Subway Education – How I read 5 Books in 3 Weeks riding the NYC Metro

Subway Education - How I read 5 Books in 3 Weeks riding the NYC Metro


There’s always that excuse: I got so many things over my head everyday, that I basically don’t have time to read books. That’s bullshit. It’s not that you don’t have time, it’s that you don’t make time.

I understand that as you progress through the day, your motivation levels (as seen as dopamine and serotonin) seem to plummet. No wonder that if you work 9-5 and if your job is burdensome, the only thing you want to do as you get home, is to do nothing.

You don’t want to work on something that could provide you additional income. You don’t want to read books. You barely get yourself into the gym, and you mostly find comfort in watching TV and eating foods that may inefficiently recover your dopamine and serotonin levels.

Sadly, this is a vicious cycle that only a few people can escape from. It takes active engagement, commitment and most often forcing yourself out of the comfort zone to make it through. It’s easy and most pleasant for some people to do nothing, than to putting themselves out there.

I’ve been through this, and sometimes I still find myself getting dragged into the do-nothing zone, but I fight back. A good book that helps you keep your willpower and your dopamine levels constantly high all throughout the day is The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal. Now let me give you some insight.

Underground Education

I always hated reading books. I even laughed at those claiming to put away time for this practice. Ironically, I became one of them. 5 years ago (in 2010), as I moved from home, I started listening to audiobooks; the first one, I believe, was Never Give Up, by Donald Trump. That was my trigger.

After listening to the book, I got the ebook. Then I started reading books from Brian Tracy, one of my virtual mentors. Then I met him in person. I wouldn’t have met Brian were it not for reading books on personal development.

As I implemented practices from the books I read, and as I kept failing at things, I knew that I would ultimately reach success. I created a positive feedback loop between reading/educating myself and achievement in life. That’s how I made reading a must-do for everyday. It allowed me to full-fill most of my dreams, especially the one of visiting and living in New York City.

Flash-forward to Sept, 2014. I find myself getting a library card at New York City Public Library, Science, Industry and Business Department. That was the second day after I got to the U.S.

I stayed in NYC for 3 weeks and during my stay I was able to read 5 books from the library and some more on my tablet. You would think that reading was the only thing I did all day. You could not be far from the truth.

I attended a lot of events, met new people everyday, worked on my blog, worked on my second book, visited the top attractions of the city, and much more. So when did I make time to read this much?

It was during my daily commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan. That allowed me to dedicate at least two hours everyday to reading. Additionally to that, I usually read before going to sleep.

So there is no catch. I do not speed-read. I believe that’s crap. I don’t want to skim through books (or life) and never retain anything. I dislike superficiality. I want to digest one word at a time. It gives me immense pleasure and it helps me achieve so much.

Subway Education - How I read 5 Books in 3 Weeks riding the NYC Metro 2

One of the possible reasons I got so caught into this habit is probably the applicability/practicality of what I read. I read non-fiction, mostly business, personal development, neuroscience, and nutrition science books. I also read science journals, which is part of the research I do for my books. Applying what I read and seeing it work (after multiple trials) made me stick to this habit.

My second stay in New York City didn’t change anything. While I’m much busier that during my first stay, I renewed my library card from the very beginning I got here. 3 and half weeks later and I’m reading the 6th book I checked-out of the library. During this time, I read two more on my tablet.

Take-Away Messages

Many people read during their subway commute. I see this everyday. Some people listen to audio books, and that’s okay as long as it doesn’t imply too much technical language and makes you focus extensively on what you listen.

Many more people play candy crush or other games, or listen to music while they travel the subway. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as they are satisfied with their condition.

If you are in the same situation and if you’re not satisfied with your condition, why not transform your commute into learning time?

Think about it, digesting educational material for at least 2 hours/day, 5 times a week on a specific subject (or a few subjects) will add to more than 500 hours of training per year. If you implement what you read and if you improve based on your feedback and your results, you will become an expert in the fields you study. Making a living (if not a fortune) would suddenly don’t seem so far fetched.

In terms of books alone, as of May 2015, I read 40+ books this year. A blogpost with a list of some of them is up next.

While I’m at home or while I travel to other destination, I reserve time for reading everyday. It’s not a hobby. It’s one of my daily must-do. Besides, I also try to transform time spending doing mentally-inactive tasks (such as cooking, doing chores around the house, etc) into educational time by listening to audiobooks.

To further educate myself I attend online courses almost everyday and watch Youtube lectures and seminars on my most important fields of interest. But this is the subject of another blogpost or, who knows, of another book.

I challenge you to give me your excuses for not reading everyday. I will do my best to help you change that, of course, if you’re willing to. If you’re from the self-education camp and you read everyday, please tell me about some of your habits or give me your tips on how you do it. Maybe we can help others become more efficient and successful in their lives.

Photo: here

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2 Responses to Subway Education – How I read 5 Books in 3 Weeks riding the NYC Metro

  1. Neil says:

    I enjoy reading but tend to go on to the next book rather than implementing what I’ve read! How do you structure your implementation? Thanks

    • Chris Chris says:

      Neil, I dont structure. It would take too much time and the possibility of never taking action. I just do it as soon as possible. Often times I fail, but with repetition and improvement, I get to a resolution most of the times…

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