Read more books, spend less, learn more, and declutter your shelves.
Photo by Prophsee Journals on Unsplash
I like to have some structure in my life, and that extends to my reading experience. I read one book at a time. That’s how I get the best out of it.
Over time, I have naturally created and optimized my minimalist “bookflow”. It’s like a workflow, but for the readers.
Among its advantages: I read many more books, I get much more out of it, I’ve cleared my shelves, I’ve saved money, and I’ve progressed on my life’s path. Because that’s what books are for.
“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” — William Styron
My bookflow consists of 5 parts. Ready?
Among the billions of books available, how do you choose which ones to put on your list?
- Chance: Some days I feel like walking to my local bookshop and getting lost for a few hours among the shelves and stacks of books. I like the cozy and soothing atmosphere of this place. I grab the books that catch my attention, I leaf through them, read a few paragraphs, before deciding whether or not they join the books already slipped under my arm.
- Recommendations: The self-help books I read often contain reading recommendations. I like it when this happens because it creates an interesting thread. Otherwise, my friends and family recommend books to me. Or I find ideas in the many blog posts I read. This is the case of the one I’m currently reading, “Tribe of Mentors” by Tim Ferriss, which I highly recommend.
Books are expensive. I don’t mind spending part of my income on books, since they are food for the mind. But still. Here are my tips for spending less on your books, and therefore reading more :
Get a library card
- Pros: It’s free
- Cons: The choice is limited, you cannot underline paragraphs, you have a limited amount of time to read it, and you cannot keep it.
Find reading partners
Find bookworm friends like you and set a day every week, or every fortnight, where you can meet for coffee and discuss your current reading. Afterward, exchange books with each other.
- Pros: You end up reading several books for the price of one, you get feedback from your friends, you can discuss the books, all of this improve your reading experience.
- Cons: You still can’t keep it or underline it.
Buy second-hand books
That’s my favorite solution. I find them in three different places.
Available in several countries, it is a platform where people sell their used clothes and books.
- Pros: It’s often cheap and transactions are secure. Vinted has opened up to several countries, so the offer is vast, and it’s easy to find exactly the book you are looking for. The book is yours so you can do what you want with it.
- Cons: Apart from the need to pay postage, I don’t see any.
- Pros: It’s soothing to wander in these quiet places, it helps the local shops, and you can make wonderful finds.
- Cons: It’s not always that cheap. And it’s not the ideal place if you want to find a specific book.
People sell them their second-hand books, and Momox then resells them.
- Pros: They offer a wide choice, and it’s often very cheap.
- Cons: Delivery time is very long.
I don’t start a new book until I finish the current one. But there is one exception. I used to force myself to finish my books, even if I didn’t like them. Except that I ended up not wanting to read anymore. Now, if it really doesn’t arouse any interest in me, I leave it.
Here comes the part that will divide the crowds. I underline my books and fold the pages. I know some people can’t stand it, but that’s how I get the best reading experience out of it.
I can go through entire books without feeling the need to underline a single word. Other times I could literally underline the whole book (which is the case with “Tribe of Mentors”).
So I take my pencil, underline each word, sentence or paragraph that creates a spark in me, add a small arrow in the mark to make the passage more visible, and fold the page.
Then comes the “special notebook” part.
It’s great to underline all these striking quotes. But what do you do with them afterward? Chances are you only remember one or two lessons and forget the rest.
I bought a notebook to remedy this. It’s a simple one, very small, with spirals. Once I finish reading a book, I open each page folded from the beginning and religiously copy every significant quote I have underlined.
I like to have this notebook because it brings together the best of my experience as a reader. All these nuggets end up in one place.
I have reached a point in my life where the minimalist lifestyle is what suits me best. I don’t see the point of keeping, accumulating, cluttering up, and filling up my house and my mind.
I keep only the best in my library. Before I’ve read half a book, I already know if it is one of the books I’m going to keep or not. I keep about a quarter of my reads. The ones that are underlined stay with me automatically, since that means they have left their mark on me, and they are unsaleable anyway.
To find out whether I keep a book, I ask myself two questions:
- Has it brought anything to my life?
- Will I read it again?
I have two ways to get rid of my old books:
Of course, I don’t recommend books I didn’t like. But sometimes I do enjoy a read, but I find that another person will enjoy it better than me. I like to give it as a gift to this specific person, just as much as I like it when someone gives me a specially chosen book.
I sell my books on Vinted. It’s doing quite well. I sell them at half the purchase price, and that allows me to earn money to buy my next books. I like the whole process, knowing that the book is going to fall into someone else’s hands, that its teaching is being passed on.
In short, I find my books in my readings or my surroundings, I buy them second-hand, I record all the teachings in my special notebook, I am drastic in my choices to keep them or not, and I sell them so that I can buy others.
This bookflow has led me to read more, learn more, improve my reading experience, and spend less. I like the fact that books have a story. They pass from one hand to another, from one life to another. That pretty much sums up their purpose, which is to bring meaning and experience into people’s lives.
Books are one of my daily essentials. A large part of my life is based on reading. My life as a writer was born that way. Some of my decisions have been made thanks to them. They bring me ideas, inspiration, perspectives.
There is a kind of magic in books.
What is your bookflow?