One of my goals every year has been to read at least two books a month. I have accomplished the goal by reading 25 books in 2022, and in the past years. While talking to several of my friends about reading consistently throughout the year, I found out that most of us want to read, but we lack the motivation, discipline, structure, and cadence to keep reading.
In this article, I describe my process for overcoming some of the hurdles to keep reading throughout the year. I touch upon tools, apps, and ideas to keep us motivated and read more books. Hope this helps you achieve your reading goals for the upcoming year. Happy reading!
[My books in 2022 from GoodReads]
Why read and what to read?
As humans, we have opinions, perspectives, experiences, and set notions. And, we have a finite set of knowledge that we extrapolate on when we communicate. Exposing ourselves to the opinions, perspectives, experiences, and notions of other people, helps us grow as individuals. It expands our thinking and opens up new channels of conversation. Interacting with people and talking to them is one way to do it. But, reading books gives us that ability, at our own pace, in our schedule, and in our own space. Reading books also exposes us to people that we cannot reach otherwise directly. The people in history, or famous or distant. The saying is so true that “Books are your best friend”.
I started reading when I was young. My sister and I would walk to the local library, and spend hours browsing the shelves. We read comic books, folk stories, classics, biographies, essays, poems, fiction, non-fiction - whatever we got our hands on. Reading books of different genres, and different authors, gave us invaluable perspectives. Reading books and stories from distant countries, helped us dream about those regions, their people, their culture, and their beliefs and create a world of our own with our imagination.
Books were our friends, and they still are. They kept us company at all times. We learned a lot and it helped develop our personality, to be open-minded, and express our points of view.
The Reading Challenge
To keep us motivated and challenged, we need a way to track progress. So, having a place where you can list all the books you want to read and track progress is key. Participating in reading challenges is a good way to drive motivation. Last but not least, having a reading circle where you can interact with your friends and family to share books and reviews keeps it social and engaging.
I participate in reading challenges every year. These are reading goals for yourself that challenge you to read more each year. It is a fun way to motivate you to read. It is not really how many books you read, but establishing a steady cadence to read. The more you read, the more you get hooked.
My 2022 Book List
If you are interested, here is a list of books I have read in 2022.
- The Everyday Hero Manifesto: Activate Your Positivity, Maximize Your Productivity, Serve The World by Robin Sharma
- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
- Will by Will Smith, Mark Manson
- Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t by Jim Collins
- Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most by Greg McKeown
- Measure What Matters: OKRs: The Simple Idea that Drives 10x Growth by John Doerr
- How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority by Clay Scroggins
- The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
- Choose to Win: Transform Your Life, One Simple Choice at a Time by Tom Ziglar
- The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness by Ichiro Kishimi
- Born to Win: Find Your Success by Zig Ziglar
- Leading Without Authority: How the New Power of Co-Elevation Can Break Down Silos, Transform Teams, and Reinvent Collaboration by Keith Ferrazzi, Noel Weyrich
- The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin
- The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
- Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant
- Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dr. Dan Ariely
- Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models by Gabriel Weinberg
- The Education of an Accidental CEO: Lessons Learned from the Trailer Park to the Corner Office by David Novak
- Life Force by Tony Robbins
- Powershift: Transform Any Situation, Close Any Deal, and Achieve Any Outcome by Daymond John, Daniel Paisner
- The Dichotomy of Leadership: Balancing the Challenges of Extreme Ownership to Lead and Win by Jocko Willink, Leif Babin
- Flex: The Art and Science of Leadership in a Changing World by Jeffrey Hull
- How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom by Matt Ridley
- Taking People with You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen by David Novak
Apps that promote the reading habit
Reading is a habit that we need to cultivate. Time is of the essence and it is hard to find time to pick up a book to read. For me, it was about finding a process and tools that keep me reading. In my several years of reading 25+ books a year, I found some of these tools and apps very useful. Finding a small chunk of time (30 mins or an hour) each day dedicated to reading has helped me read more books each year.
What is Goodreads and how to use it?
Goodreads is a free website and app where you can manually search or scan the bar code of a book to add it to your bookshelf. You can categorize your books by creating separate bookshelves and tracking books you want to read, currently reading, or have completed. The GoodReads app or website allows you to have your reading circle by socializing with friends, writing reviews, and participating in reading challenges.
I have been keeping a list of books I want to read and have read, at GoodReads. You can find my bookshelf, and be part of my reading circle. I also participated in the 2022 Reading Challenge and completed reading 25 books in 2022. It was highly rewarding and I gained a lot of knowledge throughout the year.
What is Libby and how to use it?
Libby is a free app where you can access books available at your local library, borrow ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and more. Libby is the newer library reading app by OverDrive, loved by millions of readers worldwide. It’s free to install, and there are no subscription costs, no in-app purchases, and no late fees. All you need is a valid library card from your library.
You can tag your books, place them on hold, and then borrow and renew them for 14 days. Books of all genres are available and the app is very easy to use. If you have a Kindle, Libby can send the borrowed book directly to your Kindle. It syncs your loans, notes, bookmarks, and reading progress across all your devices. You can also download ebooks and audiobooks for offline reading or stream them to save space.
Libby’s ebook reader makes it easy to customize how you read by adjusting the font size, book layout, and lighting. You can also add bookmarks, create notes and highlights, and define words.
Libby is an intuitive and beautiful audiobook player. You can swipe on the book cover to skip backward or forward, and also increase playback speed up to 3x. You can set a sleep timer until the end of the chapter or for 5, 10, 30 minutes, or more.
I have been using Libby for a while and have borrowed a lot of books over the years. It is very convenient and always with me on my phone. I download the audiobooks on my phone so I can listen to audiobooks in the car or on my runs and walks. It allows me to read at a 1.5x speed, which is a comfortable speed for me. I have a Kindle so I send my borrowed ebooks directly over to my Kindle to read them on my Kindle device, and Libby keeps the progress, bookmarks, and notes in sync at all times.
What is Audible and how to use it?
Audible is a free app via a paid subscription to get access to the world’s largest selection of best-selling audiobooks, exclusive Audible Originals, popular podcasts, and more. Audible is an Amazon company and Prime members get any 2 titles free with an Audible Premium Plus trial. There are no commitments. You can easily cancel your membership at any time. All titles purchased with credit are yours to keep forever.
If you are a person who loves to read and own audiobooks, Audible is a good choice. It can get you into a habit of reading while you are driving or walking or jogging.
I have not tried Audible, and I have been relying on borrowing audiobooks from Libby, as I don’t need to own audiobooks. Moreover, Libby is free.
What is Blinklist and how to use it?
Blinklist is a free app via a paid subscription to get access to “blinks” for a variety of non-fiction books and podcasts. The “blinks” are a 15-minute bite-sized list of “key ideas” that help the reader understand the book or a podcast. The blinks for the books and podcasts are available either in a text or audio format. It is a good way for people who don’t have the time or patience to read the whole book to quickly get a “cheat sheet” or CliffNotes version written out as key ideas of the book.
I have tried out Blinklist for a little while and I am very impressed by it. I like to read the whole book so I have not subscribed to the service. But, if you are someone who wants to get into a habit of reading books, Blinklist helps you develop that cadence by setting up a reading journey and by reminding you to read every day.
Although they have over 5000 non-fiction books and podcasts, they might not have the book or podcast that you are looking for. Since the key ideas or blinks are written by the team at Blinklist, I am guessing it takes time for them to release blinks for new books and podcasts at a steady pace.
An alternative to Blinklist is Headway which is a similar app but the subscription cost is higher for Blinklist.
What is Headway and how to use it?
Headway is a free app via a paid subscription to get access to bite-sized “summaries” for a variety of non-fiction books. The summaries for the books are available either in a text or audio format. It is a good way for people who don’t have the time or patience to read the whole book to quickly get a “cheat sheet” or CliffNotes version written out as summaries of the book.
Headway has a personal subscription and a business-focused subscription that caters to companies that want to have their curated library of books. They also have daily insights & motivational widgets, self-growth challenges, progress tracking & achievements, and Spaced Repetition flashcards for knowledge retention & learning English.
I have not tried Headway as I had already tried Blinklist and I found Blinklist to have a bigger collection of books and podcasts. Although Headway has over 1500 non-fiction books, they might not have the book that you are looking for. But, if you are someone who wants to get into a habit of reading books, Headway helps you develop that cadence by setting up a reading journey and by reminding you to read every day.
An alternative to Headway is Blinklist which is a similar app but the subscription cost is lower for Headway. But, Headway does not include podcasts but has some other features as well.
What is Kindle Unlimited and how to use it?
[Kindle Unlimited is an Amazon subscription service that you can use on your Kindle device to get unlimited access to over 3 million digital titles, unlimited access to audiobooks, and magazine subscriptions, with a high-quality digital reading experience. All ebooks and audiobooks are synced over all your Kindle devices. Amazon also has Prime Reading which is a service available for Amazon Prime members.
I have bought a lot of Kindle-format books to read on my Kindle, but I have not tried the Kindle Unlimited service yet. I am an Amazon Prime member, so I do use the Prime Reading service. It is a good service to have when you have a high cadence to read a lot of books.
What is a book club and how to use it?
Another great way to motivate yourself to read and have a reading circle is to start a book club. Based on your schedule, and the cadence you want to maintain, you can meet as a group with your friends and exchange notes on books. The most common way to run a book club is to decide on a book, read the book on your own time, and then regroup in the next club meeting and discuss the book. It is a great way to be social, meet friends, and be engaged with the reading habit at the same time. It helps develop a good cadence, forces a reading habit, and brings the joy of reading.
I hope this article helps you find your reading cadence and the joy of reading. How many books will you read in the upcoming year? Are you up to the challenge?* Happy reading!
If you are an avid reader, have tips, and favorite books, please put them in the comments below. If you are someone who wants to get into the habit of reading and needs help, please let me know in the comments as well. I would be more than happy to help.