Austin Kleon’s blog is a go-to space for me. And not just for substance and creativity of his blog posts but how he creates and curates the blog itself. I must admit I have borrowed from how he runs both his blog and his newsletter in what I am doing with mine. He did write the book Steal Like An Artist so I don’t feel guilty about it. I tend to read his posts because of his email newsletter which comes out every Friday.
I grew up a bit of a bookworm, reading regularly in between all the things that children do, including right through my teens. In my thirties, I realised that I didn’t read as much as I used to. I wrote a blog post on how I tackled that which was to read for 10 minutes a day, at a minimum. As a result, I have gone from one or two books a year to at least thirty books a year – my target for this year is fifty and I have read about twenty-five so far.
I have found that, in being deliberate, I can read and still get in the other things I enjoy, like watching documentaries, series and movies, etc.
In a post If You Are Having Trouble Reading, Kleon lists ten things you should do. My favourite is “Be promiscuous. Read more than one book at a time until one pulls you into monogamy.”
For years, I used to read one book at a time and, when the book wasn’t pulling me in, I struggled to get through, often taking months to finish it. Now, I read at least two books at the same time, often three, sometimes four. There are the ones that pull me in and I finish them quickly. While the ‘difficult’ one takes time, I still get to enjoy other writing.
Another piece of advice from Kleon is “STOP READING BOOKS THAT AREN’T DOING IT FOR YOU. SERIOUSLY. STOP.” Yes, he wrote it in caps. To be honest, I can’t not finish a book even if it takes me months or even years. The Golden Sayings of Epictetus took me two years and I had to restart it twice in that period, because of the language, but I eventually finished and got some value.
There is still great value in books, whether from a knowledge perspective or, simply, for entertainment. We just need to be deliberate with how we read, especially in these distracted and distracting times.
How do you read?