How to Read More Books

I’ve had a moutaining problem with books over the last few years. I’ve accumulated stacks of them – on loan from friends, gifts for birthdays, etc. – but month after month I never seem to get to reading any of them.

Maybe it’s too much time on the iPad. Maybe it’s the snail mail bonanza I created for myself by trading expiring frequent flyer miles for magazine subscriptions. Regardless, day after day I look at this…

One stack, of many...
One stack, of many…

… and say, “I’ve really got to find a solution here.”

Well I think I found one. It was while listening to a Harvard Business Review podcast titled Read Fiction and Be a Better Leader. The very last question asked in the interview was about how to fit more reading into one’s schedule.

The answer – just start with 15 minutes per day.

I’ve been doing this for a week now (sticking to 1 book at a time) and see this?


That’s a book the money manager I consult for lent me. I was up at his office for a face-to-face, talking about how I fancied myself a future forensic accountant, and he pulled it off his shelf for me to borrow. That was the week of the Flash Crash. 3 YEARS AGO! I read it this week and am finally mailing it back to him now.

Now I have experience with the whole “start small, gradually build up” approach. And just because I know that you – my friends – won’t laugh at me, I’ll share this with you.

See this?


That is my meditation journal from 2005. I was really into Buddhism at the time and had decided I would begin meditating.

Now I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to train the ol’ monkey brain, so I decided to start small. I thought to myself, “I’m going to start with 1 minute of meditation per day”. Certainly anybody can do 1 minute per day!?

Here’s page 1 of my journal.


You can see I start strong on May 1, 2005. I logged my 1 minute of shamatha meditation and had the intestinal fortitude to stick with this rigorous schedule day after day after day…

…until May 8, 2005. I arrogantly increased my meditation time to 2 minutes per day. A 100% increase! What was I thinking?! Obviously this was the straw that broke the monkey’s back. There are no more entries after the spirit-crushing hell-on-a-cushion session that was May 8th.


But I’m older and wiser now. And some study discipline remains after coming out of the other side of the CFA Program. The 15 minutes of reading per day makes sense – and no plans to increase it over time. It’s long enough to be worth the set-up and tear-down time. And short enough to stick with the book and see it through, even if it’s not that great.

So! Done with that. Now onto this.