen at 2X speeds and will go to 3X if I am fully engaged (and using headphones!)

How do you maximise information retention?

Some people I know write summaries and use highlighters to promote retention. I believe these can help tremendously but if I don”t enjoy something I” probably not going to keep at it for very long.

I find that my ability to recall is mostly determined by how engaged I when experiencing the content. I unapologetically put a book down if I find that I am not fully engaged.

I learn with the aim to teach. And I test myself all the time by jumping back a few steps and seeing if I am gathering insights.

Mainly, though, I don”t see books as parcels of paper from which we must extract as much essence as possible before it starts its dust collecting duties. I like to read slow and multiple times. I get joy from discovering a chapter that I could never really remember reading.

What do you read?

I probably should have led with the fact that I only read non-fiction! A melting pot of psychology, self-help, technology, business, design, culture. Whatever I can get my hands on. This is on my shelf this month:

  • An Ecology of Mind
  • Small Arcs of Larger Circles
  • Special Relativity and Classical Field Theory (The Theoretical Minimum)
  • Speaking, actually
  • Introduction to Cybernetics
  • Braving the Wilderness
  • Why We Sleep
  • Value Stream Mapping
  • and How to be a Brilliant Mentor.

I love recommendations (even for fiction :p)

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