It’s December already so it’s a good time to make a summary of the last months. Many or the majority of us will say that one word can describe this year: pandemic. However, I would like to focus on the good things which happened. I will start about a change of my reading habit and the best books which I read this year.
Reading is the most powerful and the cheapest option to widen your knowledge, perspective but also creativeness. It’s good to know that if you would like to have a strong reading habit we need two additional ingredients – focus and time.
The lack of time
If you ask anyone, why he or she doesn’t read, the answer probably will be – I don’t have time! To find the solution for that you need to ask ourselves:
- Do you schedule a time for reading?
- How much time do you waste every day on unproductive activities?
Let’s face the second question first. We are not normally used to count how much time we spend scrolling social media or watching low-value videos on youtube. I need to add that I also waste some time on these activities but I try to do it in a controlled way. The thing is that we can use whole or part of this time to read books.
I have implemented two solutions – the first one is to throw away my smartphone in a place where I don’t have easy access. The second one is to schedule a 30 minutes reading session after my working hours. Scheduling can be also done in different ways, for example
- 5 minutes of reading per hour during the workday – it will give 40 minutes (4×8 standard working hours) of valuable time with a book – of course, if your work allows you to do this.
- 15-30 minutes of reading before your day at work begins (however you have to wake up earlier).
- 3 pages of a book during every meal (if you eat 4 times per day it gives you 12 pages of book in total).
- Reading during your lunchtime instead of scrolling Facebook
- 15-30 minutes before your bedtime – you have to just put a book on your night table and set a reminder, for example on your smartphone.
there are many more combinations. I can sum up them in a conclusion that we need scheduled time in the beginning of our journey with reading. Without that, it will be easy to find excuses and forget about it.
Creating the reading habit
Another problem which you can face is a lack of focus. I, for example, prefer to read in a silent place so for my scheduled time I’m moving to a separate room. If you can prefer the same, but for example, you don’t have a separate room, go to the bathroom, really. But if you can read in a noisy place there is no issue at all but you can tell your family to not disturb you. They will understand.
I love math and I use its approaches in many fields of my life. If you plan to create a reading habit math also will be helpful in that. The beginning is always hard but after one or two months you will see that reading is something natural for you.
To start you have to set a goal. In the beginning, it should be the small one – for example 5-10 pages of a book every day. If we assume that a standard person reads around 250 words per minute and one standard book page has 300 words then this activity will take you a maximum 5-12 minutes. To be honest – everyone can find this amount of free time each day. By doing that you can read one book per month so 12 books per year. It’s a nice result assuming that only around 9% of the population in Poland read more than 7 books.
After 3-4 weeks, you can extend it to 15 pages. The important thing is to keep to your reading schedule (I wrote above about it). If you have completed your daily goal mark this day in the calendar on your wall with a big red “X” and watch how your chain is being longer and longer with the next days. Don’t allow yourself to break your chain and keep going!
My top 6 books of the year 2020
After this long introduction, it’s time to present my favorite books from this year. I included lessons which I have taken from them. In brackets, I wrote polish title of each book, if available.
1. The miracle morning by Hal Elrod ( Fenomen poranka ) & The 5 am Club by Robin Sharma
Have you ever wonder how to have more time, be more productive, effective, keep good mental and physical health? The answer is – you should wake up earlier and create your own morning routine.
Both positions are about creating your own morning routine. The book was written by Hal totally changed my perception. It talks about how to start, what are the rules, benefits and so on. Robin, on the other hand, presents also rules and benefits, but in the form of a story about two people who would like to transform their life – and they did it by meeting a mentor who presents his morning routine.
What I have learned from these books is that the change doesn’t happen over time. It requires constant effort. However, it can be sped up if we have additional time at the beginning of each day. The truth is that how our morning looks determine how the rest of the day will be. I’m a huge fan of the morning routine and these are the best books which I have read about this topic so far.
2. Start with the Why by Simon Sinek ( Zaczynaj od dlaczego )
If you are looking for a clear direction in your life, career or in your plans this book definitely will be for you. Most of us know what we are doing and how we are doing, however few of us can describe why they are doing something. Simon Sinek gives examples of how companies, especially Apple, established their “Why” and how everyone can find their own.
For me, this book was a trigger to change my thinking about planning and realizing personal goals. I have to have a motive for each of my plans. It’s needed to be fully engaged in further realization.
3. Switch. How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath ( Pstryk! )
This book is one of many about change. But the difference is that principles can be applied to every type of change: from changing cleaning habits to revolutionizing the world. They are focusing on three areas of change – direct the rider, motivate the elephant and shape the path – it might sound weird but trust me it is worth reading. For each chapter authors included real-life examples.
It was the first book that I have read about change management but for me, it is beneficial to read it every year. It includes much practical advice that can be implemented immediately, without a lot of effort.
4. Collins Good Writing Guide by Graham King
If you are not a native English speaker or you are but have feeling lost in all grammatical rules and would like to know how language works – this book will answer most of your questions. It’s quite big (803 pages) but includes everything, from grammar, punctuation, and spelling to how to improve writing skills and many more.
I found this position very useful when it comes to improving my writing skills. It opens my eyes to linguistic nuances but also gives a fresh and understandable overview of language at all. I highly recommend it for everyone who would like to also start his or her journey with English.
5.Thinking fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman ( O myśleniu szybkim i wolnym )
Author, the Nobel Prize winner, takes on a tour of the mind. He describes the systems which drive our way of thinking. This is a brilliant book about the decision making process and judgments which we, as humans, have to perform constantly. The book is packed with many specialized words but they are required to describe all processes.
Due to the fact that I’m interested in how the mind works this book was a game-changer. It gave me a wider view of how people behave when they have to make a choice. Also, it’s allowed me to be more aware of the decision-making process.
6. Loosing my virginity by Richard Bransons ( Kroki w nieznane )
2020 was also full of biographies in my “to read” list. I read books about Steve Jobs and Elon Musk but Richard Branson biography I found the most impressive and fantastic. The founder of Virgin Group shared his story and memories which sound unbelievable.
His example shows that everything is possible. Most of us are afraid of risk but it is the only way to achieve everything we want. We can learn a lot from Richard’s experience and how to have a lot of fun in life.
What were your favorite books of this year? Share them in the comments.
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