Books aren’t just for the bookish anymore. The computer has proven to be the biggest innovation since the printing press for making the written word accessible to just about anyone. Finding something to read may not be difficult, but making the most of your reading time can be more complicated.
Fortunately, advice has arrived, from Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The famous humanitarian and entrepreneur sat down for an interview with Quartz and dove into his four hard-and-fast rules when it comes to reading. You’ll want to take note of these—after all, science says that a healthy reading habit can help you live longer.
Gates’ rules, in short:
- Use the margins for note-taking
- “Particularly if it’s a nonfiction book, are you taking in new knowledge and sort of attaching [it] to knowledge you have? For me, taking notes helps make sure that I’m really thinking hard about what’s in there.”
- Finish everything that you start
- “[Infinite Jest*] is quite long and complicated and I don’t want to make an exception. It’s my rule to get to the end.” (*Infinite Jest is 1,069 pages long.) If you don’t have the time to finish it yourself, just check out the ending right here.
- Pick a medium that you’re comfortable with—print or digital (Gates prefers print.)
- “Over time I will make the switch [to digital]…[print] I’m used to that and it’s ridiculous, I have this whole book bag that goes on trips with me and it’s voluminous and antiquated.”
- Designate an hour for your reading
- “You’d want to be sitting down for an hour at a time because otherwise just getting your mind around [the work, and say] ‘OK, what was I reading?’ It’s not the kind of thing you can do five minutes here, 10 minutes there.”
If you want to have an ideal reading experience, take it from the billionaire. Don’t know where to start? Check out these list of books you really should have read by now.