There's no secret to how to get smarter. You read. A lot.
Really, that's it.
And if you don't believe me, there's a whole host of luminaries, from Warren Buffett and Bill Gates to Richard Branson and Barack Obama, who will tell you the same thing.
But if building your brainpower is that straightforward, why don't more people do it? For the same reason that we fail to do lots of worthy but less urgent self-improvement projects--we're all really busy.
But are we really? A new article by Charles Chu of site Better Humans raises an eyebrow of skepticism at people who claim they simply don't have enough time to feed their intellect with books. And he has math on his side.
The simple math that proves you do have enough time to read
Chu tells the story of how reading 200 hundred books a year (yes, 200!) for the past several years has helped him turn his life around, reconsider his career, and become much happier. It's a fascinating tale. But Chu also anticipates the objections. That's great for you, some might say, but my life is chaos.
Nope, counters Chu. If you're anything like the average American, you actually have plenty of time to read just as much as he did. All you have to do is make one little substitution in your life. He starts with how much time you need:
"First, let's take a look at two statistics:
The average American reads 200 to 400 words per minute
Typical nonfiction books have about 50,000 words
Now, all we need are some quick calculations:
200 books x 50,000 words/book = 10 million words
10 million words/400 wpm = 25,000 minutes
25,000 minutes/60 = 417 hours
That's all there is to it. To read 200 books, simply spend 417 hours a year reading."
Before you object and say that there's no way you have 417 hours a year to spare, Chu points out a few uncomfortable facts:
"Here's how much time a single American spends on social media and TV in a year:
608 hours on social media
1,642 hours on TV
If those hours were spent reading instead, you could be reading more than 1,000 books a year.
Here's the simple truth behind reading a lot of books: It's not that hard. We have all the time we need."
He's not the only one pointing out that the only reason many of us don't have time for books is because we're addicted to screens (time that we often fine wildly unfulfilling). Design for Hackers author David Kadavy has also noted that if you simply pick up a book every time you get that itch to mindlessly browse your feeds, you'll hit your reading target in no time.