When asked how to get smarter, Warren Buffet held up a large stack of documents and exclaimed “read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge builds up, like compound interest.”
Have you ever wished you could read like like Warren Buffet? Today I’m going to share with you how I went from hardly reading a book a year to reading a book a day. And I guess to be 100% transparent; I’m actually listing to these books not actually reading them.
The process I share below will demonstrate how you can digest massive amounts of content in your spare time.
Maintaining a Healthy Book Cue
The first thing I suggest doing before starting this process is getting a method together for recording book suggestions. Many non-fiction books, especially those in the personal development category, reference other materials, including works from other authors. One of the best ways to feed your desire for knowledge is to keep a steady momentum going in your reading (listening) habits. The way I do this is to make sure that I have a tool for recording any recommended book titles or resources that may come up during the listening process. In my case, I use the iPhone Reminders app to jot down any book titles referenced in any book that I happen to be listening to. This ensures that I always have at least 4 or 5 books in the cue at any given time. Really, you can use any recording method from a physical notebook to a mobile application like Evernote, but don’t miss this step. It’s vital in ensuring that you have a continual path forward.
If you do a Google search for the term audio books, one of the first sites that you will come across is audible.com. They are undoubtedly a leader in the audio entertainment space, and for many, the first point of reference into the world of audio books. Audible is available both on Apple and Android devices. If you have never tried audible, I highly suggest signing up for their free trial. This gives you access to a free book for 30 days with no commitments. If you are really serious, you might want to just sign-up for a subscription.
Once you get signed up for Audible and have downloaded their mobile app and listened to a few books, I recommend doing a few things to optimize your listing and learning experience. The first being to add books to your library. Referencing your book suggestion list, you can search for any titles available in Audible’s database and add those to your wish list or download cue.
After a reading a few books, Audible will start to suggest titles based upon those that you have already downloaded.
Additionally, you discover new books by looking at the “People who bought this also bought” section.
If you find a particular author’s work is inspiring, you can also search by author to see if they have any other titles available.
Once you get accustomed to listening to books on your smartphone, I recommend adjusting some of the options to optimize things a bit further. Audible gives you the option to play book titles at higher speeds. This means that you can literally cut the time it takes to get through a book in half. I know what you are thinking, Alvin and the Chipmunks, right? Wrong. While the experience can fluctuate based upon the books narrator and natural reading speed, in most cases a speed of 1.25x or even 1.50x sounds perfectly natural, and in some cases even better than at the naturally recorded speed. Studies have shown that reading at an accelerated pace helps improve comprehension. While I have not seen any similar studies for audio books, in my experience I find a slight increase in dictation speed keeps my mind from wondering.
The second service I use to accelerate my book intake is an application called Blinkist. Blinkist is comprised primarily of non-fiction books, and unlike Audible where you listen to books in their entirety, Blinkist highlights the most pertinent takeaways of a book, packaging them up into 15 min segments. Talk about accelerated learning! Now while taking a lunch break, I can consume the most pertinent takeaways from books like The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs or I can learn the “Art of Social Media” from authors like Guy Kawasaki. Blinkist is available both on Apple and Android devices at a cost of $79.99 a year for an all you can eat subscription.
While more and more books are available in audio format, every once in a while there is a book in my list that is only available in text format. This is where Amazon’s Kindle application comes into play. There 1000’s of book titles on Amazon and with a small work around on my iPhone, I can turn any Amazon e-book title into an audio book.
The first step to making this work is downloading the Kindle application onto your iPhone, signing up for an account, then downloading a book of your choice. Before being able to have this title dictated to you, you will need to make some modifications to your iPhones settings. To do this follow the below steps:
Launch the Settings app from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad
- Tap on General
- Tap on Accessibility
- Under Vision at the very top, tap on VoiceOver
- Turn On VoiceOver by tapping on the On/Off toggle
From there, I recommend adjusting the speaking rate speed, as well as turning on the pitch changes, and playing with the different voice options to find what ones sound the best to you.
Can I afford this?
By now I’m sure some of you are thinking, “I can’t afford all of this,” but really what is the price of education? To take it a step further, what is the price of your cable bill or coffee habit? For a fraction of what you likely pay for cable and coffee each month, you can start consuming content that makes you a smarter and more interesting person to talk to.
They say that readers are leaders, and if you want to read like Warren Buffet but don’t have the luxury of having 5 hours a day free for reading, these methods are the next best thing. With these methods in place, you can turn your morning and afternoon commutes into powerful accelerated learning sessions.
If you have some tips around accelerated learning, we would live to hear them in the comments section below.