Don’t Know When I’ll Be Back Again…
A couple of years ago I made the decision to move away from the place where I’ve lived all of my life: Texas.
One of the main reasons I moved out was because I wanted to read more books.
I’m being serious.
Well, I felt like I was just wasting too much time driving. I know I was wasting too much time driving because I would put a CD in the deck and before the end of the day it would be back on track 1. Sometimes back on track 10.
I’m talking about 80 minute CDs here. This means I must’ve been spending like 100 minutes driving per day.
Way too much. For what? To turn a wheel around. To move my foot up and down between two peddles. How is any of this productive? How does it benefit me in the long run?
What else did I do while I was driving? Well, I would listen to music. Or I would think about things. Just flesh out ideas. Think and think and think.
I like doing both of those things. I like listening to music. I like thinking.
But, I don’t really need to drive to do either. I can do both of those just fine walking around aimlessly. Or sitting in a park.
I guess one benefit of driving is I could talk out loud to myself. But, I can also talk to myself while walking around aimlessly. Or even siting in a park. Passer-bys might think I’m crazy, but that’s okay. I used to do that in college too. My roommate back then once said he’d drive by sometimes and sees me walking around with headphones on and talking to myself. He said I was one of the few people who could get away with doing that, because people would see me and think, “oh, that’s just GP.” That’s what they used to call me back then: GP.
So I’ve been crazy. It’s okay.
Metros & Inspiration
I went to London a couple of years ago. I thought riding on the Tube was awesome.
Everybody I met in London complained about how bad the Tube was. But to me it was awesome. At least I didn’t have to drive.
I started to think about all the cool things I could do if I lived in a city with a good metro system (Americans call it a subway system). I could read more books. I could talk to random people.
I can’t do either of those when I’m driving.
I mean you can try. But, then you’re doing things like trying to get the girl next to you to write her phone number on the windshield before the traffic light turns red. Yeah, it’s not impossible. But, it’s logistically difficult.
So I sold my car and left Texas. I just didn’t want do drive anymore.
I wanted to read more. I wanted to talk to random people.
So, I’ve spend the last two years living in cities. Big cities with metro systems. Cities where you can walk around a lot. And just explore random neighborhoods. Just wandering around random streets. I’ve never gone this way before… So then I go that way.
I’ve also been reading a lot more.
I started out reading on an iPad. Then an iPhone. I had a Kindle app. I didn’t understand why people would need a Kindle when there’s Kindle apps.
But, then I eventually did understand.
I got tired of reading on those things. So, I quit reading.
My eyes would hurt. My head would hurt.
The Need to De-Screen
Too much time on backlit screens. I would spend all day looking at a computer screen. Now, I’m spending my commute time looking at a screen too. Too much screen time.
I got sick of it. I wanted to de-screen.
When I was in Taiwan, one of my mates (he’s Australian, so I think the that’s right term) had a Kindle. I asked him about it.
Then, I read about Kindles. I looked into it. They are made to read like a book. Without bothering your eyes like a screen does. It’s not a backlit screen. It’s e-ink. But, I was in Taiwan and there’s no Amazon there. I guess because it’s not a real country. I don’t know. I didn’t know Amazon played by the UN’s rules. Actually, I don’t know what they do. How do people in Taiwan shop on Amazon? I still didn’t figure it out.
So, then I looked up Kindles in Japan. Japan has become my go-to place to buy new electronics, because everything is so cheap here. I don’t know why. Maybe because the Yen is falling to pieces. I don’t think that’s the whole story though. I don’t know why really. All I know is when I bought my MacBook in Japan it was $300 cheaper than they are in the US.
So, I looked up Kindles. The new Kindle Paperwhite was $120 in the US, but only $70 in Japan. So, I waited until I got back to Japan to get it.
Actually, I think the money I’ve saved on my MacBook and my Kindle has probably paid for my plane tickets to Japan. But then again everything else in Japan is twice as expensive, including food and transportation, so it probably doesn’t work out if you actually take into account everything and do the math. Ahh, well… forget your numbers.
“You can make numbers do anything you want them to do. Including make yourself sound like an idiot.”
By the way that quote is from Kobe Bryant, so I should credit him for it. I don’t even like Kobe Bryant, but that’s a great quote. It’s even better in context. The context is: Kobe was on a radio show talking about how good Larry Bird was and that people seem to have forgotten how good Larry Bird was. And, some guy tweeted something like “if you look at the numbers, Larry Bird wasn’t even that great of a shooter.” See. I told you it was even better in context.
The Goal: 30 Books in the Next 6 Months
Since getting the Kindle I’ve definitely seen my reading go up. I’m finishing a book every couple of days now. And, I try to keep at least 5 unread books in waiting. That way as soon as I finish one, I can flip through and have a decent choice based on how am I’m feeling to determine what I read next.
I’m nowhere near Scott Young’s or Claire Diaz Oritz’s pace. I’ve only read about a dozen books in the past 9 months. But, that’s partly because I’ve still gone through 3-4 months periods without really reading much at all.
I’m actually starting to realize those kinds of numbers are possible.
For myself, I’m setting a goal to read 30 MORE books by the end of the year. Yeah, 30 books in 6 months is quite a jump from 12 in the past 9 months, but I’ve put some “hacks” in place to help me get there.
And, I know how to get there:
- Keep my work locations and home location separate. Don’t work from home. Home is a place to relax. There’s an old saying “don’t shit where you eat” – rather vulgar, but it gets the point across. So, that means I have to have a daily commute. Commute on the metro everyday. This not much else to do on the metro but read, so this forces a good everyday reading habit. Especially now that I have a Kindle.
- Spend weekends outdoors. I need to get away from the computer more. Get away from work more. And just overall relax more. One way to do that is to spend more days in the park on at the beach. Since I travel a lot there’s almost always a new park, a new beach, or even a new temple or something to explore. So, at least one day a week, I’m going to just leave my computer behind and head out with only my book and my camera. Relax and read.
- Take advantage of reading time wherever and whenever. Another good thing about having a Kindle and having a daily reading habit as mentioned above is I’m going to wind up getting really into a book. And not want to set it down. If I take advantage of this by just dropping by a cafe and continuing to read when the mood strikes me, I’ll be able to chill there for a couple of hours. Then, I’ll really get through books in no time.
Yeah. 30 books in the next 6 months. I’m going to make it happen. Which means I’m also going to stay out of Texas.
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6 thoughts on “I Moved Out of Texas So I Could Read More (How to Read 30 Books in 6 Months)”
I was wondering what sort of books do you read? Would you mind sharing some recommendations? Thanks in advance, John.
Sure. I read a lot of non-fiction. I tend to like biographies, but also other non-fiction as well. 3 books I’ve read recently that come to mind that I would definitely recommend are Choose Yourself by James Altucher, Babel No More by Michael Erard, and The Revenge of Geography by Robert Kaplan.
As far as biographies, I’m currently reading the Walter Isaacson book about Steve Jobs. I’m kind of late on this one I guess, a lot of people have already read it. I also read Brother by George Obama recently (Barack Obama’s youngest half-brother in Kenya) – that was an interesting story – you can tell he’s a smart guy, but he’s been through poverty, homelessness, crime, jail time, and battled alcoholism.
It’s been awhile since I’ve read a novel – but I’d probably look to historical fiction first if I wanted to read one again.
Good luck! I set a goal to read 52 books last year and managed to achieve it, although just barely. This year my goal is 54 books. I’ve fallen a bit behind but I imagine I’ll find a way to catch up.
Speaking from experience, my advice to you is to be picky about which books you read. When I’m on a roll I have no problem reading one or two books a week, but then I’ll hit an awful book that slows my progress. Last year I stopped reading almost completely for a month because I insisted on slogging through Robert Heinlein’s “I Will Fear No Evil” even though it bored me to tears. If you run into a book like that, don’t let it hold you up — either speed through it or toss it aside.
Good point. It’s been awhile since I’ve run into the same – but I’ve definitely done it before – let a book I wasn’t that interested in hold up my reading because I felt like I should finish it.
I know Claire Diaz Ortiz (I think I linked to her blog in the post – she read like 120 books last year and is aiming for 150 this year) said once that you have to “stop reading bad books” – so she’s made it a point to toss books aside when she doesn’t find them interesting.
I guess it could be a good rule of thumb in order to keep the momentum going.
Madness, I tell you! Does it mean you’re likely to toss aside long or difficult books because they’ll slow you down?
Really though, this was a fun post. Most of my travels/stay-stills are in part based on where I think the perfect place to read and write will be (invariably somewhere other than where I am) so I understand the motivation.
“Madness, I tell you! Does it mean you’re likely to toss aside long or difficult books because they’ll slow you down?”
Of course not. It’s really just a more general goal to read more: putting a number out there to have something to reach for. But hitting the number (of 30 books) is not really the important part. Just something to strive for.