In an essay written in 1946, Books v. Cigarettes, George Orwell recounts a story of why people from poor backgrounds didn’t read as many books as those of more privileged stock.
During a discussion between a friend of Orwell’s and two factory workers, while they were fire-watching during the Second World War, the two men said they had no interest in literature because it was too expensive.
Orwell went on to compare the price of books with cigarettes and discovered that his smoking habit cost him more money than his reading habit. He reasoned that if he cut back his expenditure on tobacco and alcohol this would free up more than enough money to buy books.
Today, the same arguments still rage, but with higher wages and inexpensive books, it’s hard for anyone to say they can’t afford to read. Instead, the discussion has shifted elsewhere. Whether we have enough time to read.
The main argument is that most of us are too busy to read. That there just isn’t enough time in the day to develop a reading habit. I’ve never subscribed to this line of thinking and with the abundance of free time we all now have thanks to Coronavirus, we have more time than ever to read.
We each have 24 hours in the day, but not all of us spend those hours in the same way. Instead, of decrying that you don’t have enough time, you should ask yourself how much of that time is dead time and could be better spent.
Reading 100 pages each day seems like a lot, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. Much like riding a bike, it’s just a matter of learning how.
How to read 100 pages a day
Time to Read
24 hours. That’s how much time we all have, each day. Some of us use it well, some of us don’t. How well you use your allotted time is a big aspect in determining your quality of life.
A common complaint is that we just don’t have enough time to do all the things that we’d like to. I’m not so sure that’s the case. Let’s breakdown those 24 hours and take a closer look.
Sleeping roughly equates to 8 hours a day for most of us. This is something we can reduce, but shouldn’t for health reasons. Thus. our 24 hours shrink to 16. Most jobs, certainly ones in an office operate on a 9 to 5, or 8 hour day. That brings our free time down to 8 hours.
That’s 8 hours, every day, that you can use, however you wish. Whatever way you look at it, that’s a lot of time! I know that some of this time will be spent doing activities that contribute to the other two, such as driving to and from work, preparing meals and cleaning up before bed.
Even if we account for these activities, that should still leave approximately 5 or 6 hours of free time. Much like Orwell realised he was spending more on cigarettes than on books, this simple breakdown reveals that we have more time than we think we do.
The issue then becomes one not of time itself, but how we utilise that time. If reading more books is your aim, then you’ll want to devote more of your time to reading.
It’s not a question of finding the time, we all have the same amount of time, it’s a question of allocating that time to further your goals.
Page by Page
Reading 100 pages a day sounds daunting. I’m going to be blunt, it is. I say that as someone that reads a lot of books. I’ve read close to 50 books already this year, which I couldn’t have done without reading a lot each day.
Granted, it’s easier to do this when you’re self-employed, but even when I was working full-time, I was still reading between 50 to 100 pages a day.
My advice is not to dive in headfirst and try to read 100 pages straight away. You can try it if you want, but you may struggle to reach the target and become demoralised. Instead, aim to read 20 pages in one sitting and then pick up your book again throughout the day.
You’ll find that breaking your reading up into chunks makes it easier for you to read more. I struggle to read page after page sometimes. Adopting this method is a smarter way to read more books and one that won’t cause you to burn out just as you’re getting started.
Reflect on Your Activities
I have a terrible tendency to procrastinate. If I end up on YouTube and watch one video it can quickly spiral into ten. Before I realise it, an hour has gone by all because I was sucked down the rabbit hole due to YouTube’s algorithm.
I like to listen to music when I work. For some reason, it helps me to focus and work better. Silence doesn’t cut it for me. I used to use Youtube to play music, but I realised this was affecting my flow because I would flick back and forth from my work, changing the song all the time.
This wasted time and stopped me from doing my work. Now, I just stick a playlist on Spotify or listen to a podcast while I work. Throughout our day, we all have things that suck up our time.
If you want to read more, you need to be aware of what these things are and eliminate them. That hour spent watching YouTube could be spent reading that book collecting dust on your shelf.
Ryan Holiday is a voracious reader. The guy must read five books a month minimum. One of the reasons he reads so much is because he’s a binge reader. The main reason, however, is because whenever he has some free time, he reads.
Stuck at home, with nothing to do? Pick up a book. Waiting at the airport for your flight? Sneak a few pages in. Nothing on Netflix? Read a good book instead. It’s not external issues that stop us from reading more, most of the time, it’s us.
Take a few minutes to reflect on what you do during the day. I’m sure you’ll find at least an hour or two that can be repurposed as reading time. Finding a small amount of time such as this can go a long way to bumping up the volume of pages you can get through in a day.
Reading 100 pages a day sounds like a difficult challenge. A challenge akin to climbing Everest. But it doesn’t need to be. If you love reading, if you’re already reading 20 to 50 pages a day, scaling up to 100 isn’t as hard as you think.
As Orwell stated in his essay, it wasn’t that the books were expensive, as the poor workers thought, instead it was their perspective that was the issue.
The same is true of reading. We think we’re busy, that we don’t have enough time to read, but we do. We have more time than we think, we just don’t use it very well.
Want to know how to read 100 pages a day? Simple. Pick up a book and get reading!