Picture of the book Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman

Reading Takes Time

How do you read more books? The answer isn’t a speed reading course or playing Audible at 2X the speed – you have to invest more time in reading. Everyone’s hunting for the secret formula to consuming large quantities of books, but what they’re not willing to do is spend four to five hours a day reading and studying. They want to mentally download hundreds of titles in ten minutes.

In Oliver Burkeman’s wonderful work, Four Thousands Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, he points out that “It’s not so much that we’re too busy, or too distractible, but that we’re unwilling to accept the truth that reading is the sort of activity that largely operates according to its own schedule. You can’t hurry it very much before the experience begins to lose its meaning; it refuses to consent, you might say, to our desire to exert control over how our time unfolds. In other words, and in common with far more aspects of reality than we’re comfortable acknowledging, reading something properly just takes the time it takes” (165).

If you want to read more books, you’re going to have to make time for it. Yes, I read Burkeman’s book in two days, but it took me ten hours to do so. And that’s just the first round of reading. I have several more hours that will go into creating the notes for it. But when I’m done, I’ll have integrated it into my life, something I’m happy to do since Burkeman’s message is so valuable to me. I set out this weekend with one goal, to read that book well. It took all of my free time and I don’t regret it.

That’s what it takes. If you want to read more books, you have to part the Red Sea in your schedule. There are no hacks, tools, or secret widgets to get this done faster. Reading is an act of patience, and to do it well simply takes the time it takes.

Until tomorrow, read slowly – take notes – apply the ideas.



Works Cited:

Burkeman, Oliver. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. First paperback edition, Picador, 2023.

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