If, like me, you use GoodReads’ annual Reading Challenge feature to track and record your reading goals, you may have noticed that many people are reading over 100 books a year.
That is very impressive and I’m more than a little envious of those numbers. The reason is that I have a substantial number of books, fiction and non fiction, that I’m hoping to get through in my lifetime.
I say lifetime because at my current rate of 25 books a year there’s no way I could get through my entire TBR list. I mentioned in a previous post – The Health Benefits of Reading – that I read every night before I go to bed. The thing is, while I read every day, it’s not long enough to achieve the kind of volume of books I’d like.
Then I found Charles Chu’s article about how to read 200 books a year. He describes how we can all read 200 books a year if we reallocated the time we spend on social media and watching TV to reading. He bases his calculations on a reading rate of 400 words per minute and the average non fiction book word count of 50 000 words.
I decided I would look into this calculation for myself to determine the veracity of his claim and get some numbers that are also relevant to fiction readers.
First, I took an online speed reading test. Chu’s article says the average American reads between 200-400 words per minute. On ReadingSoft, they describe the average reader as reading 200 wpm on screen and 240 wpm on paper with a 60% comprehension rate. They describe a good reader as reading 300 wpm on screen and 400 wpm on paper with 80% comprehension.
My result was 209 wpm on screen (25o wpm on paper) with 91% comprehension. I realised that everybody’s result will be determined by their personal reading style and the type of book they’re reading. My reading style may not be very fast compared to some but I read for full comprehension and I enjoy taking my time. Don’t worry about what the average reader is doing. This is personal so do an online test to get an idea of your own speed for your calculations.
Then I set out to find out about the word count of the average fiction and non fiction book. Chu’s article talks about 50 000 words for a non fiction book. A large number of us, though, are reading novels with around 100 000 words or more (depending on the format of the book, this would translate into a 300 page paperback book with 300 words per page).
So, what number of books is it possible to read per year? I recalculated using an average reading rate of 250 words per minute and an average book of 100 000 words.
If you dedicate a minimum of 60 minutes a day to reading for 365 days you’ll be able to read 55 books in a year.
If that doesn’t sound like much to you remember that you probably read books you’re enjoying faster than 250 wpm and there are going to be books that are both shorter and longer than 100 000 words. You might also be able to allocate more than one hour to reading per day, which means your books-per-year number could be 100 books or more.
What are your thoughts on this? With this in mind I’ve decided to allocate a time for reading in the morning in addition to before bed so that I guarantee I get at least 60 minutes of reading in a day whether I fall asleep with my book on my face or not.
At the very least, I hope this inspires you to be conscious of the amount of time you spend reading so you, too, can get to many more books than normal like all those GoodReads super heroes.
Macaneta is cut off from the mainland by the Inkomati river. People make the trip out to this rural area to spend time on the beach. It’s a very natural, sparsely inhabited place where cattle roam the wetland close to the river and its community have to make daily trips to the city and surrounds by ferry for everything they need.
The ferry is pretty iconic around here because if you’ve visited Macaneta you have undoubtedly spent some time waiting in line to be ferried across the river. It isn’t a very large ferry either – it only carries 6 cars at a time and takes about 20 mins to make the crossing.
A new bridge is set to replace the ferry that wanted to die ages ago. The community have had to make their way to the mainland by ferry or boat for a long time and this bridge will be life changing for them.
The bridge brings a lot of advantages that could not be foregone but as I looked through some photos from a few years ago I had to wonder how it will affect this little nature paradise.
Two years ago I packed up my entire home into boxes for a move to a new house. Ultimately, we didn’t move to that new house and I was stuck with all my stuff in boxes. While it was disappointing at the time, I look back with gratitude because it enabled me to do something very important.
I didn’t have the energy to immediately unpack everything because I was still quite disappointed with how things had turned out so I just unpacked what I really needed for that week. After that first week there were certain special items I missed having around me so I unpacked those. Within the first month I had unpacked what I really needed and what was very important to me and nothing more.
Months passed and what I came to realise was that I had been harbouring a LOT of stuff that I thought I needed, wanted, or would one day use that was just cluttering up my space and my mind. The really important result of not having all that extra stuff out is that I had the space both physically and mentally to re-evaluate my life a bit and see what I wanted to do next and how I wanted to live.
“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”
It seems that when you have all the stuff from your past still cluttering your home it becomes difficult to see the changes you actually want to make. Your stuff holds you back. I highly recommend clearing out the clutter to make space for the new to come in. Once I had everything out of the way I began to see how I could make my home’s style a better reflection of who I am now and what I’m aiming for.
“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”
I don’t expect you to go and pack up your whole house as I did to figure out what is worth your space and what is not (although if you can it works well) but I do have a strategy that I think can help you reach the same results in increments. Instead, pack up room by room.
Move from room to room in this way and if you are honest and strict with yourself you should have cleared out plenty of clutter and maybe even made a bit of money from it. When it comes to clothes the one month rule won’t apply to seasonal clothes so you may have to revisit your wardrobe each season and cull those pieces that don’t get worn within one month. Give it a try and see how you do. Do it every year if you want to. Like everything the more often you do it the better at it you’ll get.
If you find yourself needing a real push to help you declutter you might want to read famous Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. It is jam packed with quote-worthy motivation and revelations.
What’s your take on clutter, love it or hate it?
The Dhammapada is a collection of the sayings of the Buddha in verse form. It is one of the most widely read of the Buddhist scriptures and the most essential. There are many translations but I chose Easwaran’s because of a recommendation – the source of which I can’t for the life of me remember.
“As irrigators guide water to their fields,
as archers aim arrows, as carpenters carve
wood, the wise shape their lives.”
The Dhammapada is an easy and enjoyable read. It is full of simple wisdom some of which may seem like common sense but is lovely to be reminded of from the Buddha’s unique perspective. He has a very simple and down to earth way of delivering essential truths which is the essence of his teachings.
“…the Dhammapada seems more like a field guide. This is is lore picked up by someone who knows every step of the way through these strange lands. He can’t take us there, he explains, but he can show us the way: tell us what to look for, warn about missteps, advise us about detours, tell us what to avoid. Most important, he urges us that it is our destiny as human beings to make this journey ourselves. Everything else is secondary.”
Eknath Easwaran, The Foreword
The Dhammapada is described as a handbook to the teachings of the Buddha but it is Easwaran’s informative introduction on Buddhism and the text that give an extra insight to the seemingly simple words of the Buddha. I enjoyed reading his introduction and it serves as a great starting point not only for this text but for Buddhism on a whole.
If, like me, you’ve never read any Buddhist texts (or much about Buddhist teachings) this short book of verse is a great place to start, particularly Easwaran’s translation. The opening verse of the Dhammapada is a profound reminder that our lives are shaped by our minds and we become what we think:
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought:
we are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those
whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts
give joy whenever they speak or act. Joy follows
them like a shadow that never leaves them.”
It happened that earlier this year I read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, then some weeks later Easwaran’s Dhammapada, followed by The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle which in retrospect could not have been better planned. I didn’t read them back to back but each prepared me for the next and I think I was able to take a great deal more from each one’s message for having read them in this order. Obviously you don’t need to read them like this but if you’re interested I enjoyed this reading order.
I enjoyed and recommend reading The Dhammapada. A wide variety of translations exist but I found Eknath Easwaran’s Introduction a highlight of reading this book. He has also done translations of the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita which I hope to get to at some point also.
I have found that I’ve read many books at just the time I needed them, no matter whether they were fiction or non fiction, and on occasion the order in which I’ve read some books has been just right that it helped me fully digest or appreciate the books that came later.
This is true of The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle for me. I’m sure by now everyone has heard of this book. It has been translated into over 30 languages and even Oprah sings its praises. I’ve been meaning to read it for ages but honestly if I’d read it before now (no pun intended) I’m not sure I would have got the message. Earlier this year I read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse which led me on internet travels of Buddhist thought and I’m currently reading Eknath Easwaran’s translation of The Dhammapada whose introduction was very interesting reading. Both those books got me into the right frame of mind for The Power of Now.
It’s not the easiest self help book to get through. At first I wasn’t really comfortable with the question answer style of certain parts as I prefer a narrative style but you do get used to it. You may or may not be familiar with some of the ideas that form the basis for Tolle’s message. Your familiarity with or exposure to some of the concepts in the book could potentially affect how you feel about it. Stick with it, read slowly, let it percolate.
I do think it is an important book for us all to read at some point. It’s a short book but best read slowly. There is a lot to take away from The Power of Now but the most basic message as you may have guessed is related to time. There is no time but Now. The past is but memories and the future is imagination, the only thing you need to concern yourself with is now. This is quite liberating if, like me, you often find yourself worrying about a future that doesn’t exist yet and a set of problems that may never exist.
The more time that passes since finishing it the more I realise about its implications for my life. I’m sure that no matter what you’re going through; good, bad, or meh, there’s something for you in this book that will help you. If you’ve already read this book I’d love to hear what you thought about it.
Self education is a vital part of life. It’s learning on your own terms. You decide what you’ll spend time on and which resources to use. This is important if we hope to be innovative and creative in our lives and endeavours. Many start on a self education journey with a clear goal in mind; to learn a specific skill for their career, but we should also do it for ourselves – for personal expansion. Whatever you’re interested in or always wanted to learn — don’t wait — make yourself a map for your own self education journey. Here, you’ll find some guidelines to help you do that.
Autodidactism or self education is any self-directed learning on a subject in which you have no formal education. Malcolm Knowles in his 1975 book Self Directed Learning explains the process of self education:
“In its broadest meaning, self-directed learning describes a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate learning strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.”
So if you want to teach yourself writing, coding, photography, Photoshop, or [insert any topic here], these are the steps to follow based on Knowles’ definition of self directed learning:
Is there something specific you are interested in learning? Is there a particular skill that you need to improve your skill set for your career? Are you looking to make a career change and now need to learn a completely new set of skills? Define exactly what it is you will be teaching yourself.
You know what you will be learning but now you need to set goals. What level of learning do you need to achieve and, if necessary, by when? What tasks within your chosen area do you need to be able to complete to feel satisfied or to meet certain professional requirements? Do you want to be able to pass a proficiency exam? Define what you want to achieve.
See if there is anyone in the area you are interested in who would be willing to help with your learning; someone who you could talk to, email with questions, or intern for. Seek out people who are learning the same subjects as you and exchange information and experience. Join a community if there is one or create one if there isn’t. Identify all the resources you will use to self educate. There are lot of resources available to you. One of the most important is books. List the books you will read. Go to the library, seek out the relevant literature, and have a look at university reading lists. Be sure to check for Further Reading lists at the back of books. The internet is also a rich resource but always check the veracity of your learning sources online. Find out what other people learning the same thing are reading and using.
What will your learning process be? How will you approach your learning? How will you combine theory and practical? What will your daily/weekly learning plan be? How much time will you dedicate to each resource? How do you plan to test your knowledge or skills?
Evaluate the outcome of your learning. Were you successful, and why? Were you unsuccessful, and why? What could you improve on? What would you change about your process? What will you need to revisit?
No matter whether you are learning for your own interests or working toward a particular goal, like an exam or an improved CV, following these steps not only helps you define your learning and narrow your goals. It immerses you in the topic, connects you with others, and gets you up to speed on all the on goings in the field.
Abraham Lincoln is one famous autodidact who said, “All I have learned, I learned from books”. Read as much as you can. Read as widely as you can. Read from varied opinions of a subject.
There are a great number of other notable autodidacts too, like’ Leonardo da Vinci, Henry Ford, Charles Darwin, Ernest Hemingway, William Blake, Karl Marx, Benjamin Franklin, and Frida Kahlo to mention just a few. No one is as finely attuned to your interests and needs as you are. This undoubtedly makes you the best guide for your own learning.
“All the world is my school and all humanity is my teacher.” — George Whitman
Going on holiday is always exciting. I love holidays and while flying to your next destination often means you can travel to more distant places much more quickly there is something special about loading up the car and hitting the road.
Here’s why making your next holiday a roadtrip will be good for the soul:
Get out your map book and plan a trip somewhere new. Get your car ready. Hit the road. Simple as that. Don’t forget to leave some time open to explore, discover, be a bit spontaneous. I guarantee you’ll have a great time.
I sat down and read this book cover to cover in an hour. It is a fabulous, thought-provoking, and inspiring book filled with drawings, word art, and great advice. In the way it is written and designed it gets you thinking practically and creatively. I found it part inspiration and part workbook which was very helpful.
The GoodReads blurb: “Who hasn’t asked the question “How can I find and follow my true calling?” Elle Luna frames this moment as “standing at the crossroads of Should and Must.” “Should” is what we feel we ought to be doing, or what is expected of us. “Must” is the thing we dream of doing, our heart’s desire. And it was her own personal journey that inspired Elle Luna to write a brief online manifesto that, in a few short months, has touched hundreds of thousands of people who’ve read it or heard Elle speak on the topic. Now Ms. Luna expands her ideas into an inspirational, highly visual gift book for every recent graduate, every artist, every seeker, every career changer. The Crossroads of Should and Must has a universal message—we get to choose the path between Should and Must. And it gives every reader permission to embrace this message. It’s about the difference between jobs, careers, and callings. The difference between going to work and becoming one with your work. Why knowing what you want is often the hardest part. It gives eye-opening techniques for reconnecting with one’s inner voice, like writing your own obituary (talk about putting life in perspective). It talks about the most common fears of choosing Must over Should—money, time, space, and the ultimate fear: total vulnerability—and shores up our hesitation with inspiring stories of and quotes from the artists and writers and thinkers who’ve faced their own crossroads of Should and Must and taken the leap. It explains the importance of mistakes, of “unlearning,” of solitude, of keeping moving, of following a soul path. Presented in four chapters—The Crossroads, The Origin of Should, Must, and The Return—inspired by the hero’s journey outlined by Joseph Campbell, The Crossroads of Should and Must guides us from the small moment, discovering our Must, to the big moment—actually doing something about it, and returning to share our new gifts with the world.”
As the title suggests this book is great for people seeking their life calling and for people who are at a crossroad in their life and not sure what to do next. This short book will guide you through sorting through the basic questions you need to answer to get to the root of you and begin to formulate small actions you can take to move forward. Luna’s idea isn’t about making a decision and making an overnight transformation. It is about the process or journey to your ‘Must’ which is far more achievable and sustainable for us all.
I loved the quotes throughout and I especially liked the questions Luna asks you to ask yourself and the suggestions she gives for what you can do. I made a few notes along the way and brainstormed my answers to the questions she poses in the book. Reading this book was a great exercise in working out my direction. This isn’t a book about abandoning your job to pursue your passion without a plan. This is about helping you work out how you can live your passion and pay your bills. But at the same time it proposes that you not be afraid of a path which has no easy answers or no set guidelines.
For no other reason than to know yourself better I recommend this book; from its questions which get you to examine your Shoulds so you can know your prison, its prompt for you to define your must-have money vs. your nice-to-have money, to creating your ‘what-are-you-so-afraid-of’ list, you are bound to learn something about where you’re at and where to next.
A lovely book to boost your life and creativity for anybody and everybody.