There are few people who wouldn’t benefit from spending a little more time each day reading a good book. If you want to keep yourself at maximum creative capacity, you have to make sure you are taking in new ideas and thoughts. If you aren’t continually feeding your mind, you’ll eventually find your creative reserves starting to run dry. Continually producing output without taking any input is a good way to burn out.
Here are eight tips that I’ve found help me in my personal reading habits:
- Read books. There is a lot of material available on blogs and other internet sites, but make sure you are taking time to read actual published books. The quality of published materials tends to be much higher and topics are more developed.
- If you can set aside a specific time for some reading, do it. It doesn’t have to be much, but even committing to 15 minutes of reading before you go to bed will make a difference.
- Read outside your field. Don’t get stuck just reading about things related to your work. Sometimes the most productive leaps of imagination will come from reading stuff that doesn’t appear to be related at all to your specialty.
- Keep a book list. Write down what you’ve read and what you want to read.
- Buy used. A used book is usually just as useful as a new one. If you can save money, get the used book. Better yet, use your local library.
- Don’t be afraid to give up. If you are reading a book and you just don’t like it, don’t be afraid to quit and start a different book. There are so many books available, it probably isn’t going to be worth your effort to push through a book that you don’t like. (There are exceptions to this of course, but the mere fact that you’ve started a book is rarely enough justification for forcing yourself to finish it.)
- Take notes. When you find something interesting jot it down. You can write in a notebook or even in the margin of the book, itself. Taking a few moments to pen your thoughts will help you get more out of the reading experience.
- Read for the interaction–not speed. You are reading to let your mind interact with the ideas on the page. If you spend too much time worrying about how fast you are reading, you’ll lessen the benefits of reading. Settle into a reading pace that is appropriate for you and for the reading material. Some things you’ll read fast and some you’ll read slow.
I’d say a library membership is the most helpful way to get started on a book-reading experience. Not only do you save a lot of money (and trees), you can end up picking up lots of interesting books which you weren’t looking for, and which you probably would not have heard of otherwise.
@Basu – I agree. When I move to a new town, a library card is one of the first things I get. Usually right after I get my license because most places want to see your license (to make sure you are a local) before they will give you a library card.
Great post!!! Thank’s =)
I read a lot but I do most of my “reading” in the car on my way to and from work each day. It’s a 30-40 minute drive so I can listen to about one book every other week. I’ve heard about 400 books over the last 15 years, twice as many as I’ve had time to read. Last month it was a historical account of the hunt for John Wilkes Booth. This week its Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince.
Jeff Miles says
I would have to agree with Basu and Make #9 getting a library card. I would assume that most libraries are like ours now which allow you to place requests for items online and they will notify you when the book comes in. I use this feature all the time. One of the best things for my business is that I read about a book a week, not even in my field most of the time but it is a nice relaxing way to keep the creative juices flowing.
Many people do seem to forget the value of actual books and just prefer reading everything online. I do read a lot of online stuff but I try to balance it by reading published books also.
I’ve always wanted to do #7 but I always forget to prepare a pen and paper before I start reading. And I really don’t like getting interrupted when reading so I end up not having any notes at all.
But I liked #8 the most. For some reason, I can read online articles really fast but when it comes to books I tend to slow down my reading speed. I don’t even do this on purpose! I was worried it had something to do with my reading ability because English is not my native language. But then your explanation really makes sense so I feel much better now about this.
Thanks for this really helpful article. *bookmarks*
“Read for the interaction–not speed. You are reading to let your mind interact with the ideas on the page. If you spend too much time worrying about how fast you are reading, you’ll lessen the benefits of reading.”
Wrong, actually the fastest readers are the ones who remember the most, go and learn the ILVEM method, and you will get that.
Brandie Kajino says
I LOVE to read. I make it a point to read fiction after work hours and before bed. It gets me out of my own head, and out of my work subjects. I agree with the burnout thing, too. If you’re always working and not taking a mental break, that’s where you’re headed… No. Fun.
Regarding the 6th point. I just hate to give up and try to finish whatever I have begun. I will have to consider this point! :)
Right now I am reading ‘One hundred years of solitude’ a second time! :)