How to Read Many More Books in a Year: Watch a Short Documentary Featuring Some of the World’s Most Beautiful Bookstores

You don’t have enough time in life to read all the books you want to. But if you change your habits just a bit, you’ll be able to read many more books in the time you do have left than you oth­er­wise could have. Film­mak­er Max Joseph learns these and oth­er lessons about read­ing in this short doc­u­men­tary, Book­store: How to Read More. In it he trav­els in search of not just the advice of some of the world’s most expert read­ers (or at least some of the most expert read­ers in Amer­i­ca), but also in search of the expe­ri­ence of the most beau­ti­ful book­stores in the world (or at least in west­ern Europe and South Amer­i­ca).

Wait But Why blog­ger Tim Urban tells Joseph he would need to read for only half an hour per day to have read more than a thou­sand books by the end of his time on Earth, ver­sus the sin­gle shelf he might read through with his cur­rent habits.

Eric Bark­er of Bark­ing Up the Wrong Tree sug­gests that Joseph redi­rect his social media-view­ing instincts toward whichev­er book he feels most excit­ed about read­ing in the moment, and that he begin by set­ting his dai­ly read­ing goal so low at first — say, just one page — that it’s prac­ti­cal­ly eas­i­er to meet it than not. (To quote from Moby-Dick, “What can­not habit accom­plish?”) Then Howard Berg, who holds the Guin­ness World Record declar­ing him the fastest read­er alive, breaks down the tech­niques that can the­o­ret­i­cal­ly make each page go by in sec­onds.

But how fast do we real­ly want to read? For coun­sel on the what and the why, Joseph vis­its the office of Ruth J. Sim­mons, pres­i­dent of Prairie View A&M Uni­ver­si­ty and for­mer pres­i­dent of Brown Uni­ver­si­ty. She empha­sizes the impor­tance of read­ing not just fre­quent­ly but wide­ly, a con­di­tion that should­n’t be ter­ri­bly hard to ful­fill giv­en Joseph’s trav­el and shop­ping habits: in the video we see him vis­it a vari­ety of high­ly Insta­gram­ma­ble (and drone-filmable) book­stores every­where from Brus­sels and Maas­tricht to São Paulo and Buenos Aires. One of them, Lis­bon’s Ler Deva­gar, tells him to “read slow­ly” with its very name, echo­ing Sim­mons’ descrip­tion of read­ing as “forced med­i­ta­tion.” That fram­ing is apt, but just like vis­it­ing a new book­store, med­i­ta­tion makes the true bib­lio­phile think of only one thing first: all the vol­umes out there still to be read.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

7 Tips for Read­ing More Books in a Year

The Last Book­store: A Short Doc­u­men­tary on Per­se­ver­ance & the Love of Books

A Secret Book­store in a New York City Apart­ment: The Last of a Dying Breed

What Are the Most Stolen Books? Book­store Lists Fea­ture Works by Muraka­mi, Bukows­ki, Bur­roughs, Von­negut, Ker­ouac & Palah­niuk

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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  • Laurence Hunt says:

    I real­ly need sub­ti­tles on this kind of video. The sound qual­i­ty is mar­gin­al and I can’t real­ly make out what the nar­ra­tor is say­ing.

  • John J Cobb says:

    This is one of the most beau­ti­ful pod­casts I have ever seen!

    Did I men­tion that it is one of the most infor­ma­tive pod­casts I have ever seen?

    Not to be missed, for sure!

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