083: How to Build Better Reading Habits and Finish a Book Every Day [Podcast]

The average adult reads less than one book a year. If “leaders are readers” holds true, you’d be four steps ahead if you read just one book each month. Imagine what your life would look like if you read one book every day.

How to Read Better and Finish a Book Every Day

Reading a book a day sounds crazy, but not only is it possible, it’s one of my personal goals. Right now, I’m trending at 3–4 books a week. And that’s on top of running a business and having a life outside of work.

How can someone read a book a day without neglecting their work or family? The secret lies in broadening your definition of “read” and embracing multiple formats.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Andy and I talk about how we can get more out of the books we read while reading more books in the process. Listen in as we discuss the hidden power of books and why you should consider them an wise investment instead of an expense.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email, please click here).

Maximize reading in the margins

Reading a book every day seems ridiculous at first. How are you supposed to get anything else done? The trick is to take advantage of the margins.

While reading a given book, I typically use multiple formats. I check it out from the library, listen to it on Audible, and grab the Kindle version. If the book is really good, I end up buying the hardcover.

Having a book available in multiple formats allows you to take advantage of more reading opportunities. Here are just a few examples:

  • Driving to work
  • Standing in line for coffee
  • Walking the dog
  • Lying in bed before falling asleep
  • Washing the dishes

In fact, every time you open Facebook or browse Netflix because you’re bored or need a distraction, is an opportunity to read.

Speaking of passive entertainment, did you know the average monthly cable bill is $125? That’s $1,500 a year. We rarely think twice about that much money leaving our bank account, and yet we balk at the idea of spending $20 on a book.

Stop and consider the ROI of one book vs binge watching another season of your favorite show. Which one delivers a bigger bang for your hard-earned buck?

Maybe reading one book every day isn’t realistic for you. Start small and recapture a few moments each day for reading. You’ll be amazed at what is out there to discover.

Show highlights

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The wrong way to read a book
  • Why quantity is a path to quality
  • An unspoken reading rule you need to ignore
  • Which formats to explore reading
  • When to read fiction vs. non-fiction
  • The role of fiction in the life of all creatives entrepreneurs
  • Understanding the importance of storytelling
  • What you can learn about good (and bad) writing


  • There’s no cheaper education than a book.
  • Books are a fountain of ideas and stories for writers.
  • Stories stand the test of time. Stories supersede everything else.
  • Stop thinking of fiction and non-fiction as opposing ideas, and instead consider what it takes to be a great writer.


What are your reading habits? How do you get the most out of what you read? What is your fiction to non-fiction reading mix? Share in the comments

15 thoughts on “083: How to Build Better Reading Habits and Finish a Book Every Day [Podcast]

  1. I read 1-2 books a week and I can still find plenty of time to read blogs, stay on top of my email, exercise daily and watch my favorite show. It’s definitely how you use your margins of time. I *always* carry a book in my purse, because you never know when you’ll have to wait. That has served me well many times.

  2. This was a challenge to me. I used to read a lot when I was younger but now I’ve been so busy because life. But lately, I do a lot of e-book reading for those intermittent times I am idle. I guess I will consider audio books then.

    Then, there’s my speed. I’m now kind of slower in my reading, especially when it’s a really good book. This is because I like to take in and notice the writer’s style as a writer. I’m not sure if this is a good thing though. It slows down my reading.


    1. Same problem I have with reading books. I slow down to absorb everything – unconsciously. And even sometimes reread the same thing over and over maybe because I liked what I read or something. Same way I rewind podcasts.

      I also sometimes like to write out stuff when reading a really good book (you’d almost never catch me reading fiction!)

  3. Great episode. Packed with practical suggestions. Thanks. Jeff, you mentioned that there are 2-3 books that you’ve re-read this year. I’m curious about which ones they are. Will you do a blog post on your top books for 2015?

  4. A few years back, when sitting before an interviewing panel I was asked: “When was the last time you read a book?” And since that time, it’s been my favorite most question.
    Every so often, I realize there’s nothing like reading books, and have gradually come to believe that the ability to reflect or think deeper, and decide better when faced with dilemmas in life is massively dependent on whether or not reading books is part of our lifestyle. It really impacts our lifestyle and makes us different in a crowd by helping us stay constantly in contact with lofty thoughts, feelings and ideas. Studies have shown that just like any other muscle in the body, our brain also requires drill/exercise to keep it positive, strong and healthy. Though games such as chess and puzzles also help provide cognitive stimulation, yet reading is matchless.
    Someone said: the phrase “use it or lose it” is particularly apt when it comes to your mind.”
    By the by, our daily reading habits must not center around tweets and Facebook updates. Even the inventor of Microsoft, Bill Gates, doesn’t look upon internet surfing as reading. So, he too reads every day from a hard cover book. I’ve also decided that onward I’ll be investing time in reading books rather than feeding my brains on Facebook updates. Someone said: “Time is precious. So, waste it wisely.” 🙂

  5. Thank You for all the help you give.. I like to listen to audio-books when driving or at the gym. For folks like me, this is the only way that you will ever read a book. I was the type to never read unless I was forced to. Now I feel such a hunger to learn more and more. Hooray for audio-books, for those of us who can’t read the actual book.

  6. I’d be absolutely lost without a book (or two, or three…) with me at any given time. Books are my comfort items, my adult security blanket if you will. Since 1993, I have kept a running tally of the books I read. In a good month, I get 6-7. In slower months, maybe only 2-3. That tally is now 1889.

    I read every spare moment I can snag. When the Kindle first came out I was ecstatic. I could carry an entire library with me everywhere! And I’d always wanted a Star Trek datapadd ?. I’ve recently started using audible. I’ve been leery of audio books for a long time, but I’m slowly coming around.

  7. Whenever I read these days (and I read a lot of non-fiction books, only very few fiction books), I spent way too much time – highlighting, taking notes, and filing useful anecdotes, quotes and inspiration from what I read and instead of being able to even reach my goal of a book a month, sometimes I find I couldn’t even finish a book until three months. This is especially when the book is too good and has too many useful contents.

    Anyone with similar reading habits? What do you do? Jeff, how did you even remember whatever you have read if you read so many books in a week? Like which book, which page, which author, etc? Do you file useful stuff from books you read?

    1. Hello there,
      I just read your post and it rings a bell. I too had the same habit. I realised that, in fact, it was due to my obsession with perfectionism. I had to remember everything I read otherwise I felt that my reading was a waste of time. But this was just taking on my nerves and only harming my reading habit. So I divided reading into two types.

      1. Reading for pleasure
      2. Reading for learning

      Now, reading for pleasure is also learning. I would take a book and just read. While I read, I had no anxiety of how much I would remember. I just let myself get carried away with imaginations. As I repeatedly kept doing this, my neural connections got strengthened and I could later recollect many facts even from non fiction books.

      I just suggest one thing in the end. Enjoy reading. Hope it helps 🙂

      P.S. I have read somewhere that it’s a good thing to take time to reflect on what we have read. That actually builds our brains rather than just reading on and on. And once in a while, when you get hold of a very good book, it’s good to indulge in it 🙂

      Abialbon Paul

    2. Hi Suwandy. I find I gave the same issue you mentioned. I am reading predominantly non-fiction, because I am looking for books that help me to improve myself.
      I also spend a lot of time writing notes and quotes I find valuable, so as much as I aspire to read 50-100 books per year, I’m lucky ro get through 1per month due to my note taking.
      It may not be at the speed I want, but I am getting more from it.
      Besides, nothing happens in my life at the speed I want. God dictates that. I always feel frustrated at what seems to me to be my slow pace, but His timing is always perfect.
      Also, I tried an audio of one of Brene Brown’s books, but had to repeatedly listen to each cd to get my notes. It took longer than just reading the book. Plus, sometimes with audio, the author or reader’s voice might be the type that is annoying to you, so that makes it harder to listen ton and harder to receive from.
      But, be happy. At least we are reading and growing. Many people are not. Stay encouraged.


  8. Hi Jeff, Just wanted to say that I’m loving your podcast right now! I can’t wait to try your technique for reading books quickly, I never would have thought of it! Also, I have to say I have learned something from watching TV, Spanish, and now I do work as an interpreter. I can say however, that I’ve never learned anything valuable from watching Real Housewives.

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