Make a Habit of Reading Books You Enjoy

I look forward to those Sunday mornings when I can sit down with a cup of coffee and read through the Farnam Street Brain Food Newsletter. Farnam Street, founded by Shane Parrish, shares information on mental models, decision making, learning, reading, and the art of living. The material on the site provides a real, meaningful alternative from the crap that exists in other parts of the internet and social media.

This morning’s Brain Food newsletter caught my attention with it’s lead article Why You Shouldn’t Slog Through Books. A couple of years ago Farnam Street suggested a way to read more and make your way through large books: form a habit of reading at least 25 pages a day, every day. The thought was that if you keep that habit up, over time you will make some considerable progress through those huge volumes that you always wanted to read, but couldn’t find the time.

The post in this Sunday’s newsletter addressed two misconceptions about that first article. First, the 25 pages was a minimum not a maximum. Reading at least 25 pages will help you form a habit, and there will be many times where you’ll find yourself keep going.

Second, if you don’t find a book interesting, don’t keep reading it. Just because you’ve had a book recommended to you, or it’s a classic doesn’t mean you have to read it (unless this is my daughter reading this and the book is a homework assignment). Put the book aside – you may find it’s a better tie in with your interests later. Or, you may find that you can consume the book better in different ways – ie audio.

That second piece of advice especially caught my eye. I had started a quest to read Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy (affiliate link) and while I found the subject matter interesting, I also found that it couldn’t hold my attention reading it. I found myself switching back to the library on my Kindle App to see what other books I was missing out on while I was reading this one.

The Farnam Street Post helped me to remember that the way I consume history and large works like Russell’s book is to listen to them, not read them. So I downloaded the audible version of the book (affiliate link) and can now turn my attention to books I’ve been meaning to read and summarize for this site and for

I wasn’t previously aware of the 25 pages a day suggestion, so finding out about it comes at a great time. I was looking for a way to put my evenings at home to good use rather than roaming around social media getting irritated. This provides a nice path forward to make progress through my backlog of books and help me to identify ways to continue living an effective life.

The Five Year Plan

My wife and I have a plan.  This should not be surprising to anyone who knows us as we are both planners, though one is much more of a planner than the other.

Our plan is that by the time our daughter graduates from high school, we are able to go where we want to go, when we want to go there. In other words, we’re seeking to be location and schedule independent.

While it’s nice to dream of “early retirement” we’re going to probably need to do some sort of income generating activities.  My view is that I’ll always want to do something, so I want to make sure it’s something I enjoy that doesn’t require me to be in a specific location and to be tied to a specific schedule.

With my current gig I am mostly there. My wife has a little ways to go to get to that point.  My posts on effectiveness will cover the techniques I’ve used to get to location independence, what I’m working on to get to schedule independence, things we’re trying to get my wife there, and what we do to make the most of those opportunities.

I’ll admit, a lot of the tips and techniques that I’m going to share are things I’ve heard from the slew of personal improvement books, podcasts, blogs that are already out there.  So you may be wondering – why add to the overwhelming amount of content out there surrounding personal improvement.

That’s a good question, and one that I’ve struggled with for a while. I decided to go ahead with it because I provide a different perspective than a lot of the personal development and self help content out there.

First, I’m still going through the journey and will make some mistakes along the way.  I’ve found I do learn from mistakes, but I learn even more when I can talk through (or in this case write through) the lessons I’ve learned while they happen.

Second, while I have location independence, and I have a good income, that income is tied to a specific gig.  Many of the people I look to for personal development guidance have through one way or another removed the need for a a gig either because they had smash book sales, are bringing in revenue from course sales, had great investing success, or a combination of those things. I’m not there yet and I imagine a lot of people who also look at personal development information aren’t there yet either.  I can discuss how the personal development techniques I hear about work for someone in my context, and hopefully you’ll find that helpful.

Finally, I’m doing all this from a piece of paradise in the middle of Iowa, not a big city. That means that there are some time saving techniques and life hacks may not work exactly the same, and my role as #ubersherpa becomes even more important. At the same time, we’ve removed ourselves from some of the stressors that city life brings, so we wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I encourage you to join me on my journey to fulfilling our five year plan. Hopefully you’ll be able to pick up some ideas along the way that will help you with whatever plans you have to lead your own effective life.