Well, this is timely. I bumped into this essay, “How I Read More Books”, at some random blog yesterday, and I love the advice he gives for how to read a lot of books in a year. I’ll give his pointers and then my thoughts.
1. Find time by cutting back on junk reading
Okay, this is good advice. I’m bogged down in a couple books right now (Plutarch’s Lives, People’s War People’s Army, and Don Quixote), and it’s just killing me. So, okay, Plutarch’s Lives will go away for a little while. I’m not going to hate myself for deciding now’s not the time to read it. People’s War People’s Army, it has intense flashes of insight to the Vietnam conflicts during the 50s-70s, but, god damn, if the rest of it isn’t boring-ass comical communist propaganda. And Don Quixote…well, that’s Infinite Winter for you. Meanwhile I’m excited to get in on The Handmaid’s Tale, Naked Lunch, and Insurrections. What the hell am I waiting for?
2. Create a distraction-free reading environment
Yeah, that’s kind of a no brainer. I do like to listen to music when I read, but it has to be music without lyrics. So that means a lot of jazz, post-rock (right now it’s Explosions In The Sky’s The Wilderness), and instrumental movie soundtracks (Only God Forgives–I don’t know why). I find music that fits the book, and, for me, it sort of becomes the soundtrack of that book. I like that.
3. Track what you read
Ah ha! That’s what those scans are that I keep attaching to my 52 Book entries!
4. Your next book should always be waiting
It is. He suggests immediately reading the first chapter of your next book after finishing the last book. I might try that. It probably helps keep the momentum going.
5. Record the knowledge you’ve gained
My scans are from my “book journal,” but what I’ve been writing is mostly just thoughts on the book. For fiction, that’s probably fine. For the nonfiction, I think his advice is the way to go. By the way, for his example he gave his notes from his reading of Command and Control, I book I read a few years ago and loved.
- There have been way more nuclear accidents than I’d ever imagined
- Only sheer luck has prevented an accidental nuclear detonation
- For years during the Cold War the nuclear bombers were in the air at all times, armed and ready to attack