According to a study conducted in 2016 , it was found that most people read around 12 books a year. This may or may not sound like a lot to you depending on how much you like to read.
To the average person one book a month is pretty impressive. But unfortunately, many of these books aren’t exactly intellectually stimulating. Fan-fiction books such as 50 Shades of Grey might be entertaining, but they’re not going to improve your life or make you smarter.
To get the most out of books, you’ll need to choose them carefully
There are around 134,021,533 books in the world2, and the number is only growing. So many genres, so many writing styles. It’s like any other external element that represents you. The clothes you wear, the car you drive, it’s all a matter of preference and taste.
With all of this nearly overwhelming choice, it makes sense that choosing the right book for you could be difficult.
Best-sellers are not necessarily the best for you
Many people refer to the best sellers list to get an idea of what they should be reading. Or sometimes they’ll just choose something at random, pick up a book and hope for the best. That’s fine for entertainment purposes, but not so much for your development.
It would better benefit us if we took the time to consciously choose what to read based on the skills we want to improve, or the mindset that we want to hone. If we don’t make that choice for ourselves, then the best sellers list will make the choice for us.
The real issue here is that while we’re wasting our time reading mediocre books, we’re missing out on ones that could really benefit us or even change our lives.
Never judge a book by its cover
The book cover and the content hiding inside are two separate entities. An author could have created great content, but their book will get overlooked if the title & cover are not eye catching. On the other hand, a book might have a great cover, but the contents are just full of fillers and empty statements. The plot is weak and you might even feel drained from reading such an atrocious piece of garbage.
I’ve read so many books that aren’t necessarily attractive at first glance, but have resonated with me and benefited me greatly such as Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt 3.
Make use of tools to help you decide what to read next
Your Next Read is a little bit like Pandora in a sense. You enter the title of a book that you enjoy and the generator will supply you with a list of relevant suggestions.
Bookbub is very similar in the sense that it matches your profile to books that appeal to your interests. They will also alert you when books on your list are available free or at a discounted price.
Check out the three-star reviews on Amazon
There are two types of people in this world who choose to leave reviews. Those who truly loved the product and those who loathed it. Some people have incredibly high standards and can never be pleased, so you should never take their word for it; their opinions aren’t objective enough.
Like I said before, it’s all just a matter of taste. What may come across as nasty to one person might be barely mild to you. A book that is revered by your peers may come across to you as boring and poorly written. When you look at the medium reviews (three stars) they typically will give you an overview of the good and the bad, giving you a more objective opinion.
Ask for recommendations from like-minded people and your role models
Since they have similar taste, you can trust their review of a book without having to do much research yourself. They won’t try to sell you like the marketers who promote the books on the best sellers list. They have your best interests in mind and know your personality, so they’d have a good idea of what you like.
Know when to switch it up
The issue with asking for recommendations from like-minded people, is that you end up falling into a cycle of reading the same material. We tend to read a lot of similar books with a recurring theme, because we as humans are drawn to what feels familiar. But complacency will never lead to progress.
The more you continue to read on a subject, the less information your brain retains. To always keep your mind fresh, try to switch it up a bit and take your reading in a different direction.
Ask yourself before reading: will I be able to apply the skills in the book soon?
I always try to read books that I know will contribute to my growth. When I read the book Good Strategy, Bad Strategy, I was double checking my organizational habits to see if there was room for improvement.
As a writer, it is imperative that I read books on or above the level that I want to write at. The books that I read dictate the frame of mind in which I function and give me the inspiration I need to continue writing engaging material. If I feel that a book doesn’t match or inspire my writing style, I will move on to the next one.
So the next time you go to pick up a book, consider how it will benefit you in the future. Don’t just pick up whatever is on the best sellers list. Find the authors that speak to you and help to shape you into who you want to be.