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  • Bookstores drive me crazy.

  • I'm not talking about libraries, or used bookstores, or art bookstores, or museum bookstores.

  • I'm talking about book stores that sell new books.

  • Crisp, unworn, unwrinkled books.

  • Books with no past. No stains.

  • No previous owners.

  • But why? Why do they drive me so crazy?

  • Well, I think it has something to do with the cover art or the colorful and coordinated patterns of their spines.

  • Bookstores are basically like art galleries with stories attached.

  • Another thing that blows my mind about bookstores is how powerful the merchandise is.

  • This book started a war, this book invoked a fatwa,

  • this book was passed down orally for hundreds of years and here they all sit before you and I barely read any of them. and

  • This is really what drives me insane.

  • There's so many books, but not enough time. Between Netflix, podcasts,

  • Social media, binge worthy cable shows, The New Yorker, and the 24-hour news cycle.

  • How the fuck am I supposed to find time to pick up a book?

  • I guess if I had to describe this feeling it would be like the reading version of FOMO.

  • Which is just exacerbated by the staff picks section or those little award stickers.

  • I can never leave the bookstore without buying at least three books and we all know what happens to them.

  • So my quest is twofold. First, I'm gonna search for the most beautiful

  • bookstore in the world.

  • Well, not really the whole world, mostly just Western Europe and South America. And second,

  • I'm gonna ask a bunch of incredibly smart people to help me figure out how to read more books.

  • Because right now my whole content diet is out of whack and if I continue at this pace, I'm gonna know jack-shit before I die.

  • I want to first...

  • show you what you're currently doing because that will actually stress you out in a way that I think will be helpful.

  • This is Tim Urban

  • He's an entrepreneur,

  • A TED speaker and has a pretty influential blog called Wait But Why,

  • which influences the likes of well Elon Musk.

  • I Figured if anyone could help me get perspective on my book store anxiety, it would be him. Okay. So how much do you read?

  • I probably read, look if I'm being honest, like a book a year. Okay. I need to qualify this, when I say one book a year,

  • I'm just meaning one book for pleasure. Simply not for work or skimming self-help books

  • How [stumbles] How long are you gonna live? My oldest grandparents lived till about like 90. So you have 55 years left.

  • So, let's just look at this here

  • All right.

  • Okay, it's a book

  • So this is the book that you're gonna read this year, okay, and this is the book you're gonna read next year and

  • this is the book that you might not finish because you're gonna die while reading this book here.

  • Okay, this shelf here, up here, is

  • about 55 books

  • This is all the books you're ever gonna read again, this is it.

  • I wish I had read more books.

  • Let's just figure out how fast you're reading. I want you to read from here to that dot.

  • Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins, my sin, my soul.

  • Lolita

  • For tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap at three on the teeth

  • Lo-Li-Ta

  • Okay

  • Okay, six minutes and 27 seconds. -

  • It felt like eternity. Okay so, you read

  • about 1550 words in 6 minutes 27 seconds 397 this worked out really nicely. You read a book in about ten hours.

  • Somehow I feel like you don't, but I'll give it to you. You were racing there. You were timing but look I mean

  • let's just give you the benefit of the doubt.

  • Sleep is good, but books are better

  • George R. R. Martin

  • Okay, you're awake about sixteen hours a day. That's thirty two half hours a day it's kind of allowing

  • you thirty two half hours, right currently at one point six four minutes a day

  • this is this is what Max allots to reading now, but if you allotted

  • one of these of every day to reading, you will become a major reader who'll read a thousand books instead of fifty-five.

  • Wait a minute. To read nine hundred and forty five more books before I die

  • all I need to do is read 30 minutes a day. Someone will be like, "Oh my grandfather. He's this great reader

  • He's read everything." That's you versus being like,

  • "Yeah, my grandfather literally has not read anything ever." The secret of the people who were like, "Yeah,

  • here are my 10 favorite books of 2016." and you're just like how do they...

  • It's... They just do this and you don't. Tim was giving me new

  • hope. Maybe there was a way to overcome my book anxiety after all.

  • You wake up in the morning and you flip on an audio book while you're brushing your teeth and making breakfast.

  • Done. That's it. You've done your thirty minutes

  • If you read for two hours every Saturday, you like to wake up in the morning and you have a Saturday session in a coffee

  • shop reading. You've just done four sevenths of your week.

  • It's very inspiring when you realize how easy you can read a thousand, and this is at your slow ass reading rate.

  • This also just speaks to the power of habits, because if you have the right habit,

  • that's a breeze.

  • If you don't have the right habit, you'll do it four days in a row, and then you'll take 40 days off.

  • At 30 minutes a day. Only.

  • you can read this,

  • and War and Peace,

  • and Moby Dick,

  • and three other books.

  • Okay

  • We are now heading to Europe, to Brussels first actually, to see one of the most amazing bookstores in the world.

  • First stop: Brussels.

  • A city famous for beer, chocolate, Tintin, the EU and now a bookstore on the city's outskirts called

  • Cook & Book.

  • Okay, so I am here at Cook & Book

  • It doesn't look like much from the outside, but look at the size of this place.

  • It's spread out across one, two, three, four, five six, seven eight buildings

  • Cook & Books' nine different libraries include the literature room,

  • The English bookstore,

  • Travel,

  • Fine Arts,

  • comics and graphic novels,

  • Music,

  • Oh and then there's the home and garden room, the cookbook room and the children's bookstore.

  • It's like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory but the bookstore version

  • Okay, well today has gotten off to somewhat of a rough start

  • I had wanted to leave

  • Brussels at 11 but I woke up at around 11:30

  • It's now one

  • The book store closes at 6:00

  • And I'm renting a car to drive to Maastricht, which should only be about an hour and a half, we've got the rental car

  • Okay, here we go the great European driving experiment.

  • I think I got it. I'm on the wrong side of the road already.

  • It's a church. Dominican church and it's empty for almost 200 years.

  • We celebrate carnival in it, it has Christmas markets in it, Napoleon's stored his horse and carriages over here

  • Different things.

  • My favorite story about the church is that it housed the local guillotine in the 19th century.

  • Indiana Jones.

  • I like these books.

  • Do you read a lot of books? Yes. 50 to 60 books in a year. 50 to 60 books a year?

  • Yes. That's a lot of books. That's a lot of books, yeah. A lot of reading. Do you watch TV?

  • Little, just little yeah, not much. Yes

  • I hope I will be able to confide everything to you as I have never been able to confide in anyone

  • And I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support

  • How do you make time for all those books?

  • I go to bed to bed early and make time to read. Yes. How many... how many hours a day would you say you read?

  • One to two hours. Yes. Depends how tired I am.

  • Thank you so much.You're welcome. I really appreciate it

  • Bye.

  • I like big books and I cannot lie.

  • I think that I'm over doing it with news. I gorge myself on news.

  • So you said you read the news

  • about 20 minutes a day and you're on social media another 30

  • 50 minutes a day of those things adds up to three hundred and four hours a year

  • Which would be, at your rate, over 30 books. So you're saying there's a 30 bookshelf that is filled...

  • With news and social media.

  • Right now what we're doing is we're taking a 30 book shelf that you are reading every year and we're taking 17 of the News and

  • social media books out and

  • We're putting in 17 new books

  • There's a blog called Barking Up the Wrong Tree by a guy named Eric Barker

  • and

  • His blog is super popular, it's great and

  • It's about, you know, for his... in order to write he needs to read one or two

  • Even three things just to write one post. He doesn't post every week. So he must read fifty maybe a hundred books a year

  • He has some magical secret. I don't know what it is, but

  • You're trying to go to 18 if he's reading 50 or 100. That's a whole different thing

  • and again, you know he has he does other things with his time, so I didn't know what

  • His secret is but you should talk to him

  • My name is Eric Barker and I'm an addict.

  • This is Eric Barker. Over the last 10 years

  • he's become one of the most popular writers on the internet with his blog "Barking up the Wrong Tree" now available in best-selling book form.

  • His posts like "Six Hostage Negotiation Techniques That Will Get You What You Want"

  • and "how to make your life better by sending five simple emails"

  • Draw from cutting-edge findings in science and human behavior to distill clear and simple life hacks

  • Like talking to yourself using the word you "you can do it", "you're the best" is actually more effective than using the word I.

  • I can't. I suck.

  • For each post he does a ton of research including reading multiple books and journals and conducting long interviews

  • And he's posting one a week. So how do you do it? What's your process?

  • How do you get through so much material? On my phone. I don't have Facebook. I don't have Twitter. I don't have email

  • My instinct to check social media, I've redirected towards the Kindle app

  • I give myself three checks a day unless there's an explicit reason when I know an important emails coming in

  • So it's like, you can check everything now. Facebook, Twitter, Email. Get it all done

  • but anytime I have that urge to check, you know, I pause for a second and I'm like

  • Is there a good reason for this? And if not, I redirect that towards towards reading a blog

  • Yet habit strange thing what cannot have it accomplished?

  • Do you read on your iPhone? Most of my reading takes place on my iPad where it's it's really

  • Is it iPad or Kindle?

  • It's the Kindle app on the iPad

  • Interesting.

  • This also just speaks to the power of habits because changing a habit is like

  • Overriding your current software and if you do it enough times

  • What's cool about your brain, is it rewrites it to accommodate the new behavior you're saying?

  • Oh

  • I guess we're doing this everyday now. In his book, The Power of Habit

  • Charles Duhigg says habits emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. When an action becomes a habit

  • It actually moves to a different part of the brain. You see decision making and willpower take place in the prefrontal cortex

  • That's prime real estate when we turn an action into a habit

  • It migrates to the basal ganglia and therefore frees up space in the prefrontal cortex

  • for other more important decisions

  • There's one expert in terms of habit formation BJ Fogg at Stanford and I love this one principle

  • He uses it's called minimum viable effort

  • When you're trying to build a habit, he says the key thing is consistency, because if it's not consistent, it's not a habit

  • So minimum viable effort you want to start flossing more? Okay, floss one tooth

  • Just floss one tooth. Make it so simple that you can't not do it

  • I'm gonna read one page. It's so simple. I can't not do it. I'd feel like an idiot

  • once you can do that for like two weeks straight great two pages.

  • As opposed to setting this crazy high goal, failing, feeling bad, not wanting to do it

  • Now you've got a Pavlovian association where it's like, oh, I tried that it didn't work

  • I don't feel good. In discussing helpful ways to build a habit, Duhigg talks a lot about

  • rewards like giving yourself a piece of chocolate,

  • or in my case a mini Cinnabon, every time you perform a desired habit

  • The difference between the thousand book reader and the 55 book reader in their lifetimes isn't really much

  • It's one has the right habit and the other one doesn't have the right habit

  • Rigid the skeleton of habits alone upholds the human frame

  • Do you read one book at a time?

  • Or do you read like five books at once?

  • I read multiple books at once and especially, you know, when you're when you're starting out, you know, try and build that habit

  • totally read multiple books because once again you you kind of want that you want that you wanna be excited and

  • At least at first, you know, it's like if it if you're excited about something and then it doesn't pan out

  • You're not so much fine. The most important thing is you want to keep reading you want to build that reading habit

  • So if it turns into a slog put it aside take the next one because first and foremost just make sure you're enjoying it

  • What I kept hearing him say was: allow yourself to fall in love

  • It's okay to date a lot of books at the beginning before you really make a connection with one

  • But then once you do throw yourself in full bore

  • maybe if I only focused on how excited I was to read my current book so much so that I just read it at every

  • Free moment I had: on the subway, in an uber or times I'd just be mindlessly checking social media

  • I mean if I did all that I could surely make a habit of reading 30 minutes a day

  • Couldn't I?

  • It's also worth noting that on Eric's blog he explains another good hack to forming a habit is using friends to hold you accountable

  • I will read "Infinite Jest" with you. I will have a book club

  • So we're going to do "Infinite Jest?"

  • I'm gonna start this it seems even as I say that I'm like there's no way I could ever read this

  • It is

  • Just like 9:15 in Porto Portugal. We're going over now to

  • Livraria Lello, bookstore Lello. Oh my god. There's a huge line to get into this place

  • What's interesting about Lello is that they actually make you buy a ticket for four Euros

  • but those four euros are against any book that you might buy in there

  • It's like Wimbledon over here

  • Are there always this many people here? Yes every day

  • We're talking about a million a year, which is 3,000 a day.

  • It's the most authentic Harry Potter universe that actually exists.

  • That's my going theory.

  • Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number 4 Privet Drive were proud to say that they were perfectly normal

  • Thank you very much, JK Rowling

  • Apparently lived in Porto. She was married with someone here and she used to come here and write

  • Where you were upstairs before we used to have a cafe

  • It was a very quiet place like most bookstores

  • And she was so overwhelmed with the beauty of it so she would come and sit down and write here

  • and

  • They say she got inspired by a lot of the details

  • We've got here the stairs for example

  • The fluidity. "Behind the wall was a spiral staircase that was moving smoothly upward like an escalator"

  • She took things from town from the fountain next door from the students wearing black: "First year

  • Students will require three sets of plain work robes, black." Most people come here thinking

  • That the movie was actually filmed here

  • Hi everyone, I'm Howard Berg the world's fastest reader

  • I'm here today to share with you some of the strategies that helped me get into the Guinness Book of World Records

  • So let's get started. We have Howard Berg with us this morning

  • He is the world's fastest reader. The world's fastest reader Howard Berg is wrapping up Max Baucus'

  • Health Care Bill. I'm the world's fastest reader

  • I can read around 80 pages a minute this