To Read More Books, Practice “The Bill Gates Effect”

Matt Lillywhite

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I’ve reached a point in my life where I enjoy nothing more than sitting down and reading a good book for several hours. But I wasn’t always like this. More often than not, I struggled to find the time, energy, and motivation to sit down on the sofa and read the first page.

So how did I become an avid reader in a short amount of time? The answer is adopting the habits of passionate readers, such as Bill Gates, and then implementing them into my own life.

So below are several strategies that will help you to read a lot more frequently. Each of these insights changed my life for the better, and I’m confident they will do the same for you, too.

Choose Your Format.

There’s a lot of ways to read new books. You can download one to your Kindle, listen on Audible, or get a physical copy from your local library. It doesn’t matter how you read. You just need to find a format that works best for you, and then find ways to integrate it into your daily life.

I like to go for a walk in the afternoon. So each day, I’ll enjoy listening to an audiobook as I walk around my local area for several hours. After all, it’s a great way to get some exercise and learn something new.

Find time in your schedule to read more books. For example, you could read for half an hour in the evenings by watching one less episode of your favorite TV show.

When you find a reading style that you enjoy, you’re much more likely to maintain a daily habit and read more books.

Make Notes In The Margins.

This is a strategy that’s changed my life forever. Why? Because it’s helped me to understand and apply the knowledge & lessons from each book in an efficient way. Quoting Bill Gates:

“Particularly if it’s a nonfiction book, are you taking in new knowledge and sort of attaching it to the knowledge you have? For me, taking notes helps make sure that I’m really thinking hard about what’s in there.”

In all of my books, I use the margins to think about any ideas that are raised. For example, in Ryan Holiday’s book, The Obstacle Is The Way, I’ve written detailed notes in the margins on how to apply Stoicism to my life.

Whenever you read a book, think about the thoughts & ideas that the author is trying to convey. How do they inspire you? What lessons can you learn from the book that can be applied to your daily life?

Finish What You Start.

When you’re genuinely passionate about a specific book or author, it’s much easier to read every book to the end. And of course, finishing a book means that you’re less likely to be left with gaps in your knowledge about the topic.

“You don’t really start getting old until you stop learning. Every book teaches me something new or helps me see things differently.” — Bill Gates

Do your best to understand everything you read. Read each book until the end, and enjoy reading something that improves your knowledge about a specific subject or inspires you to think differently.

Sure, some books might be more enjoyable than others. But when you make an effort to finish what you start, you’ll learn about new topics at a pace that’s much quicker than you ever thought possible.

Understand The Context.

I like to think of knowledge as a jigsaw puzzle. When you combine a variety of thoughts and ideas, it can help you to understand a specific subject on a much deeper level. Like Bill Gates once said:

“Incremental knowledge is so much easier to maintain in a rich way. At first, it is very daunting, but then as you get the kind of scope, then all these pieces fit in.”

One of my favorite books is Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. So during my spare time, I’ll often watch documentaries and read books about the Roman empire to gain a greater understanding of its context.

You can do the same. Research the background and history behind a book you enjoy, so you can understand its context in much greater detail. For example, if you love fiction books about war, gaining a more in-depth understanding of WW2 and other historical events is undoubtedly a great place to start.

Applying these strategies from Bill Gates is something you can easily do today. Start by making notes, understanding the context, and finding a reading format that works for you.

And if you can do all of that every day, you’ll quickly find yourself reading a lot more books than you ever thought possible. So what are you waiting for?

Start now.

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