You love books. I love books. Neither of us has much time. How can we read more?
1. Review and Recommend: Make a point to write and share something about every book you read. You can tweet a quick review, comment on a site, or write your own blog. Don't worry about quality or audience, at least to start with. I do quick book reviews because they help me consolidate what I think about the book, because I want to talk to you about what I'm reading, and I want to know what you are reading (and why)? The beauty of social media is that we can write for ourselves (as very few of us can make a living writing blog, comment or tweet book reviews), and leave the professional writing to the professional journalists. The more you find ways to participate in the conversation about the books you are reading, the more books you will want to read.
2. Audio: Audiobooks allow for reading multi-tasking. Read while shoveling or mowing or commuting or dish washing or walking or running or cooking or gardening or driving or whatever. Give up trying to focus on every single word - a book is bigger than its individual parts (and words). Accept that you will need to read 4 or 5 books on any given subject for it to start to penetrate into long-term memory. Don't try to equate an audio book with a paper or e-book, audio is a different reading experience. Be willing to pay for an Audible subscription, to reduce the price of individual books so that you can take more reading risks and always have a book ready to go. Or lobby your academic or town library to offer audio book options.
3. Kindle Mobile: If you have a smart phone, then you are a good candidate to buy also buy a Kindle reader. Amazon has been brilliant in placing the Kindle software on every available screen, and then figuring out how to synch across all devices. Since I always have my iPhones, I always have the book I'm reading - synched to the last page I read. I can't tell you how many times in the past few months that I've taken a few minutes of downtime to read a few pages on my iPhone. Clothing shopping with the family, waiting for kids soccer or tennis practice to end, picking up the car at the mechanic. We always have our phones with us, and now we can always have our books.
4. No TV: Actually, no cable, satellite or broadcast TV. First, who needs it. Between Netflix and web video, the only thing that you are really missing is TV sports. And yes, the NFL is addictive - but the addiction can be broken (and the pub or pizza place is a social sports destination). I admit that I am powerless in the face of the delights of TV surfing. Put me in front of a hotel TV, or give me the remote at my parent's house, and I will surf endlessly through the night. Nothing is more addictive and attractive then TV -and it is getting better and better. (Go ahead, I dare you to turn off the Food Channel). The only solution is to not tempt our brains with the pleasures of surfing, to cut the cord and pull the plug. Our brains like TV better than books, particularly when our brains and bodies are tired from a long day of work. Eliminate the TV choice and read more books.
5. Restrict Netflix: I love movies and I love TV shows from premium cable channels. HBO, Showtime and AMC have been making some of the best dramas ever scripted and produced. For this reason, I stick with the Netflix 1 DVD at-a-time plan. Less video in the house, and sometimes days between video, means less temptation to watch and more time and desire to read books.
6. No Hulu Plus: The video selection on Hulu Plus is not all that great, but only Hulu Plus is available on iPads and iPhones. Video on a mobile device seems easier to watch and more attractive. If I'm going to watch Netflix Streaming (something I don't do very often as the selection is really awful), I'll watch it on a mobile device.
7. Less Magazines and Newspapers: Reading more books requires reading less of other things. Once the NYTimes went behind the paywall I read less from the NYTimes, and more books. At one point in my life I subscribed to over 20 magazines, as magazines are inexpensive (they get most of their revenues from advertising). Today, I get The Economist, Wired, Fast Company, and Newsweek - that's it. Yes, I miss the New Yorker, and a few others - but people send me links to particularly good articles and I have more time for books.
8. Restrict Social Media Consumption: We could spend all of our time reading blogs and reading tweets. The amount of interesting writing on the intersection of technology and education continues to grow, and I've given up trying to keep up with the stream. Dip in and out, follow a few people and go to a few places, and be okay with not keeping up. Less social media means more time for books.
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