How Theodore Roosevelt Read So Many Books

Few presidents, actually few people, read at the same rate as Theodore Roosevelt. It was said he not only could read a few books a day, but he actually could finish one before breakfast every morning. He is known for reading thousands of books throughout his lifetime, from a wide variety of genres and languages.

Meanwhile, most of us can’t even get through a book a month. Even with all the great improvements in technology, getting through a few books  Reading at all is important to do, but if you want to give your own reading speeds a boost, let’s take a look at how you can possibly speed it up.

One thing to note – he didn’t think we should judge a book by it being the “right” book to read or not. He would consume everything from a ton of genres, which made him able to talk to almost anyone, but he was passionate about people picking books they liked to read.

“If a man or woman is fond of books he or she will naturally seek the books that the mind and soul demand.” – Theodore Roosevelt

You can improve your reading speed and progress, even if you won’t get to the same amount he was reading at any given time.

Make time in your schedule

This sounds ridiculously simple, but is reading in your actual daily schedule? I know that sounds ridiculous, but until you get in the habit of reading every day, you need to schedule it in. Some good time slots are before you go to bed at night (you shouldn’t be looking at your phone or Netflix, anyway), or during your lunch break.

Even if it’s just five minutes, starting the habit is far more important than finishing a ton of books at the start.

Make it accessible

Whether you choose to use ebooks or physical books, you need it around and easy to access. If you have your books hidden far in your closet on the highest shelf, you’re not going to make it an easy habit. Carry your books around or use a Kindle reader (or the Kindle app) and make it right at your fingertips.

Personally, I’m not a fan of using my phone because once I open it up, there are a thousand apps that are more fun than a book.

Just for a fun experiment, look at your phone analytics and see how often you pick up your phone. I’ve seen some stats that show people pick up their phone over 200 times throughout the day. Even if you made a handful of them a book, you’ll be sure to read more.

Use something to navigate your eye

Your eye will skip back to the start of the sentence or the paragraph if you don’t keep it moving forward. Sometimes, you’ll want to reread sentences to fully absorb what the author is saying, but if you’re trying to read faster, you need to navigate your eye to stay on track. You can use your finger or a bookmark to keep your eye focused on the line you’re reading.

Mix up deep reading and quick reads

Some books, like War and Peace, will take forever to get through. Whereas something light like an autobiography, can be much faster. If you’re only reading heavy books, just know you’re going to read slower. It can be good to mix it up to practice your speed skills.

I used to feel bad if I didn’t read every paragraph an author wrote (probably because I intimately understand how hard it is to put words on a page sometimes), but now I don’t feel bad at all for skimming books. This helps me get through so many so much faster. Few books are worth sitting down and absorbing every single line.

Be patient

Sometimes, people will get frustrated with their progress and stop reading altogether. I was reminded of this as I started to get through a huge 400+ page book that’s heavy. It seems so daunting that I haven’t made a single dent in any of my reading for almost two months now. That was the inspiration behind this post – I knew I needed to get back on the horse.

What are your tips for reading more? Have you read anything good recently? Leave a comment below!

Remove the Good to Get the Great

When most people think about removing things from their lives to focus on what’s important, it’s easy to point to the negative influences.

The bad diets, the negative friends, the habits that take you away from where you want to be.

What no one talks about, however, are all the good things you have to give up to get what the great thing.

Sometimes you have to give up good jobs to get great jobs. Good relationships to get great relationships. Good ideas to build great ideas.

I’ve seen this in my own life over the last few months.

There are too many good ideas, possibly good relationships, good work projects, but I’ve realized that if I want great, I have to give up the good.

Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground. – Theodore Roosevelt

This applies also to the physical things I own as well. I own a lot of things that are okay, actually, I own too many things that are just okay, but I want to own things that bring me joy.

I read too many good books when I want to read great books.

(Also, feel free to substitute “great” for whatever word you prefer: tremendous, abundant, titanic, stupendous, phenomenal, perfect. Whatever works for you.)

The thing is, sometimes it’s hard to give up the good.

Removing something negative from your life can be much easier than removing something good, especially if you aren’t sure when the phenomenal thing is going to come.

For the past few months, I’ve been craving less.
Less of everything that’s putting unnecessary pressure on my life, stressing me out, cluttering my space, and draining me in general. There’s just too much cluttering my ability to think and perform at the level I should be.

The thing is, some of these things are good. They are a part of me that I still cling to and think I can bring to life.

Except, I know by getting rid of these things I’m more likely to actually have the time to focus and build the things that matter the most.

It’s hard to let go of things that only bring moderate joy.
It’s hard to let go of almost relationships and decent friendships.
It’s hard to let go of things when you’re still clinging onto old memories.

Let go of the good and you’ll find yourself surrounded by the great.