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Setting Yourself Up for Reading Success

By Perry Holley | December 28, 2022
Setting Yourself Up for Reading Success

There is no end to the list of excuses we can make for why we don’t read more. Almost everyone agrees that reading is better for your personal development than not reading, yet it is a struggle for many of us to make that time every day to invest in our future and our success.

Consider the following plan to move away from good intentions to read and instead become intentional about reading.

The book you don’t read won’t help.

Jim Rohn


When legendary football coach Vince Lombardi became coach of the Green Bay Packers, the Packers were not in a good place. A reporter asked Lombardi about his plan to turn the team around and get back to winning. The coach didn’t talk about making a lot of changes in the players or the coaches. He didn’t roll out some new offensive scheme that would baffle their opponents. Instead, Coach Lombardi said, “I am not going to change anything. We will use the same players, the same plays, and the same training system. But we will concentrate on becoming brilliant on the basics. Before I am finished, we will be the best team in the National Football League in kicking, passing, blocking, running, and catching. We will run our plays with such precision that the other side will know what we are going to do but will be unable to stop us. We will be brilliant on the basics.”


Step 1: Decide on areas of interest and where you would like to grow your skills and knowledge. This could be in the area of your work, or the area of your interests outside of work. I like leadership, personal development, and personal productivity, but you should choose your own.

Step 2: Develop multiple ways to get books. Here are three ways:

  • Audiobooks: Audiobooks allow me to turn previously idle time into reading time. Driving, walking, or working in the yard on a Saturday morning are great opportunities to consume books. The upside: ease of access and putting time often wasted to good use. The downside: it’s difficult to take notes and easy to be distracted. You can try an audiobook from Audible for free.
  • eReaders: I use the Kindle reader and app from Amazon. Amazon also owns the Audible audiobook service. Owning both audio and eBook services is nice because the audiobook and the Kindle eBook sync when you switch between the two. The Kindle eReader app on my phone, iPad, and laptop puts every book I ever bought at my fingertips. The WhisperSync technology from Amazon keeps all these devices synchronized.  
  • Physical books: I’m doing this less and less, but from time to time I buy a physical book for my library, either from an online retailer like Amazon or a local used bookstore. If you can find a local used bookstore, it will allow you to acquire quality books for pennies on the dollar.


You might worry about the cost of buying books in the various formats, but as Jim Rohn liked to say, “Miss a meal if you have to, but don’t miss a book.” Here is a way I keep the costs down:

  • On Amazon, sign up for the Kindle Daily Deal email. This daily email shows you eBooks that are on sale for less than $3.
  • Go to BookBub and sign up for free to have a daily email sent with eBooks that are less than $2.99. You tell them the categories of books you would be interested in, and the daily email will only include those categories. I get 10-15 books per year from BookBub for under $2 each.
  • Buy an annual subscription plan on Audible has several annual plans that drop the cost of a book to less than $10 per book. 
  • Your local library. Yes, I have a library card. My library offers audio and physical books. It’s free!

The ROI (return on investment) of the dollars I spend on books is enormous. Don’t limit your growth and think you are saving money. You have no idea what it costs you long-term, but it’s much more than the book cost.


What good is doing all that reading if you don’t capture what you are learning? This is where being intentional pays off. Get yourself a free subscription to Evernote. This tool is a cloud-based app that is a filing cabinet for your life. I have it on my phone, my iPad, and my laptop. Every time you enter a note, it syncs to every device. You could also use OneNote or another cloud note-taking app.

  • Audio book notes: I may not be able to write a note, so I use the voice recorder on my phone to capture any interesting ideas. I capture the book notes in my Evernote app when I am back at my desk.
  • Kindle book notes: When you use your finger to highlight text on the screen, those highlights are automatically captured in the cloud by Amazon. You have a webpage on Amazon with your highlights. Because I like having all my notes in one place, I will copy my notes from my Amazon notes page and paste them into Evernote. Doing this makes them searchable.
  • Physical book notes: I always have a yellow highlighter and a notepad handy. Highlighting or taking notes on paper means I need to get these highlights from the book into Evernote. Doing this requires additional effort and pushes me toward the Kindle app, where this is all done automatically. A good friend told me that one of her children was looking for a job to make extra money. I offered him $15/book to type all my yellow highlights into a Microsoft Word document and email the document to me. I then placed that document into Evernote. Win/win!

Bonus idea: After doing what I have outlined above for the last 10+ years, where I have read between 50-60 books per year, I have amassed quite a database of notes and highlights. It isn’t easy to keep up with all the great things I have highlighted over the years—Readwise to the rescue. Readwise is a website/app that syncs with all your eReader notes and highlights and serves up five highlights per day to help you remember all the things you noted over time. I have genuinely enjoyed this service. You can try it for free, but there is a subscription fee if you decide it adds value to your life.


With all this in place, you are now set up for a successful reading routine. I believe in having a scheduled time to read every day, but with this plan, you can read anywhere and anytime you find yourself with a few free minutes. You will be amazed at the number of opportunities you have during the day to pull out a book, in whatever format you are using, and capture what would otherwise be wasted time.

About Perry Holley

Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with Maxwell Leadership, as well as a published author. As co-host of the Maxwell Leadership Executive Leadership Podcast, he has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.

Looking to add to your leadership development library?

John Maxwell has been one of the world’s foremost personal growth and leadership experts for more than 40 years. His catalog of leadership literature has listed him on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week bestseller lists. As you add reading to your daily routine, start your growth with some of Dr. Maxwell’s most impactful works, including Today Matters, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, and The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

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