How to Stop Buying Books and Start Reading Them

5 Easy tips on effective buying and reading so you don’t get overloaded.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #192

Tip #3: Read One Book at a Time

This one's hard, I know. It's tempting to buy every book that sounds interesting and start reading them – all at once. But then you risk not finishing, and missing the special offer on page 297. If only you read that far, you could have won your very own pony! A live one, this time. But you'll never get to page 297 if you stop reading at page 53 because you got distracted by another book.

Read one book. When you're done, read another. You can modify this a bit by having two books going at once, as long as they're different styles, so you can switch off when you're in different moods. The two styles that work best for me are pure escapist fiction (Harry Potter, yay!) and deep, substantive non-fiction (A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking). When I'm in the mood for wizards who can change the universe by waving a wand, I read Rowling. When I'm in the mood for scientists who understand the universe by waving an eraser, I read Hawking.

Tip #4: Take Notes With Your Smartphone

In each book, use a piece of paper folded in half as a bookmark. As you read, jot down important ideas and thoughts on the piece of paper. The mere act of jotting will help you remember and understand the material better.

Once I've finished a book, I'll often type my idea paper into the memo pad on my computer and synchronize it with my iPod Touch or my Blackberry. Then when someone at a cocktail party says something that reminds me of the book, I can look it up, review the content, and then impress everyone around with my unbelievable brilliance and awesomely geeky habit of typing in book summaries.

I use a Mac program called Notational Velocity to type my notes. It synchronizes to the web and to my iPod Touch using the website SimpleNoteApp.com.

Tip #5: Keep a “Books I've Read" List

Now that you're reading books, finishing them, and summarizing them, start keeping a list of books you've read. Since you'll be reading 10-15 books a day (naturally), you may actually forget what you've read. So when your Aunt Sadie proclaims, "You simply must buy Miss Conduct's latest book, Mind Over Manners!" You check your "Books I've Read" list. "Why, Aunt Sadie," you’ll proclaim, "I've already read that one!" You quickly call up your book notes on your smart phone, and bond with your Aunt over the proper fork to use for the duck pate.

So in short: Keep a “Books to Read” list. Don't buy physical books until you're ready to read them. Summarize and take notes on the page you use for bookmarks. Type the notes into your smartphone when you're done. Finally, keep a “Books I've Read” list, so when you're learning, you're actually retaining something new.

This is Stever Robbins. I’m an executive advisor who helps entrepreneurs find strategic opportunities to help them grow. If you want to know more, visit http://www.SteverRobbins.com.

Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!

http://www.simplenoteapp.com – SimpleNote, the web-based notes app that syncs to everything
http://notational.net – Notational Velocity, the Mac program for rapid note-taking
http://SteverRobbins.com/r/book-briefhistoryA Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
http://SteverRobbins.com/r/book-harrypotterHarry Potter by J.K. Rowling
http://SteverRobbins.com/r/book-mindmannersMind Over Manners by Miss Conduct

Man Reading image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.