One of the things that I am most proud of is that for the last three years I have read 40-60 books per year.
I'm not a fast reader. I don't skim read. I'm not reading short-fiction.
One of the main factors is that I have a focused reading list. This means that I read multiple books on a single subject, and as soon as I finish a book, I know exactly which book I'm going to start next.
Why you should craft a reading list
When I started reading the classics, I was working my way through lists of classic fiction books that I knew I wanted to read from researching the web. I became accustomed to having a "to read" list that I churned my way through.
After moving out of strictly reading classic fiction, and into a wide variety of genres, I've kept up the habit of having a list of books that I want to get through.
I think this is useful because it enables:
- Deeper learning from focused reading around a topic.
- You read more books, since you always know exactly which book is next.
- You increase your chance of reading life-changing books.
- When you measure it, you can improve it.
How to structure your reading list
Here are a few things that I think are important when crafting a reading list.
Your reading list is a commitment, not a wishlist – The most important thing is to treat this list of books as a commitment that you are going to make to yourself for this year. If you just add books that sound good to this list, you'll end up with a list of all great books. These are books that you've already mentally committed the time to reading.
Segregate by genre/idea/topic – I separate my list into several categories (Happiness, Success, Philosophy, Consciousness, Fiction, Spirituality). Each category has a handful of books that I want to read to understand that thing better. If any category gets too large I split it up or trim it down.
Start your list with a handful of books – If you're not a regular reader, start your list with 10 books to read over the year. That might just be two or three categories. Regardless, spend a few hours deciding on topics that you want to learn about and find a few good books on each. Don't know where to start out? Ask friends for the book that most impacted their life.
Vet any book that goes on the list – I can't say enough how much this is a commitment, not a wishlist. Don't just add any book that Dick, Jane, or Vladimir recommends (see that gender/cultural inclusion right there 😎). I personally use GoodReads to vet any book I add to my list. I read a description, look at the rating, but most importantly read a handful of comments to get a sense of what people did or didn't like, what they learnt, what they didn't learn, etc, before reading the book.
A bad GoodReads rating doesn't mean I won't read it, it means I'll read more reviews to find out why and then decide.
Curate over time – As life goes on, curate this list as if it was a reflection of your self-worth. I'm kidding. But seriously, whenever you come across a new book that falls into one of your categories, vet it and add it to the list. Trim the list regularly based on what you've read and where your interests might have changed. My process is a mix of structure and organic evolution.
Share it with "well read" friends – Keep your list somewhere online like Google Drive, Notion, Dropbox. Anywhere that you can easily share a link with your friends. Ask close friends/family to check it out and recommend you a book that will fit into one of your categories.
Here's my reading list
To help spark some ideas here is my reading list for this year. Check it out and if you think there is an epic book that I'm missing, let me know below.