You can lose everything. Your job, your wealth, your friends, and even your home. But will never lose your knowledge.

If you lose your business, you still know exactly how you built it in the first place. You have something that others don’t: knowledge. Knowledge is power. You gain knowledge by reading. Therefore, by reading, you are becoming increasingly more powerful.

  • Bill Gates read 50 books a year.
  • Warren Buffett reads 500 pages a week.
  • Mark Cuban reads for 3 hours a day.
  • When asked how he learned how to build rockets, Elon Musk answered; “I read books“.
  • Tim Ferris said that he reads about 3–4 books a week.

As you can see, leaders are readers. This proves the point: knowledge is power.

Exercising the Mind

As we all know, exercise is one of the most amazing things that you can do for yourself. Then, reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body.

It is all about constantly improving your mind (and body) — about becoming better and broadening your knowledge. You can learn anything.

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one." –George R. R. Martin

Think of reading books as if an expert in the field is personally coaching you. Books are mentors in written form. You only get one life. But by reading you are handed so many people’s life experience and knowledge.

Saving a Soul

"I’m not saying that you have to be a reader to save your soul in the modern world. I’m saying it helps."—Walter Mosley

I love this quote so much because this is one of the biggest benefits of reading that I have experienced. Reading provides me with a sense of direction. It’s like a compass to life. You learn to find your way.

How do I Start?

"Read 500 pages every week. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up like compound interest." –Warren Buffett

What this essentially boils down to is priorities. If you make reading a priority, then you’ll spend time on that rather than other tasks where you may just be “killing time”. That way, you will read so much more than if you merely read when you felt like it. Anything action you take is a choice. Even inaction is a choice. Spending time on mindless things takes time away from other things that help you become a better version of yourself. There is, and should be, time for relaxation — everyone needs that. But to pick up reading, a great start is just to start slow. Start out by reading a small chapter, or even just a page.

Here are a few tips:

  • Sign up to Goodreads and take part in the yearly reading challenge. Pick a number of books that you want to read this year. Aim a little high. That way, even if you miss, you’ll still have gone far.
  • Using the X Chain, a method originally created by Jerry Seinfeld, which is about using a calendar. Every day, after reading for your specified amount of time, you make an x. After a few days, you’ll have a chain — your goal is now to not break that chain. Remember: even a little action is still an action. The worst thing you can do is not taking any action.
  • Another way that I like to pick up new things is to make a 21-Day Challenge for myself. I put in on my to-do list to remind me of this every day for 21 days. You can make it a challenge to read for 30 minutes a day, every day, for 21 days.
  • The last tip I have for you is to have an accountability buddy — or buddies. Ask others to join you. If you really don’t want to do that, then go to the Betterment Book Club on Reddit. There you will find readers that are interested in reading together — it’s a book club after all. As I said, something that has helped me build habits is to be a part of a community of like-minded people. You can read more about that in my previous article here.

I’m reading. Now what?

When you are reading a lot of books, something that helps is to take notes or highlight the most important concepts.

That way, you are more likely to internalize the content. Also, if you take notes, make sure that you don’t just copy what the author wrote. Make sure to write it in your own words. Because to paraphrase something, you have to really understand it first.

After reading a chapter, recap what it was about in your head. I would not recommend writing a summary of each chapter, that would just take too long. Taking notes is about capturing the essence of something.

When you are finished reading the book you should summarize it using your notes. Capture the essence of the book. This also makes it easier to go back and review it.

But, the most important thing is to take action on what is said in the book. It helps you remember what you read, but most importantly, it takes the author's advice and life experience and applies it to your life. You now have the notes. Use them.