Would you like to learn how to read 30 books in 30 days?
Introduction to How to Read 30 Books in 30 Days
I found it easier to read 30 books in 30 days than one book a day for 30 days. That may sound odd since the outcome is the same, but the way you get there is very different. Because of the way my paid consulting work is structured, there are times when days at a time, I work very hard and for long hours, and then I get a respite. And I find that I can easily read four books over the weekend and catch up on the books I didn’t get to read during the week.
This post is more than about how to read 30 books in 30 days. Bear with me for a minute!
- What does it mean to you to read a book? Seriously. Does it mean that you have to read every word in the book?
- If you focused on the key concepts of the book, leaving out all the idle chatter, and you’re able to clearly articulate what the book is about, can you say that you have read the book?
For the record, I have read the books I have listed on the page dedicated to the Virtual Literary World Tour, in the traditional sense of reading – all of the book. But these questions that I have raised have been on my mind, a lot. We want people to read more, but most people are saying that they do not have the time to read. I personally think that people are doing themselves a disservice when they do not take the time to read more.
Update: First published in April 2013
Have you read?
I mentioned before that I purchased a PhotoReading course from Learning Strategies Corporation. They recommend that you go through the course once without doing the exercises, and then go through the course again. I have gone through it once, and now I am about to go through it a second time, doing all the exercises. The steps of the program are as follows:
How to Read 30 Books in 30 Days: Stages of PhotoReading
- Step 1: Prepare – it is imperative that you establish a clear purpose for reading the material.
- Step 2: Preview – gain perspective on what you are reading and why reading it would be valuable to you.
- Step 3: PhotoRead – Use your brain power to process the information non-consciously.
- Step 4: Postview – Stimulate your desire to learn by being curious.
- Step 5: Activate – Involve both the left side and right side of your brain to comprehend and reach your reading goal
In the five step process, the bulk of the time is spent on activation, which is unlocking the information in the book from your non-conscious mind. The course recommends that you practice PhotoReading with non-fiction books that often have tables of contents and indexes, which assist you in getting the high level picture of what the book is about.
I have read elsewhere that it’s usually not recommended that you speed read when reading fiction, unless of course you are Harold Bloom, professor and author, who can read over 1000 words per minute with nearly 100 percent comprehension.
Let’s say for example that you have to “master” a topic in 30 days for work, and I place the word, master in quotes because it really takes years to master any topic. But you would like to learn more than just the fundamentals of the topic. Please read the post How to Master a Subject. Essentially, you will be reading the books by the foremost experts in the field, and you will be reading them in relation to each other.
In How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading (A Touchstone book) by Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren, they call this reading syntopically. Select about 10 books and only focus on what’s relevant for you. Decide on how many hours you will commit to this task and stick to it. To help you structure your reading so that it’s focused, use the following questions as a guide to the answers that you are seeking.
Questions to Increase Reading Comprehension
- What’s the purpose for reading?
- What’s the book about?
- What are some important themes?
- What are the key concepts?
- What do I already know about this topic?
- What else have I read that’s similar to this text?
- What does this remind me of?
- What past experiences have I had with this topic?
- How can I apply existing knowledge with past experiences to what I’m reading?
- What meaningful connections can I make with my existing knowledge with past experiences ?
- How can I rearrange the concepts?
- How are the concepts related?
- Can I picture in my mind what I’m reading?
- Which part of the text triggered my senses?
- What’s the value of this information?
- Would I recommend it to others?
- Are there any patterns?
- What clues can I find?
- What is being implied but not explicitly stated?
- What did I learn?
- How has my thinking changed?
- How can I apply what I’ve learned in new contexts?
- What else can I combine with this for new insight?
Use the table of contents of the books to decide what to read that will assist you in achieving your purpose. Spend no more than 10 hours in total grasping the concepts in the books. Create a mind map of what you have read, and doing that will allow you to increase your reading comprehension.
Have you read?
How to Read 30 Books in 30 Days – The Process
Now you have already read 10 books and spent 10 hours doing so, now you have 20 books to go. Preparing for the Virtual Literary World Tour has been an amazing experience so far, and one that I would like to share with you. I am finding myself being able to make so many different connections. For instance, I am taking a Gamification course developed by Kevin Werbach at Wharton School of Business, which is offered through Coursera.
While watching one of the video lectures, Professor Werbach is talking about Activity Loops, and before he mentions the Player’s Journey, I immediately see the connection to the Hero’s Journey. What an epiphany for me. I have read many books that deal with the Hero’s Journey and Gilgamesh is a key one. Schedule time into your day to read, that’s what I did, and that’s how I was able to read 30 books in 30 days. Always have a book with you, as well as your e-reader if you have one, so that whenever you find yourself with some free time use it to read.
I am recommending the books that I have read so far, and not the ones that I am planning to read.
- Aesop’s Fables (Oxford World’s Classics): To remind us of important business and life lessons. The edition that I read has 600 fables and the book is under 300 pages and easy to read.
- Gilgamesh: A New English Version: After Gilgamesh, the King of Uruk returned from his hero’s journey, he was a better ruler.
- Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse: You’re never too wise and learned to stop learning.
- The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway: It takes a long time to build your reputation and a short time to ruin it.
- The Trial, Franz Kafka: When challenges arise in your life, address them, and don’t just hope that thye will work themselves out.
- The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Mordecai Richler: Learn from your mistakes and do not keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Honor the people who support you and do not exploit them.
- Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior (Shambhala Classics), Chögyam Trungpa: Strip away the mask you are wearing and become authentic and vulnerable. Get to know yourself – the real self.
- The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: Learn to become more childlike and be curious.
- Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen, Hans Christian Andersen: Understand the original fairy tales, and compare them to today’s version to get an understanding of what is possible.
- The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Brothers Grimm: See above. In addition, after reading these fairy tales, I have true respect for Disney versions. I’ll never view the Cinderella story the same after reading this version.
- A Wrinkle in Time: 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, Madeleine L’Engle: Dystopian societies do not work.
- Songs of Innocence and Experience, William Blake: Steve Jobs was influenced by William Blake’s works. The most successful CEOs seem to like poetry.
- The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus: From the Quarto of 1604, Christopher Marlowe: Be careful what you wish for.
- The Turn of the Screw, Henry James: Nothing like a good ghost story.
- Superwomen, Albert Payson Terhune: Learning what to do is equally as important as what not to do.
- The Abominable Snowman/Journey Under the Sea/Space and Beyond/The Lost Jewels of Nabooti/Mystery of the Maya/House of Danger (Choose Your Own Adventure 1-6) (Box Set 1), R. A. Montgomery: Demonstrates how different decisions and choices impact us.
- Love in the Time of Cholera (Oprah’s Book Club), Gabriel García Márquez: True love endures?
- Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang, Mordecai Richler: Reminds us of how absurd, we as adults can be at times.
- Lord of the Flies, Centenary Edition, Centenary Edition, William Golding: The most civilized can behave uncivilized when placed in certain situations.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 25th Anniversary Edition, Douglas Adams: Science fiction takes us out of our comfort zone.
Final Thoughts on How to Read 30 Books in 30 Days
Reading 30 books in 30 days has its place, and I recommend that you do it at least once just to prove to yourself that you can do it. If you need to get up to speed on a certain topic quickly, this is the way to go. Most of the 20 books I recommend are very easy to read, and because of the diversity, they allow us to become more creative and they add rigor to our thinking.
One word of advice is, before you read the books, decide on the sequence in which you will read them. Some of the books are heavier than others based of the subject matter, so it makes sense to not read two books like that back-to-back. Most of these books appear on lists of the best books to read. Please also read the post, How to Read a Book a Day for 30 Days.
And by the way, reading is learning by discovery, so now I do believe that if you grasp the key concepts in a book without reading every word, you have read the book.
It has been four years since I first wrote this post, and a lot has changed since then. If I were reading 30 books in 30 days, some of the books would be different since I would read books to teach me in-demand skills. I would also place more emphasis on taking notes and combining ideas. But one thing that is still very important, is the need to read broadly. To make the experience more meaningful, find ways to tie the books together.