Handy says "ready a book!"
August 9, 2018 2:36 PM   Subscribe

If you want to be like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, adopt their voracious reading habits (Quartz) -- it's a story line that comes back every few years. "From Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates, all of the most successful leaders are avid readers" -- Why You Should Read 50 Books This Year (And How To Do It) (Fast Company). Is that target too low? How to read 100 books a year (Observer). But if a specific number of books is a daunting target, instead focus on the fact that It's Never Too Late to Be a Reader Again (Wired). Still looking for inspiration to grab a book? There's a video for that! Make that many videos! Behold BookTube! (Wikipedia) Here's A Beginner’s Guide to BookTube (Bookriot), and Meet the YouTube Stars Turning Viewers Into Readers (NYT).
posted by filthy light thief (59 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
Here's a clip of Handy in action (from The Tick), for some title context.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:45 PM on August 9 [9 favorites]


Christ, it's so American to be like "You need to be reading more books-- so you can make more money!"

You know who reads more books than these captains of industry? Academics. Famous for their wealth.

The #1 reason I read fewer books nowadays is because I spend too much time... um, on the, ah, internet. Hi.

OTOH, when I do shut down the laptop and start to read a book, I almost always feel better, calmer, etc. afterwards.
posted by gwint at 2:48 PM on August 9 [54 favorites]


I'm shooting for 100 books read this year, and the first thing you should know is that you're going to be spending a lot less time on the Internet if you want to keep the pace (about two books per week).
posted by lefty lucky cat at 2:50 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


I would love to cut back my reading addiction to 50 or 100 books a year.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:50 PM on August 9 [10 favorites]


“If you want to be super rich, first get super rich so you have lots of free time. Then turn something fun into work because if you’re not working every waking moment, you’re wasting your life.”

If I spend literally every free moment reading (and I don’t) I’m lucky to get through a novel in a week or so. I just picked up a real doorstop, though, and it’s going to take at least a month of (enjoyable) very part time reading to get through. My totals this year will be a bit depressed.
posted by uncleozzy at 2:55 PM on August 9 [25 favorites]


My preferred version of this is just "I read 10-ks all day" where a 10-k is the Sec's filing number for annual reports.
posted by JPD at 3:00 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


I find that if I allow myself to just bounce off books and give up, I end up reading more on average.

This has also allowed me to attack some dense classic literature guilt-free, which it turns out they're classics for a reason!
posted by vogon_poet at 3:09 PM on August 9 [15 favorites]


Oh, so that's the problem. It's not systemic inequality. It's reading. Of not the right books. How silly of me not to have seen that.

Which series should I read that will make real wages enough that I can afford a four-person family with one job again? I wonder which magazine will fix it so that all income gains go to the rest of the 99.5% of people who haven't seen anything in years.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:20 PM on August 9 [25 favorites]


I'll get right on this, as soon as I'm caught up on my podcast backlog.

Yep.
posted by Sequence at 3:20 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Yes because we know that what makes white (mostly) men rich is some random habit they have, not anything to do with structural biases and advantages, luck, etc.
And the only reason you're not a rich white mostly man is because you're too lazy / stupid / not doing this one random thing.
posted by signal at 3:20 PM on August 9 [21 favorites]


My preferred version of this is just "I read 10-ks all day" where a 10-k is the Sec's filing number for annual reports.

I set myself a new-years goal to run a bunch of 10ks and read more but unfortunately I got them mixed up.
posted by atrazine at 3:21 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


Also, come on.

I don't doubt that Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and for all I know Mark Zuckerberg read a lot.

But... I know a lot of CEOs and for the most part they don't do a great deal of reading that is not directly related to their jobs.
posted by atrazine at 3:24 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


I've recently started trying to read more (currently reading Economics: the User's Guide and Lovecraft Country). But it is just so difficult after years of unconsciously diverting my attention to short-form content on Twitter, Reddit et al. I used to be able to read so quickly! I truly feel like my brain is fried from social media.

I will say, to all aspiring readers who don't know of it and happen to own an e-reader, Overdrive is a godsend. ALL THE BOOKS SHALL BE MINE!
posted by miltthetank at 3:25 PM on August 9 [3 favorites]


Winston Churchill kept grounded by reading novels during bombing raids on England during WWII.

I learned that from watching LOST on television.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:38 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


Elon Musk is usually included in this list, and since he also is on Twitter all the time I can say that the most obscure thing he ever cites is popular science fiction. These lists are real shams.

Anyway... I have been reading more lately and one thing I've noticed that has improved my reading greatly is using an app that allows highlighting (or developing a system of post its for paper books). Every morning I kind of glance through the things I highlighted and get a new appreciation for the book I'm reading.
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:40 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


My goal this year was 50 books and I'm at 45 and I'm damn proud! For me reading is like a muscle, the more you do it the easier it becomes. Now I have books on hold at the library, books stacked on my endtable, and cheapo ebooks on my Kindle. Oh, and listen to miltthetank -- Overdrive is freaking amazing. Has anyone started using Libby? If so, how different is it from regular Overdrive?

Booktube looks interesting, but my heart belongs to Bookstagram and book blogs.

My Goodreads link is in my profile and if you have one, I'll be looking at yours too.
posted by kimberussell at 3:40 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


The Libby user experience is much better. It allows almost all my library functions within the app, instead of flipping between the app and the library website. It allows highlighting but not copying (sigh).
posted by tofu_crouton at 3:44 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


"From Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates, all of the most successful leaders are avid readers" -- Why You Should Read 50 Books This Year (And How To Do It) (Fast Company). Is that target too low? How to read 100 books a year (Observer).

OK, what proportion of people who read 50+ (or 100+) books a year have riches like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates? Just so we can assess the causality here and suss out spurious correlations. Thanks in advance.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 3:49 PM on August 9 [5 favorites]


I just cannot get over the vulgarity of these articles. The whole thing is revolting. Come friendly bombs and fall on everything, all we care about is bling.

Also, it's not even true.

Bill Gates is retired, dude. Yeah, no doubt he reads a lot.

Mark Zuckerberg set himself a *goal* to read book every two weeks - he did that as an aspiration, once he was already a billionaire.

Elon Musk mostly reads technical books - but he's an engineer / engineering manager - so that's... expected? Ok, he also reads sci-fi books (although whether he does now or just used to is not clear) but that's not unusual for a tech dude.

The only person on these lists who really does read a lot and still has a day job is Warren Buffet. But... Warren Buffet is an investor! Research is actually his job, it's not like he has operating companies that he has to make day-to-day decisions for.
posted by atrazine at 3:49 PM on August 9 [16 favorites]


currently reading Economics: the User's Guide and Lovecraft Country

See, I got all the way to Amazon's search box before I realized you were referring to two different titles.

Quite disappointed.
posted by rokusan at 3:51 PM on August 9 [27 favorites]


I have fallen off the reading wagon lately while wrapped up in a cross-country move and a million other distractions, but since the new place has two bathtubs... or as I call them, reading rooms... I am hoping to make a squishy literary comeback before spring.
posted by rokusan at 3:52 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


Apparently there's something called 'bookstagram', which is apparently a hashtag for people who'd rather take pictures of books and obsess over likes and whatnot rather than, I don't know, read?
posted by signal at 3:56 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I read probably 5-10 books a week, but they're mostly fluff. I can finish up a standard mystery novel (300 pages or so) in an hour and a half. I just looked at the most recent 200 books I've put on my Kindle, and 30 are nonfiction, while another 10 could be considered "literary" fiction. The rest are mystery or science fiction. 200 books takes me back to June 30 2017, but of course that's not counting re-reading or books that are not on the Kindle. I haven't noticed it making me more successful- for business success I should probably be reading "Who Moved My Cheese" or some such tripe.

One thing I will say is that I miss having a president who reads. I loved the annual summer reading lists. I actually teared up when I saw President Obama say he was reading "The Three-Body Problem".
posted by Daily Alice at 3:57 PM on August 9 [17 favorites]


Realistically, we're not getting a revolution and the redistribution of wealth from rich to poor, so it would be great if these dudes read The Pickwick Papers and A Christmas Carol and learned to be kindly rich dudes who are happy to give their money away.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:59 PM on August 9 [10 favorites]


any reasonably grounded adult can read fifty books in a year, but it takes a special sort of genius to read a dozen books at the same time. At least, that's what I keep telling myself when I look at that pile by my bedside.
posted by philip-random at 4:22 PM on August 9 [11 favorites]


Cool cool, is someone going to come over and babysit my kid so I can spend all Saturday reading like I used to?
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:35 PM on August 9 [9 favorites]


Aside from all the other ickiness in the links, the sense that reading is some sort of moral responsibility that you should feel bad about not reading as much as famous rich white guys and come up with strategies to start reading 'again' speaks volumes.
posted by signal at 4:43 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


any reasonably grounded adult can read fifty books in a year

Counterpoint: I have slept 12 hours in the past three days, due largely to an iridescently irate toddler whose fever peaked at 105.1 two nights back. I read the politics megathreads for a few minutes at a time when my brain shuts down during work hours, and that's stretching the limits of my reading comprehension.

Pretty sure the word count isn't what's keeping me from turning into the next self-made billionaire.
posted by Mayor West at 4:46 PM on August 9 [11 favorites]


I can't stomach how the act of reading has been swallowed whole by the ideology of consumption. The constant concern with increasing our reading speed and reading more books than everyone else we know is contrary to everything that I get out of reading.

Who cares how many books you read if you breezed through them and didn't absorb more than an idea or two?
posted by kmkrebs at 5:03 PM on August 9 [25 favorites]


Well this thread certainly went in a direction. For me it’s “can I read more books than I did last year?” than “can I read more books than other people?” Because of course everyone has different circumstances.

And I think books can be pretty, which is why I enjoy the #bookstagram communities. Plenty of those posters read the books that they photograph. Plenty of the commenters write about the books as well.

But I’ll back out of the thread now and let others continue grinding their axes and making assumptions.
posted by kimberussell at 5:22 PM on August 9 [6 favorites]


I suspect that the academics here, especially the English professors like yours truly, have a different attitude to this? I'm always reading a book (or two, or three)--it's my job. I love my job, and I love reading, and I love my books (I mean, I am not actually joking when I tell people that I purchased this house specifically for my books), but reading does not automatically improve your character, make you a better leader, or anything else especially instrumental. The Wired article, I thought, "got" what reading can do for you better than the others--not least in pointing out that what a reader may need is not restricted to one narrow slice of literary fiction.

There have been times when I've had to read 100+ novels in six weeks or so as part of a research project; this isn't morally improving (especially when the novelists are, um, of a quality less than stellar). Sometimes the reading is enjoyable/provocative/entertaining/intriguing, like the novel I finished this afternoon, Jessica Anderson's The Commandant (1975) (historical novel set in 1830, exploring questions of moral responsibility via the fate of Captain Patrick Logan). Sometimes the reading is tedious in and of itself, and only comes to life when I begin writing about it. But there's always another book to be read.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:05 PM on August 9 [10 favorites]


I think putting the Buffett/Gates link first might have affected the tone of the thread, but I'm pretty sure most mefites are pretty voracious readers already. But not necessarily books, and in this day and age, good long-form journalism (which I get a lot of here) is perhaps more relevant than books that were written some months ago.
posted by TedW at 6:08 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Well this thread certainly went in a direction.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 7:45 PM on August 9 [7 favorites]


Art Garfunkel seems not to have updated his reading list since December 2017

The last entry is Cicero's How to Grow Old.
posted by BWA at 8:03 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


One time I read 11 books in one month.

11!!!!!!

I'm not rich!!!!!
posted by Golem XIV at 8:34 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]




I’ve already read about 80 books this year.

Still waiting for vast riches derived from reading habit , which will ideally be used to buy breezy Italian villa with Mediterranean views, where I can entertain friends, cook, write, and, yes, read more books. Trying not to be impatient. But seriously, I’d be way more fun rich person than Bill Gates, I think. And i’d definitely read more poetry.

(Currently working my way though the imposing stack I picked up in that NYRB sale next month).
posted by thivaia at 8:52 PM on August 9 [2 favorites]


I very much like the literary device employed in of having these characters like Cuban or Zuckerberg demonstrate how detached they are from reading at the same time they boast about what great readers they are. Very Austen-esque.

The Quartz bit is annoying but basically just pitched to people who don't read and don't hang out with readers. I would say most MeFites are not the target audience.
posted by mark k at 9:36 PM on August 9


I have done some things over the past few years that have greatly improved my reading.

- I got a Kindle. I read a lot more because of it. I still read some paper books, but the instant download convenience can't be beaten. Fantastic for travelling, too.

- I started recording a list of all the books I read, and marking the really good ones. Gives me a good sense of how much I've been reading (and thus whether I should get off the internet more).

- I started talking more with friends about books. Asking for recommendations, and giving them mine. Keeping a list of what I've read really helps with giving recommendations.

- I also have a "to read" list, so when someone recommends a book to me I don't forget about it. I don't treat it as gospel, but when it's time to get a new round of Kindle books it's a great resource. It guarantees I always have a book to read. Also useful when people don't know what to get me for a gift.

- I'm getting more ruthless at giving up on unenjoyable books. This year I've read 21 (on the low side, though there have been some long ones) and abandoned 6. The "you can give up once you've read 100 - N pages, where N is your age" rule is a good one, though occasionally a book is unenjoyable enough to break it.

- Reading mostly women authors. The first few decades of my life I read mostly male authors. I have a lot of balancing out still to do.

p.s. I just finished The Weight of Ink, by Rachel Kadish. Really good stuff.
posted by nnethercote at 9:47 PM on August 9 [4 favorites]


As for reading this year, 65 books, out of which I would recommend 10. I think I need to be more ruthless about dropping books and about skipping to the end if the book is not great, but I'm continuing because of mild curiosity about the plot.
posted by betweenthebars at 9:58 PM on August 9 [1 favorite]


“If you want to be super rich, first get super rich so you have lots of free time. Then turn something fun into work because if you’re not working every waking moment, you’re wasting your life.”

Well, the only way to really test causation is to have two test groups:
Group A reads a lot of books, and we wait and see if they become billionaires.
Group B is awarded 10 billion dollars each, and we wait and see how many books they read.

I think we have plenty of people in Group A already, so now I just need to find the sign-up sheet for Group B.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:10 AM on August 10 [6 favorites]


Read this one first:

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading
by Mortimer J. Adler, Charles Van Doren


Yes, it's that Charles Van Doren.
posted by craniac at 7:17 AM on August 10


Daily Alice: I haven't noticed it making me more successful- for business success I should probably be reading "Who Moved My Cheese" or some such tripe.

This was a framing fail on my behalf. I read (then lost) a similar article to the two first links and the general idea is that by constantly reading new material, and not just business-related books, these "leader" types are expanding their minds. One anecdote was someone who always had a book on hand, so any downtime between things could be "productive" reading time, which I thought was an interesting idea. And by leading off with the "CEOs read a lot!" links, I buried the interesting BookTube links :(

One thing I will say is that I miss having a president who reads. I loved the annual summer reading lists. I actually teared up when I saw President Obama say he was reading "The Three-Body Problem".

So true. Another loss to mourn (and motivate) under the current administration.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:38 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


One anecdote was someone who always had a book on hand, so any downtime between things could be "productive" reading time, which I thought was an interesting idea.

Even this though is weird to me--why the hell should you be worried about productivity in reference to reading? It's okay to relax and not try to be the capitalist ubermensch.
posted by TypographicalError at 8:07 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


How do people read a book a week or even just read more books?

I'm interested in finding out how it's done: the techniques, habits, and secrets.

Is it really just reading the first page and last page and maybe skimming the rest?
posted by FJT at 10:52 AM on August 10


It's okay to relax and not try to be the capitalist ubermensch.

not if you want to stay at top of the pyramid.
posted by philip-random at 10:55 AM on August 10


> FJT:"How do people read a book a week or even just read more books?"

Always have a book with you, or a kindle, or a kindle-like app on your phone. Read over your lunch break. Read before going to sleep. Don't spend time on TV, youtube, twitter, facebook, instagram, etc.
posted by signal at 11:10 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


How do people read a book a week or even just read more books?

I read during my commute, and I don't spend a lot of time on social media or watching TV. I recently watched Succession (which was fantastic and if anyone wants to talk about I am here for you), but if I hadn't, that would have been another 2-3 books. Kindle plus public library is the best combination in the world. I usually have twenty books checked out so if I don't feel like Well-reviewed Literary Novel, I can switch to Dead Butlers or Book That I've Been Reading Since 1999.

Honestly, I enjoy it. Books are not inherently more virtuous than other content delivery systems, so if there were something I liked more, that's what I would be doing.
posted by betweenthebars at 11:21 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Book That I've Been Reading Since 1999 is one of my favorites. It's actually part of a larger series that I've been devoted to for ages called Don't Put That One Away Yet, I'm Still Reading It.
posted by Cris E at 11:31 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


How do people read a book a week or even just read more books?

People vary wildly in their reading speed. Do you sound out every word in your head when you read? You'll read much faster if you don't. It's something that doesn't seem to be taught, though; some people just work it out for themselves.
posted by nnethercote at 1:45 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Books also vary greatly. A lot of business books are basically lists of bullet points.
posted by tofu_crouton at 2:12 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Apprently what's allowed me to read much more is having a paperwhite, and I didn't expect it. I've always gotten tired reading, although I love reading. I can now eliminate eye-strain entirely and keep my eyes from wandering. I make the font a bit bigger, get ready to hit "next page" a little more often (which is easier than even holding a physical book for awhile), and I've been cruising through 300-500 page books really quickly. It's actually been pretty amazing. Having the paperwhite has been essential to not getting distracted, also. I can buy/rent/check out books on my mobile phone or tablet, but with the paperwhite, it's dedicated to the task with no distractions (like email). And it's so nice to read compared to a computer/tablet screen. It's allowed me to make a habit of reading every evening before bed, and I've read more books in the last year than in the previous five combined. I never endorse products, really, but the Kindle paperwhite is one of the best things I've ever bought.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:33 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


Books are not inherently more virtuous than other content delivery systems, so if there were something I liked more, that's what I would be doing.

coming at this from the other angle, man it is SO hard to keep this in mind as I vacillate wildly between wanting to read any one of the dozens of books on my want-to-read list and instead wanting to a) play any one of the dozens of video games on my want-to-play list or b) watch any one of the dozens of TV shows on my want-to-watch list or c) take up any one of the hobbies that I etc.

reading (of any kind, really) is a wonderful, immersive, mind-exploding process and I envy anyone who has the time and/or compulsion to make it a habit, but I've always been a light reader the way some people are light sleepers (i.e. easily snapped out of it) and that can make it hard to really tunnel through something even if I'm loving it in those moments where I do find the time and place. but my passions and desires for consumption whipsaw of their own will; I'm just a passenger.

I will say that my kobo aura h2o (which I got because I am a snob, I guess, but also because it's incredibly waterproof) has made it a lot easier to find that time, especially for reading longform journalism or other internet things when I can port them to a paper-like format using the kobo and Pocket. it's allowed me to pick at something like chernow's hamilton endless, lovely-but-prone-to-digression biography without feeling like I'm trying to break through a brick wall with my skull
posted by Kybard at 2:39 PM on August 10


How do people read a book a week or even just read more books?

I went from reading two books a year to 64 books last year. Things that helped:

1) Going through my to-read list and cutting out anything that I wasn't excited about reading. Lots of books that I thought I "should" read but wasn't actually interested in, books that seemed kind of interesting but I wasn't super looking forward to reading them, etc. I still ended up with 400+ books to read so I don't feel like it limited me much.

2) Allowing myself to drop books. This means I'm also more likely to try books I'm interested in but wary about. I give myself 50 pages. If I'm not interested by then, it's not worth it. Sure, it may get better. It may end up awesome. But I could be reading a book that's awesome the whole way through. I will never be able to read all the good books out there--might as well spend my time on books that I enjoy all of.

3) Dedicating myself to always reading before bed. My goal is an hour before bed, often it's more like half an hour, sometimes it's just a chapter. One key part of this is I allow myself to stay up later to read, because I've found I sleep better when I read before bed than if I don't. So, going to bed at 10:30 without any reading is about the same as going to bed at 11:30 with an hour of reading beforehand. I try to get to my reading at 9:30, but if I can't, I let myself stay up at least a little later to read.

4) Checking out a bunch of books from the library at once. Having more books I'm excited to get to sitting in a prominent place motivates me to finish the books I've started.
posted by brook horse at 4:49 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


I probably read like 300 or more books a year and I’m the antithesis of successful. Oh well!

How? I don’t really know. I’ve always been like this - devouring books since the age of six. I don’t watch TV or movies for the most part and I read really fast. The kindle is deadly, actually, because i read even faster and run out of books that much quicker.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:23 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


Don't spend time on TV, youtube, twitter, facebook, instagram, etc.

So, I guess this means being on Metafilter less too then, huh?
posted by FJT at 8:02 PM on August 10


I've been reading the same book — Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II by John W. Dower — since 2015. I tried to start 2140 last year, but only got a few chapters in before I just couldn't anymore. I fantasize about reading at night or instead of endlessly scrolling some app, but it doesn't work on me like it used to.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:24 PM on August 10


Sometimes I think about something Koeselitz wrote in a similar thread a while back:
I have a feeling there are probably about five or six hundred books worth reading. Nobody knows what they are, but it's possible to get some idea and to choose carefully. If you do it right, in your life you have enough time to read about twenty of those well - going over them carefully, reading no more than a few pages a day, considering the words the author uses and the implication of everything that's said. I think it's a shame to waste that time gliding through another few dozen books that won't mean a damned thing to you a year from now. I've read Moby Dick through five times now, and more than that if you count the going back and pondering; was that a waste? And yet I get new things from it every time! I met a man once who had read Don Quijote (in Spanish, as he was a native speaker) every year during the month of his birthday since the year he'd turned 20; he was nearing 50 when I met him, and eagerly looking forward to taking up the book again. He said that the last five years had brought out new things that he'd never dreamed of finding in those pages, things which he'd somehow missed all the years before; he said that he felt as though he was finally getting a feeling for what Cervantes meant by his character.
posted by Iridic at 9:00 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


How to read 100 books in one year: My highest book count year involved two things: a quarterly book challenge and 1-2 hours after work each day waiting on my carpooler to finish their shift. If I am driving alone, I put on an audiobook at 1.25 speed or higher, depending on the reader.

The challenges got increasingly picky about what qualifies and now you can hardly include any MG/YA books at all. There is a 100 page minimum and many tasks have higher page requirements, so it is not about length. They also limit graphic novels, so that rules out a large chunk of my reading. There is enough low level snobbery around my preferred genres of books (and movies, and tv) without adding to it. I have tried other YA friendly challenges, but nothing has stuck as well as those did.

people who'd rather take pictures of books and obsess over likes and whatnot rather than, I don't know, read?
I don't think this kind of sneering commentary is necessary.
posted by soelo at 9:01 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


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