booksWill Smith’s acceptance speech at the 2009 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards lives in my head rent free. He’s just won favourite movie actor for Hancock. As he clutches his orange blimp trophy, he gives the keys to life: reading and running. His take on reading:

There have been billions of people who have lived before us, so there’s no new problem that you could have in your life. Whether it be with your parents, school with a bully, with anything. There’s no problem you can have that someone hasn’t already solved and written into a book.

Growing up I read a lot. However, social pressure, boring books at school and my inability to connect with the literature I read erroded my desire to read. Every year, for the last few years I attempt to read 12 books (including audio books) - one book per month and every year I fail. As of July 2021, I’ve just managed to finish my first book: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

I came across a video by Mark Mason on how to be a better reader and it’s been really helpful. Some tips to read more in 2021:

Stop reading in your classroom voice

At school, we had to stand up and read to the class, no matter how good or bad you were. Most of the time I calculated what I needed to read and rehearsed until it was my time to stand up. When I read books, the reading voice in my head would do this exact same thing - read word for word and over annunciate my words. No one is around to laugh at the way I’m reading so If you’re getting back into reading - cut the inner monologue out.

Read with your finger

Our eyes get distracted when reading and when I started out, it was easy to absentmindedly glaze at my phone, to briefly unlock it, and then proceed to watch a bunch of tik toks. If you don’t use your finger to guide what you’re reading, you can lose what line you’re on, read something twice, or insert words from other lines and lose your momentum.

Pro tip: If you’re reading with a kindle that has a touchscreen, disable the touch screen in the settings so you’re able to touch the screen without awkwardly skipping pages.

Stop reading things you don’t like and don’t feel guilty.

This might seem obvious advice but I gorwing up, I always had the fear that I was a failure or illiterate unless I finished a book - even if the book sucked. In school, a book about an English family living in the woodlands had no connection to who I was as a Samoan yet I’d have to finish it to get a passing mark at high school. If I can skip a netflix series, quit a YouTube video or stop reading articles on the internet with no guilt - the same guilt free experience should apply when it comes to reading. Mark Mason put it best:

The point of reading is for the book to serve you, not for you to serve the book. If a book sucks, don’t hesitate to get rid of it.

Having learnt the ‘formula’ of how Non-fiction books are published, it’s essentially some core points that need to be conveyed and then the rest are anecdotes and stories to build credibility and a positive impression of the author. If you’ve read a chapter and the next chapter feels exactly the same, head back to the table of contents and read the chapters that are interesting.

Pro Tip from: Read 10% of the book before deciding to keep going or to get rid of it.

Schedule Your Reading Time

Everyone always complains that they have no time. Reading is the easiest thing you can do. You literally look at a bunch of ink on a screen or paper and your brain will do the rest. There are micro 25-30 minute slots in your day that you can find to read. When you wake up or before you go to sleep, after a zoom meeting, during lunch. When you combine that with unplanned time (bathroom breaks or during a commute), you’re able to get through books with ease.

Given the average person can read a page in about two minutes, 60 minutes of reading represents 30 pages a day. Which is 10 days per book, or 37 books per year. Now if you stop reading in your classroom voice, use your finger and skip books you don’t like - you’ll end up reading many more.

Read More Than One Book At A Time

Going back to the fear of ‘‘you’re illiterate if you don’t finish a book’’, reading multiple books has been a challenge for me. However switching books quickly has helped to keep refreshed on the task of reading and maintaining my attention. The cool part about reading multiple books is that you can break it up into any way you want. The three books that I currently have on the go are Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (because it’s an easy read), The Challenger Sale (so I can improve on my sales skills), What The Heck Is Self-Love Anyway? (so I can improve myself)

As I build more consistency with reading, I’ll look to read more nutrition and mental toughness books. It’ll tie quite nicely into some of the work I’m getting started with around productivity which I’ll look to share through blog soon.


According to Will Smith, one of the keys to life is reading. According to Mark Mason, we can increase our reading speed if we do two things, cut the inner monologue and use our fingers to follow the words on a page. We can increase the number of books we read by not feeling guilty if we decide not to continue with a book, if we can schedule time to read as well as read multiple books at the same time.

Below is the video from Will Smith. Anything else I can help with, let me know!