Note: This is part of a weekend bucket list series I’m doing throughout 2015 that is focused on fun things to do during retirement (i.e. bucket list items). I hope you enjoy them and use them as inspiration for your own adventures. I’m also doing a giveaway in conjunction with the series that you can read more about below.
One of the goals on my bucket list is to read 500 books between ages 40 and 50. Is reading on your bucket list? If not, it should be. Why is regular reading so important? How will you benefit from reading more? How can you make it through dozens of books in the typical year? What have I read so far on my way to 500 books in 10 years? Read on to find out. 🙂
Why You Should Read More
It keeps your mind sharp. Recent studies show that engaging your brain keeps it sharp, improves your vocabulary, improves your memory, helps improve your reasoning ability and might even help delay the symptoms or onset of dementia.
It inspires you to do interesting things. We all want to live full and interesting lives. Reading gives you ideas of things to do and then inspires you to do them. It’s difficult to read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, without being inspired to get up off the couch and plan your own hike. If you read My Life in France by Julia Child, you’ll probably want to sign up for cooking classes or maybe even plan a trip to Paris. Reading is a great way to get ideas and inspiration for your bucket list.
It gives you ideas for self-improvement. Getting Things Done helped me to bring some sanity to my To-Do list. The Power of Habit helped me to understand how I can get rid of bad habits and create good ones. On Writing helped me to improve my writing. Books can help make a better you. As Socrates once said: “Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.”
It’s fun and a low cost form of entertainment. I spend most Saturday mornings on the couch with a cup of coffee and whatever book I happen to be reading. Not only is it enjoyable and relaxing, but it’s cheap entertainment (I get most of what I read from either the library or Amazon).
So in summary, reading gives you a better vocabulary. It makes you smarter and more interesting. It helps keep your mind sharp and improves your memory. It makes you a better conversationalist. It inspires you to do fun and interesting things. It’s great entertainment. That’s not a bad list of benefits.
How to Read More
Life is busy, so if you want to read more, you need to make it a priority. That said, here are a few tricks that helped me read more than 50 books last year.
Listen to audio books. I drive about 25 minutes to work every day (and 25 minutes home) and spend additional time driving to and from appointments. On average, I probably spend about 90 minutes in the car each day. Rather than listening to the radio, I listen to books. My local library has an App that allows me to download audio books for free, so I always have something to listen to. A little less than half of my reading list last year was audio books.
Speed-reading. I used to be a painfully slow reader, so a while back I did a learning challenge on speed-reading. Read through the article for ways to test and improve your reading speed.
Always take your book with you. I got this tip from Stephen King in his book On Writing. Everywhere I go I either have a book or my iPod with me. You’d be amazed at how much time you spend in waiting rooms, in line or otherwise standing around doing nothing. Take your book along and make use of the time.
Read stuff that you enjoy. If you want to read War and Peace, more power to you, but don’t feel pressure to read things just because they’re classics. Read what you enjoy. If you look through my list below you’ll see Steinbeck and Dickens, but you’ll also see about a half-dozen Jack Reacher novels, which are the literary equivalent of junk food. Who cares? I like them. I took a detective fiction class in college and since then I’ve always appreciated the genre. Read what you enjoy and you’ll read more.
Bucket List Books: What I’ve Read the Last Two Years
Below is a list of what I read during the first 2 years of my 10-year goal. I put Amazon links to each book in case you’d like to learn more about a particular book and possibly add it to your own reading list.
2013 (Age 40)
- Wool, Hugh Howey
- Do The Work, Steven Pressfield
- The Art of Non-Conformity, Chris Guillebeau
- Boomerang, Michael Lewis
- Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity, David Allen
- Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before, Tony Horwitz
- The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
- The Big Short, Michael Lewis
- The Glass Castle: A Memoir, Jeannette Walls
- My Life in France, Julia Child
- A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
- The Four Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferriss
- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King
- Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls, David Sedaris
- The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern, Victor David Hansen
- World War Z, Max Brooks
- Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, Piers Paul Read
- Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, Michael Pollan
- Grand Ambition, G. Bruce Knecht
- Child of God, Cormack McCarthy
- Everyman, Phillip Roth
- Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Anthony Bordain
- Tuesdays With Morrie: An Old Man, A Young Man and Life’s Greatest Lesson, Mitch Albom
- No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Missions That Killed Osama Bin Laden, Mark Owen
2014 (Age 41)
- Jack London: An American Life, Earle Labor
- The Graveyard Book, Niel Gaiman
- Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, Rolf Potts
- The Call of the Wild, Jack London
- Walden, Henry David Thoreau
- Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War, Nathaniel Philbrick
- The Sea Wolf, Jack London
- Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
- Open: An Autobiography, Andre Agassi
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, F. Scott Fitzgerald
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
- My First Summer in the Sierra, John Muir
- Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
- East of Eden, John Steinbeck
- The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
- Start Something that Matters, Blake Mycoskie
- David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
- Einstein: His Life and Universe, Walter Isaacson
- Roughing It, Mark Twain
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, James Thurber
- The Martian, Andy Weir
- Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman
- Escape From Davao: The Forgotten Story of the Most Daring Prison Break of the Pacific War, John Lukacs
- White Fang, Jack London
- Moby Dick, Herman Melville
- Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, Walter Isaacson
- John Barleycorn, Jack London
- A Game of Thrones, George R. R. Martin
- Travels With Charley: In Search of America, John Steinbeck
- The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World, Stephen Mansfield
- The House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer
- A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering American on the Appalachian Trail, Bill Bryson
- Moneyball, Michael Lewis
- A Clash of Kings, George R. R. Martin
- Wooden On Leadership, John Wooden
- The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life, Chris Guillebeau
- The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, Joel Dicker
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lax, Rebecca Skloot
- The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin
- 61 Hours, Lee Child
- 12 Years A Slave, Solomon Northup
- Worth Dying For, Lee Child
- A Wanted Man, Lee Child
- Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl
- Never Go Back, Lee Child
- The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
- River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, Candice Millard
- We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance, David Howarth
- A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking
- The Shawshank Redemption, Stephen King
- Lawerence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle Ease, Scott Anderson
- Sailing Alone Around the World, Joshua Slocum
- One Man’s Wilderness: An Alaska Odyssey, Sam Keith and Richard Proenneke
Giveaway: One of my favorite books last year was Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum. In the 1890s, he became the first person to sail alone around the world and then he wrote a book about it. He’s actually a really good writer, so in addition to being a great adventure tale, it’s a story well told. This week’s giveaway winner is a subscriber from our email updates list (congrats Karl!) so I’m sending him a copy of the book. Tune into future posts for more giveaways.
Note: Since I have my own books for sale on Amazon, I am a part of their Amazon Affiliate program. The links above are affiliate links, which simply means that if you buy a book after clicking one of the links, Amazon (at no additional cost to you) will pay me a small commission that I use to help cover the costs of this site. That’s not why I recommend the books, of course, but I wanted to be sure to make you aware of it.