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How to Read More Books: 20+ Pieces of Advice From People Who Love to Read

Illustration of man and woman reading books

We’re almost one year into the COVID-19 pandemic and while a return to normalcy inches closer and closer, we’re still tasked with finding ways to fill our time until that happens. Chances are, many of you have spent the duration of the pandemic mindlessly scrolling through Netflix (or one of the many other subscription services that you signed up for this past year) in search of content and new ways to engage your mind. One year in, it may feel like your options for quality content are starting to dwindle.

With the start of a new year comes new resolutions, and one of those may have been to cut down on Netflix, doomscroll a little less, and read more. Admit it, there’s probably pile of books sitting somewhere in your home that you once optimistically collected with an earnest hope to read. But then that new show started, or your deadline creeped up, or you simply just didn’t feel like it. That’s okay.

If you’re looking to refresh your goals and read more this year, we’ve rounded up the best advice to get you behind a book and turning pages. From sports marketing professionals and financial advisors to bestselling authors and tech founders, we asked 20+ self-proclaimed bibliophiles about their recommended reads, favourite local bookstores, and, most importantly, their best advice on how to read more books. Swipe through the gallery below to read what they had to say.

Tip 1: Make it a habit

Tip 1: Make it a habit

Charlotte Fortier

Charlotte Fortier

I’m the VP, Operations at Bay Street Bull. Long before becoming a digital leader, I was a page at the Toronto Public Library. 

My best advice on how to read more books: Reading is habitual. Sometimes it can be intimidating to crack open a new book when you haven’t read in months or when you’re embarking on a 500-page opus. I think the easiest way to overcome that is to create a habit around reading. Whether that’s waking up half an hour earlier and starting your day with a cup of coffee and a good book, or heading to bed earlier than usual, lighting a candle, and ending off the day with some reading. The best way to get back into reading is to just make time for it. 

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? I set myself an arbitrary goal to read 20 books in 2020 and surprised myself by doing it! It felt a bit daunting to bump it up to 21 books in 2021 but I was really inspired by all the books I’d read so I figured, why not try? 

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. Right before we went into the first lockdown I saw the Illusionists exhibit at the AGO. The exhibit was so magical; it transported you into a colourful world of escape artists. It was with this mood in mind that I started Kavalier & Clay, my first COVID read. It was the perfect literary escape from the stresses of the real world. 

What are you reading right now? Writers & Lovers by Lily King 

What is currently on your to-read list? A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn 

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? Any time a friend asks for a recommendation to get back into reading after a long reprieve, I suggest both Sally Rooney novels, Less by Andrew Sean Greer, and The French Exit by Patrick Dewitt—all of which have you hooked from the first page. 

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? Book City but I’ll forever miss the days of Nicholas Hoare.

Alexandra Horwood

Alexandra Horwood

I am a working mother of two who founded and runs a multi-million-dollar practice living in Toronto. I love to cook, read, exercise, and travel and am constantly working on improving myself and helping others around me.

Occupation: Director, Wealth Management, Portfolio Manager, Investment Advisor; Richardson Wealth 

My best advice on how to read more books: Set aside time every day that is dedicated reading time. For me, that is after my kids are asleep and my husband and I have spent time together. It could be anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour before bed each night. I consider it my “downtime” for the day. 

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? My annual goal is to read 50+ books each year, which equates to approximately one book per week. I mostly read for personal and professional development, and take my fiction with me on vacation. During the height of [the pandemic,] I read mostly fiction because, quite frankly, I was very stressed and felt I needed a mental escape.

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? How to Raise Successful People: Simple Lessons for Radical Results by Esther Wojcicki. Written by the mother of three daughters (one of which is the CEO of YouTube, the other, the founder of 23&Me, and the third, a professor of pediatric medicine,) it teaches the importance of encouraging independence in children and provides practical advice to a generation of helicopter parents and ‘Tiger Moms.”

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss. Written by the former lead negotiator for the FBI, this is an exceptional book that supported me in negotiating two massive bonuses with my firm.

What are you reading right now? Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott. It is a truly engaging read by the former head of sales at Google, mentored by Sheryl Sandberg during her time there, poached by Apple, and currently the executive coach of many Silicon Valley CEOs on how to run a successful team. I have been applying the concepts in 2021 and noticing massive results. It is crucially important to me that I am a good boss and that my team is incentivized, appreciated, corrected promptly, and engaged in their work. 

What is currently on your to-read list? Thinking Fast & Slow [by Daniel Kahneman], You’re Not Listening [by Kate Murphy], etc. I have a stack of about 50 books to work my way through already.

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? Barely Used Books in Parry Sound 

Justin Lortie

Justin Lortie

I am the founder of Wedge, an independent brand and design firm based in Montreal and operating globally with progressive partners who value distinct character and quality. On weekends I find my greatest inspiration in nature, from hiking and skiing to rock climbing. So much so that I named my company after a glacier. 

Occupation: Founder and Design Director, Wedge 

My best advice on how to read more books: Make it a ritual. For me, there’s this moment towards the end of the evening where everything slows down. I light a candle or incense, put some music on, and crack open a book.

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? This is like running. Some people are about tracking every kilometer and are quite [intense] about it. I’m more about enjoying the run while pushing my limits a little bit more every time. I’m happy with a book (or two) each month—quality before quantity.

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike [by Phil Knight.] Recommended by a client, I devoured it in a week. [He is a] very relatable guy behind one of the strongest brands out there; you won’t regret this book.

What are you reading right now? It may be unoriginal but I’m going through Obama’s latest book. It’s quite impressive and inspiring to see how he’s “just” a regular (yet very special) person doing his job with an infinite amount of optimism, faith, and an ability (seen as a weakness by some) to most often find a compromise to move forward. [It] is a beautiful example of diplomacy and empathy. In between his successes and failures, he reminds me of the importance to keep looking ahead. 

Reading in parallel: History of Africa by Kevin Shillington. This is an amazing history book written from the perspective of the continent. If you enjoyed Sapiens this will be up your alley. This book was recommended to me by Venessa Appiah, a specialist in African Studies.

What is currently on your to-read list? The World of Charles and Ray Eames—an in-depth review of the iconic couple’s work through the lens of an exhibition at London’s Barbican Centre. We know the famous Eames chairs, but few of us know the pair’s work across architecture, furniture, film, communication, and art direction.

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends/network? The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli. This is an all-time favourite: a very poetic approach to physics and the meaning of life. I also recommend On The Shortness of Life by Roman philosopher Seneca. [It is] interesting how people weren’t thinking that differently 2,000 years ago. The things he thinks about are quite similar to the questions I am asking myself. Get a modern adaptation, it’s easier to read. I have one by Gregory Hays.

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? In Toronto, The Monkey’s Paw, a very special bookshop with an incredible curation of rare publishings and curiosities. In Montreal, CCA Library (Canadian Centre for Architecture)

Tip 2: Read what you like

Tip 2: Read what you like

Bianca Marais

Bianca Marais

I’m the author of two novels, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words and If You Want to Make God Laugh. I also teach Creative Writing at the University of Toronto’s SCS, and I host a podcast aimed at emerging writers called The Shit No One Tells You About Writing.

Occupation: Author

My best advice on how to read more books: Reading shouldn’t be seen as a chore—see it as an escape, something diverting you can do in between other things. Read books you’re intrigued by and are attracted to, not the ones you feel you should be reading.  

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? I’m an A-type, control freak Capricorn. My entire life is governed by lists and goals, things I need to tick off of a list. Reading is what I do for pleasure and so I don’t want any anxiety associated with it. Setting goals of reading 80 books a year makes reading a chore and makes me anxious when I fall behind. No one sets television goals or says “I have to watch 300 movies this year.” My only goals are to read books that set my mind alight, entertain me, and change the way I see the world.

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. It’s a book that defies genre and has been enjoyed by every single person I’ve recommended it to regardless of their demographic or what they usually read. It was achingly sincere and beautiful, and it gave me faith in my fellow man in a year when that faith was greatly tested. It was entertaining and refreshing, and I loved every page of it!

What are you reading right now? I’ve just started Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, which won the 2020 Booker Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Awards. It’s that very rare book lauded by both critics and readers alike. 

What is currently on your to-read list? All three of Elizabeth Acevedo’s novels, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis, The Witches of New York by Ami McKay, Miss Behave by Malebo Sephodi, The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. and Sue Miller’s entire backlist.

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? I don’t often recommend one book to everyone; I prefer to curate titles according to what I think each of my friends will enjoy. The books I’ve most recommended recently besides the above mentioned are The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, Deacon King Kong by James McBride, and From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle.

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? Being an author, I have many! In Ontario, my favourites are Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, BookLore in Orangeville, Ben McNally Books in Toronto, Let’s Talk Books in Cobourg, Simcoe Street Books in Creemore, and The Book Keeper in Sarnia.

Tip 3: Move on

Tip 3: Move on

Alison Lawler-Dean

Alison Lawler-Dean

I’m a marketing and communications leader currently championing a love of reading (and wonderful living, wellness, kids and baby product) for Indigo. Prior to Indigo, I ran marketing for Flow Alkaline Spring Water and Rethink Breast Cancer. I love building things (most recently a podcast and a vintage dollhouse) and brands. 

Occupation: VP, Marketing, Indigo

My best advice on how to read more: Get over the need to finish a book. I now have several on the go at once with a mix of fiction and non-fiction, so if I am not connecting with one there is always something else to dive into.

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? I am aiming to read 50 books this year—approximately one a week. I have also joined the Indigo reading challenge and am aiming to read 21 different categories in 2021 including a book written by a trans author to something that transports me to another place. 

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. I loved the mix of science, nature, and spirituality. I read most of it over the summer and it made me look at the natural world in such a new way. The author is from the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. I appreciated the Indigenous traditions and stories she shares. 

What are you reading right now? The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr, Keep Sharp by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

What is currently on your to-read list? The Obama memoir, Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, poetry by Mary Oliver, and revisiting the classic Jane Eyre.

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends/network? I recommend Essentialism by Greg Mckeown to my team and colleagues. Untamed by Glennon Doyle is a fantastic look at the female experience.

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? Indigo! I’m also a big library fan. 

Ria Riaz

Ria Riaz

I am a marketer and community builder who loves tech. I am passionate about building inclusive communities and over the last ten years, I have done exactly that. I am the founder of Women Who Code Toronto, Canadian Community Builders, and have helped start a few other communities alongside other community builders. 

Occupation: Head of Marketing, MESH/diversity

My best advice on how to read more books: Read what you like instead of compulsively reading bestsellers you don’t enjoy. If you don’t enjoy a book, quit and start one that you do enjoy.

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? I don’t usually give myself a concrete numerical goal but in previous years I have read one to two books per weekend and I will probably do the same this year. I have already read three books since the start of 2021. My goal is to read more books written by BIPOC [authors] this year, especially those focused on the South Asian diaspora. I am a South Asian myself and want to read more books written by and about South Asians. Another goal is to read more from my own library. I own nearly 1,000 books. There are many that I want to re-read and some that I have not read at all! 

What is your favourite book you read in 2020? Remnants of a Separation : A History of Partition Through Material Memory by Aanchal Malhotra. I discovered this book by chance on Instagram when I was looking at artifacts from India and Pakistan. The book revisits the partition of India and Pakistan through personal and intimate objects that refugees carried with them across the border during their migration. 

As a granddaughter of refugees who moved from India to Pakistan, I found common threads that linked my family to the stories highlighted in this book. They reminded me of stories my grandparents and parents have shared with me and served as a beautiful reminder of our rich, cultural background. 

What are you reading right now? Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath by Heather Clark

What is currently on your to-read list? Only a Lodger …. And Hardly That: A Fictional Biography by Vesna Main, Grand Union by Zadie Smith, and The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends?

A Tale for The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, Naked byDavid Sedaris, and Just Kids by Patti Smith.

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? Type Books in Forest Hill [Toronto]. It is in my neighbourhood and has the friendliest staff. I have bought 90 percent of my books there since 2017.

Tip 4: Read more than one book at a time

Tip 4: Read more than one book at a time

Sue Kuruvilla

Sue Kuruvilla

I’m fresh in my role at Random House Canada, having just started in January 2021. Previously, I have worked in brand management, PR and marketing for Nike, Vespa, Mattel, Fred Perry, Giants of Africa, and Masai Ujiri. 

Occupation: Publisher, Random House Canada 

My best advice on how to read more books: Read multiple books at once. I keep books all over my condo and tend to read fiction and non-fiction at [the same time] to keep my varied interests engaged.  

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? To read as many diverse, character-driven manuscripts and books as possible! Truth is stranger than fiction. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs so I want to incorporate more literary fiction. I’ve read five books over the first two weeks of January.

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? Untamed by Glennon Doyle. This was exactly the book I needed at the start of the pandemic lockdown in March. It is an intimate memoir sprinkled with inspirational and humorous stories that reflect the ways women are tamed from birth.  

What are you reading right now? The Scientist and the Psychic: A Son’s Exploration of His Mother’s Gift by Dr. Christian Smith. This book is a unique one-of-a-kind memoir focused on belief, skepticism, and familial love. Written by the son of a renowned Canadian psychic, it weaves together the story of his broken  relationship with his mother with an investigation into her paranormal abilities

What is currently on your to-read list? Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson 

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? Can You Hear Me Now? by Celina Caesar-Chavannes (out Feb. 2), The Centaur’s Wife by Amanda Leduc (out Feb. 16), and Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller.

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? In normal times, I love meandering through independent bookstores. I find they provide insights into the local culture and its people. Whenever I travel, I try to find a local bookstore and spend some time there. Needless, to say, I have too many favourites to name!

Tyler Kenny

Tyler Kenny

A Torontonian at heart, I’m currently based in Niagara-On-The-Lake but have spent the last five years in London and New York. By day, I work on content strategy for events like The World Economic Forum and by night, I can be found shopping independent designers and dreaming of visiting a museum again.

Occupation: US Influencer Lead, Content and Publishing Strategist, Hill+Knowlton Strategies 

My advice on how to read more books: I usually have two books on the go at any given time, one for mornings and one for the evening and weekends, along with something more light or interactive (i.e a book on journaling). I view reading as leisure (as opposed to a chore) and keep a notebook of phrases, ideas, or imagery that stand out to me.

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? I have no qualitative goals to hit but I am expanding my horizons and being open to new types of books. I read a lot of fashion, business, and biographies in 2020 so I’m now turning inward and looking for inspiration in new fields.  

What was your favourite book that you read in 2020? Werner Herzog: A Guide For the Perplexed. It was a beast to read but Werner’s approach to everyday problems, people, and, of course, film was completely authentic and an inspiration to be fully oneself, no matter the circumstance. 

What are you reading right now? At the moment I’m reading Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Everyday by Todd Henry and The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt. I’m also still working through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron—half book, half exercise on finding spiritual creativity. 

What is currently on your to-read list? My 2021 reading list ranges from esoteric books on tarot and the astral plane to books that highlight BIPOC and LGBTQ+ experiences like When You Look Like Us by Pamela Harris and Missing from the Village by Justin Ling.

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? I am forever waxing poetic about author Austin Kleon. He writes and illustrates small books that serve as both thought starters and gentle reminders for what we know about creativity, sharing, work, and persevering in dark times. Back when I had a commute, I always had one of his books in my bag. They are perfect for popping open on short trips. 

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? I’m ashamed to say I’m not too familiar with Canadian bookstores having lived abroad for the past five years. I’ll cheat and give a little wanderlust via Livraria Lello in Porto and Maison Assouline in London.

Tip 5: Immerse yourself

Tip 5: Immerse yourself

Jeanne Lam

Jeanne Lam

I’ve been told I’m a very “Canadian” American, which delights the New Yorker in me. My two little girls keep me busy and always learning, and my job as the Chief Business Officer of the Wattpad platform gives me great fulfillment.

Occupation: Chief Business Officer, Wattpad

My advice on how to read more books: My approach is to remove any friction between desire-to-read and the act-of-reading. The highest friction point for me is just getting started. So, I stack myself up for success—literally. I have a small stack of four to five books at all times on my nightstand for easy access. The stack mixes genres so there’s something to read for every mood. Combined with a never-ending list of incredible Wattpad stories in my Wattpad Library, I’m never short on fantastic reading options! 

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? I deal with goals all day every day at work, so I don’t want to give myself more pressure. Instead, I pick only a small number of books as must-reads. Everything else feels like icing on the cake.

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli. In 2020, the world outside and inside felt like chaos. Physics explains the world, and Rovelli does it in a way that’s accessible, playful, and so memorable.

What are you reading right now? Historically Inaccurate by Watty Award-winner Shay Bravo and Becoming by Michelle Obama—two stories about women considered as “others” finding their voice. Strong theme, much?

What is currently on your to-read list? In my stack are: The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge by Matt Ridley, and Blockbusters by Anita Elberse.

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? I always find myself recommending Competing Against Luck by Clay Christensen to friends who are building businesses or products. I also love Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela because it is grounding.

Favourite local or independent bookstore(s)?

Re: Reading (on the Danforth in Toronto) is a great bookstore with used and new books.

Truc Nguyen

Truc Nguyen

I’m a Toronto-based writer and communications professional with a background in fashion. 

Occupation: Writer

My advice on how to read more books: If you want to read more books, be sure to surround yourself with books! I am constantly borrowing physical books from the Toronto Public library, checking out eBooks through OverDrive to read on my iPad or Kobo, scoping out the Little Free Library boxes in my neighbourhood, and swapping titles with friends. And because most of my reads are temporary loans, I don’t feel bad if I start and abandon a bestseller or award-winner because I’m just not enjoying it. 

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? We Two Alone by Jack Wang. I don’t always love compilations of short stories, but this one about the experiences of Chinese immigrants was quite touching and beautifully told.  

What are you reading right now? Over the holidays, I read Sex & Vanity by Kevin Kwan, Just Like You by Nick Hornby, and Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan. 

What is currently on your to-read list? The two books on my nightstand are The 4% Fix: How One Hour Can Change Your Life by Karma Brown and How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa.

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? I’m constantly raving about—and mailing—Kim Thuy’s novels to all my Vietnamese relatives. To my fashion and media friends, I’ve recommended Joan Juliet Buck’s The Price of Illusion.

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? Moonbeam Books in Toronto is great for children’s books and gifts.

Jen Kirsch

Jen Kirsch

I’m a dating and relationship columnist, freelance writer and avid reader, and read about 50 books a year. I’m on the Biblio Bash committee, which has raised over $2.4 million for Toronto Public Library and has become one of Toronto’s most sought-after events. Pre-pandemic, I volunteered at SickKids hospital where I’d read to children at the hospital library. I’m currently penning my first book, a collection of essays. 

Occupation: Columnist, Toronto Star

My advice on how to read more books: Always have a book on your person. This one is nice and easy since we’re in a lockdown, but even if you’re going for a stroll, put a book in your purse or pocket. If you have to leave your house to pick up essentials, you may be waiting in a line and that’s a perfect time to sneak in a few pages or a full chapter!

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? This is my first year in over 10 that I haven’t set a goal of 50 reads. Last year, I only read 17 books to completion (not including six or so that I put down after giving it a 50-page chance, at least.) I blame my abysmal lack of reading on both the pandemic and from being in a new relationship. It’s difficult to pick up a book when you’re in the company of someone you can’t get enough of, but I’ve gifted him a few of my fave reads from over the years as an excuse for us to read side by side, escaping into different dimensions while physically in the same space. 

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? Without a doubt Untamed by Glennon Doyle. This life-changing book is all about listening to your inner voice and the chapters were short, sharp, and insightful. If you’re feeling the weight of the world right now and navigating life, especially as a woman, this book is pure magic. Every sentence was so wise, relatable, and made me feel empowered.  

What are you reading right now? Tonight, I’ll be diving into The Push, the debut book by Toronto-based author Ashley Audrain. Fun fact: it was announced recently that Heyday Television—the production company run by Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Marriage Story producer, David Heyman—acquired the film and TV rights after a nine-way bidding 

What is currently on your to-read list? Like many people who eat based on what’s in season each month, I choose my books based on what has just come out (or is about to) or what vibe matches the month. In October, I gravitate towards thrillers; in the summer, I’m more likely to pick up a beach read or a memoir by a notable pop-culture name. Since I plan on getting back on track with my reading this year, my TBR (to be read) list is quite hefty. After The Push, I plan on reading Pretty Little Wife (by Darby Kane), Girl With No Job from Instagram sensation Claudia Oshry, Good Company (out in April ) by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, and Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. 

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? I love prescribing books to friends based on whatever it is in their life that they’re going through. One of my favourite books of all time is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, anything by Elin Hilderbrand if you’re looking for something light and romantic, and if you are dealing with grief or loss, I was so moved by The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs. I also think everyone should at least read The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz once. A therapist told me to read it in my twenties and its messaging drastically changed how I go about my life.

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? TYPE Books on Queen Street West. My boyfriend and I walk by it almost daily so I can look at the window-scape. Before the pandemic, however, I would visit a Toronto Public Library multiple times a week. I feel so grateful to live in a city that boasts the largest library system in North America. As for bookstores, discovering independent ones while travelling is always such a treat, and I can get lost in even the tiniest ones for too long than I should admit. One of my favourite places in the world is Faulkner House Books in New Orleans. I can smell it (and the curated roster of books it holds) just typing this.

 

Tip 6: Use all your time

Tip 6: Use all your time

Chanele McFarlane

Chanele McFarlane

I’m a certified career strategist, TEDx speaker, and freelance writer. As the founder of my career advice website, Do Well Dress Well, I’ve built an international audience around my approachable and practical advice on personal branding and career strategy. I’m also a communications professional specializing in content strategy and thought leadership.

Occupation: Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Do Well Dress Well

My best advice on how to read more books: Read during small pockets of time. You’d be surprised how much time you can find in your day to read if you just get a little creative! I like to pull out a book while on hold during a phone call, waiting for a doctor’s appointment, and even while rocking my daughter to sleep.

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? I do! My goal is to read 40 books in 2021. It’s slightly lower than the amount I read in 2020 (57) but since I’ll be wrapping up my mat leave in the spring, I’m anticipating not having as much time to read as I did last year. I also have challenged myself to read at least five books about money in 2021 to align with my personal goal of becoming more comfortable with money conversations.

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven Mcqueen. It’s a YA (young adult) book but it was one of the most captivating books I have ever read. Set in the 1950’s, it’s an incredibly powerful debut novel that explores race, friendship, and allyship. I sobbed so hard at the end because it was such a beautiful story. I also became very attached to the characters and I still find myself thinking about them as if they are real people.

What are you reading right now? I’m currently reading the 10th-anniversary edition of The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown and Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. I also just started an advanced review copy of Work Won’t Love You Back by Sarah Jaffe. (Yes, I’m one of those people that like to read multiple books at once!)

What is currently on your to-read list? Deep Work by Cal Newport; Atomic Habits by James Clear; Time Off by John Fitch, Max Frenzel, and Mariya Suzuki; Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam; Lead from the Outside by Stacey Abrams.

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa, The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker, So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport, Open Book by Jessica Simpson, Off Script by Marci Ien.

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? A Different Booklist [Toronto]

Tip 7: Embrace a new format

Tip 7: Embrace a new format

Lulu Liang

Lulu Liang

I’m an operator, leader, eCommerce expert and entrepreneur. I’m the CEO of the global beauty brand Luxy Hair and also the Co-Founder of the wellness company Evergreen Journals. I love self and business growth and read a book every week. 

Occupation: CEO, Luxy Hair 

My advice on how to read more books: [My] biggest hack is to listen to books on Audible. I use time when I’m running errands, getting ready, and doing chores to multi-task and “read” at the same time. [You can also] use Blinklist to find a summary of the book first to make sure it’s something you’ll be interested in. [Also,] is there a book you want to read but don’t have time for? Go on YouTube, find a talk by the author on the book, then use huffduffer to suck the audio into your podcast player. (Credit to Andrew Wilkinson and Harley Finkelstein.)

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? I’m not reading to hit a goal. I’m reading because I genuinely love and think we are so privileged to learn from the best minds across the world. 

What as your favourite book that you read in 2020? I’m definitely late to the game but I finally finished Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari in 2020. [It was] absolutely life-changing. It’s a brief history of mankind and will really open up your eyes to the way the world works and broaden your mindset. 

What are you reading right now? I’m in the middle of 16 books currently! I just finished Vivid Vision by Cameron Herold. It’s inspired me to set my personal three-year vision and business vision. I’ve never felt so motivated and clear about the future. 

What is currently on your to-read list? It’s over 200 books long. I’m trying to slow down more and make sure I’m really reflecting and gaining tactical action items and takeaways from books. I’ve started doing a “book report” for every book I finish and I’ve been loving that. 

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? Depends on what they’re looking for but my all-time favourite book is The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. 

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? I “read” all my books through Audible.

Breann Kirincich

Breann Kirincich

I am a lawyer-turned-jack-of-all-finance trades, and mom to a busy three-year-old and three-month-old. In my spare time, I love reading, writing, and The Bachelor. Originally from Nova Scotia, I now call Greektown [in Toronto] home, and regularly overindulge in spanakopita and loukoumades. 

Occupation: Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel, Ewing Morris & Co. Investment Partners Ltd. 

My best advice on how to read more: I borrow a lot of e-books from the Toronto Public Library and have the OverDrive app installed on my phone. This allows me to read my book whenever I have a few spare minutes, whether waiting in line at the grocery store or when I’m up in the middle of the night with my daughter. Audiobooks can be a great option, particularly when you’re logging many hours pushing a stroller! I find books narrated by the authors, such as Becoming by Michelle Obama or Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, to be particularly engaging.  

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? I usually try to read 52 books in 52 weeks. Pregnancy and the pandemic slowed me down in 2020, but I’m determined to meet my goal in 2021. 

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? The Door by Magda Szabó. Set in 1960’s Hungary, the book centers around the relationship between a progressive female writer and her older housekeeper. I loved the way it explored complex female friendships, and the uniqueness of the prose [considering it is] an English translation from Hungarian. It reminded me of The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, another of my favourite books.   

What are you reading right now? Exciting Times by a new young Irish writer, Naoise Dolan. It’s about a young Irish expat working as an English teacher in Hong Kong who gets herself tangled up in a complex love triangle. Think Sally Rooney meets Crazy Rich Asians

What is currently on your to-read list? The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett and The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante. I am a big fan of Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, and have been eagerly anticipating her latest release.  

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss, an excellent book about negotiation written by a former FBI Hostage Negotiator. Me Talk Pretty One Day, or really any short story collection by David Sedaris. He is one of the world’s best humorists, and let’s be honest, we could all use a laugh these days. Atomic Habits by James Clear for anyone looking to build new habits (or break old ones) in 2021. 

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? Book City on the Danforth—they have an eclectic collection and friendly staff.  

Tip 8: Skim it

Tip 8: Skim it

Herbert Lui

Herbert Lui

I’m the author of There Is No Right Way to Do This, a book that supports people with their side projects and learning new skills. I’m also the editorial director at Wonder Shuttle an editorial studio that has worked with organizations like Shopify, Wattpad, and the City of Toronto to turn employee experiences into more customers or hires, at lower costs.

Occupation: Author; Editorial Director, Wonder Shuttle

My advice on how to read more books: Skim more books. Most non-fiction books aren’t worth even skimming, let alone reading in full. If you’re the type of person who’s reading an article about reading more, the goal should be to learn as much in as little time as possible. Don’t read everything cover to cover. Do this instead:

Guide yourself through the book with the table of contents and index. Slowly read the table of contents and see what stands out to you. Flip back to the index and see which words are mentioned the most, and make note of that. Flip the book to those pages you noted and read them—chances are you’ll probably get where the book is going, what the major points are, and what is most relevant to you.

Do the opposite of what you usually do. If you’re like me, and in the habit of reading cover to cover, then read more than one book at once and don’t finish them. If you’re used to reading a ton of books but never finishing them, then try focusing on one book—pick a short one that you can do in one sitting. 

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? I used to read only things that caught my interest and left the important books on the shelf. (The best definition of an “important” book is one that you feel will benefit you in some tangible way.) I changed that last year, picking up books I’d always meant to read and have been kicking myself in the head since. This year, I vow to read more important books and less interesting ones.

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? Eat a Peach by David Chang and Gabe Ulla. The beauty of this book is in its relatability and versatility. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader, an artist, an immigrant, or just a person who really likes food (Chang is the founder of Momofuku), you’re going to love Eat a Peach. I have recommended it to many friends and will continue doing so. It was a great blend of memoir, self-improvement, and artistic advice.

What are you reading right now? I just put down The Magic Feather Effect by Melanie Warner. I am skimming through A Culture of Growth by Joel Mokyr and Obviously Awesome by April Dunford, both of which are really good books. I’m very slowly working through Alan Weiss’s Million Dollar Consulting.

What is currently on your to-read list? I am about to start Factfulness by Hans Rosling.  Mindset by Carol Dweck is after that. I plan on re-reading How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren. It sat on my shelf for eight years, and it might be the most useful book I’ve ever read in my life. The meta title is the cherry on top.

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? I run a newsletter where I recommend books, entitled Best of Books. In the December 2020 issue, I mentioned Eat a Peach and How to Read a Book, as well as Maria Konnikova’s The Biggest Bluff.

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? I like the BMV a lot. I really like the row of used bookstores on Bloor [in Toronto]—Doug Miller, Seekers, BMV. Ben McNally books has a great atmosphere. Presse International has a great collection of magazines, Soop Soop is good too. Toronto has a lot of amazing bookstores.

Tip 9: Unplug

Tip 9: Unplug

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

I’m an entrepreneur, a former tech journalist, and a seasoned marketer. In addition to Willful, I’m a board member at Save the Children Canada, and a co-chair of the #Tech4SickKids council. I’m a lifelong reading enthusiast who spent all of my allowance money on Sweet Valley Twins books (I wish I was a Jessica, but I’m probably more of an Elizabeth).

Occupation: Co-founder and CEO, Willful

My best advice on how to read more books: Replace your phone with a book before bed. We’re so conditioned to scroll social apps or the news before falling asleep. Not only does ‘doom scrolling’ cause poor sleep, but it also takes up 15-30 minutes every night that could be spent reading. I don’t take this advice all the time, but I’m trying.

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? I’m not a big fan of quantitative goals—it takes the joy out of reading to have to get through a book every week or every month, and it forces you to rush through books without truly enjoying and savouring them. I go through phases where I can’t read enough (for example, I’ve read five books since the holiday break) but sometimes I won’t pick up a book for a month if I don’t have anything burning on my list, or if I’m really into a Netflix show (or three). My first qualitative goal is to replace my bedtime social media scrolling with reading fiction. I have managed to do it for all of 2021, which is an impressive 11-day streak! My second qualitative goal is to read more business books that help me improve as a leader. Our investors, advisors, and fellow founders constantly recommend books, and every time they mention a favourite I add it to my Amazon cart. To me, self-awareness is one of the best traits of a great leader, and I am self-aware that I have lots to learn! 

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? My favourite book of 2020 was When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. It’s an incredibly moving memoir by a neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with terminal cancer—it’s a beautiful rumination on the meaning of life, and his acceptance of death. My company has a mission to destigmatize conversations about death, so I really resonated with how open he was about it. It’s just a beautiful book that reminds you of how lucky we are to be alive every day! Warning: have Kleenexes handy!

What are you reading right now? I’m reading Conscious Leadership by John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods. It’s all about how to use qualities like empathy to become a better leader, and it was recommended by our investors at VC firm RealVentures. I’m also reading Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (business books keep my brain wired, so I try to read fiction before bed.) 

What is currently on your to-read list? I just gathered some fiction recommendations from Twitter friends, which included The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid; The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett; Girl, Woman, Other Bernardine Evaristo; This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel; Anxious People by Fredrick Backman; and The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Also, I’m dying to read Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline. I loved Ready Player One, and who doesn’t love a good sequel? For business books, so far my 2021 list includes Good to Great by Jim Collins, The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard, and Traction by Gino Wickman.

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? The three books I always recommend are Venture Deals by Brad Feld (for any entrepreneur who plans to raise funding); The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, which is my favourite business book of all time; and Bad Blood by John Carreyrou, a narrative non-fiction book about the Elizabeth Holmes Theranos scandal. It’s riveting.

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? Type Books across from [Toronto’s Trinity] Bellwoods! I bought my sister a copy of American Dirt from there for Christmas, along with a cat puzzle. You can’t go wrong with a place that sells puzzles and books.

Tip 10: Join a book club

Tip 10: Join a book club

Misha Cazmi

Misha Cazmi

I’m a Toronto-based freelance writer and editor who covers beauty, fashion, and lifestyle, and the founder of 100 ML, a website that looks at travel from a beauty perspective. 

Occupation: Freelance writer and editor

My best advice for reading more books: Become a part of a reading group or book club. Sometimes, that little bit of external motivation is all you need.

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? Last year, I read 40 books but I never want to put pressure on myself, especially considering that we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Instead, I’ve made a list of all the books I really want to read and want to aim for at least three a month. 

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? It’s really hard to narrow down but Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half was incredible—a sweeping, well-written book that tackled issues of race and identity. Because I’m terrible at choosing just one, I’m adding Talia Hibbert’s Take A Hint, Dani Brown because it left me smiling from ear to ear. 

What are you reading right now? I’m in the midst of reading Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade and about to start The Push by Ashley Audrain for my bookclub. I love cookbooks and have been savouring the words, as well as the recipes, in Jikoni by Ravinder Bhogal.

What is currently on your to-read list? I’ve been wanting to read Writers & Lovers by Lily King for a while. Another book I want to tackle this year is Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. And then I have a laundry list of books I’m looking forward to being published this year like Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto, Incense and Sensibility by Sonali Dev, and Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne. 

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? I love recommending romance novels because we could all use a little more joy right now. Books by Talia Hibbert, Helen Hoang, and Mhairi McFarlane are always my top picks.

Rebecca Gill

Rebecca Gill

I’m an award-winning marketer, entrepreneur, and avid reader. At ShopThing, we’re transforming the way people shop and sell through live video commerce. Having taken APAC by storm and hailed the next evolution in e-commerce by Deloitte, we’re bringing this $125 billion gig economy to North America with the help of top-tier retail brands, influencers, and 90,000+ active users.

Occupation: Co-Founder and VP, Marketing; ShopThing

My advice on how to read more: Join a monthly book club. It’s an amazing, scheduled approach to stay accountable.

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? 52 (one a week), half fiction and half non-fiction. 

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. Two words: Page. Turner.

What are you reading right now? Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator. 

What is currently on your to-read list? A Promised Land byBarack Obama; Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon; The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends/network? This Could Be Our Future by Yancey Strickler, Co-Founder of Kickstarter; Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins, a retired Navy Seal and considered the toughest man alive; Trillion Dollar Coach by Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google.

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? Type Books [Toronto]

Kelly Graham

Kelly Graham

I considered myself a professional passport stamp-collector pre-pandemic. Now I stay home and read.

Occupation: Senior Marketing Director, Innovation & Ventures at Labatt/Anheuser-Busch InBev

My best advice on how to read more books: Join a book club (virtual works!) It’ll keep you accountable and also widen your literary horizons. Some of my favourite reads have been book club selections that I never would have chosen for myself.

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? My goal for this year is 52 books. It may be tough to hit if it’s a busy year but it’ll give me a clear idea of how I’m pacing. Also, setting a stretch goal for myself means I’m more likely to choose reading over zoning out on Netflix or scrolling Instagram. 

What was your favourite book that you read in 2020? In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. It’s one of the most unconventional memoirs I’ve ever read. Each chapter takes on a totally different narrative approach. I can’t imagine having read this story any other way.

What are you reading right now? I’m currently reading two books: Hamnet & Judith by Maggie O’Farrell and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari.

What is currently on your to-read list? I already have a super long reading wishlist for 2021! To name a few: Klara & the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro; Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri; The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin; Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends/network? Fracture by Andres Neuman, Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien, and Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood.

Tip 11: Make a list

Tip 11: Make a list

Sara Koonar

Sara Koonar

I am the founder of Platform Media & Management Inc, home to Canada’s top influencer talent. My company helps connect digital storytellers with the world’s leading brands to create engaging, informative, and fun content together. I live in Toronto, with my French bulldog and absolutely love reading. 

Occupation: President, Platform Media and Management Inc. 

My best advice on how to read more books: At the start of each year I begin a list and write down the books I want to read for that year in my iPhone’s notes, and I may add to it as I hear about new books being released or am recommended others. When I finish each book on my list, I checkmark it. That way I can keep track and also feel like I’ve accomplished something each time I get to do so. I like to buy a few books at a time and put them in a pile in my bedroom specifically for unread books, that way when I am done one, I can get started on the next without any lag in between. 

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? Two books a month has always been an achievable goal for me. I typically end each year at around 25 books. However, some books, like for example, Barack Obama’s A Promised Land and Michelle Obama’s Becoming both took me the month as there was so much amazing information, I really wanted to take my time with them. So, I don’t put too much pressure and sometimes will count one really important book as two. Also, literary fiction will take me longer than a juicy romance which I can eat up in two days. 

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? That is a difficult question because I loved books for different reasons. The book that had me underlining and highlighting the most was [Glennon Doyle’s] Untamed. However, the book that brought me joy and was such a fun read was Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. The first book I read in 2020 was The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates and I felt like I was reading a book that will be taught in English classes for decades to come. 

What are you reading right now? The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

What is currently on your to-read list? One by One by Ruth Ware, The Push by Ashley Audrain, The Bridgerton Series!

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett, The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole, The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides.

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? Type Books on Queen West [Toronto], Queen Books on Queen East [Toronto].

Elena Yunosov

Elena Yunosov

I am a marketer, community builder, and strategist with a career that spans emerging technology, the public sector, and journalism. I am currently Head of Marketing at Highline Beta, a VC and corporate venture development firm.

Occupation: Head of Marketing, Highline Beta

My best advice for reading more books: Make a reading wish list. Think about what interests you and where you have gaps you’d like to fill, make a list of two to three books you’d like to read next, and see where they take you.

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? I love to think of reading as a compounding activity: a bit each day goes very far! My goals tend to be daily and weekly goals. 

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? One of my favourite books I read in 2020 has to be Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York by Adam Gopnik. It’s been a tough year, and this book has been a friend in need. Reading it felt like dropping in on a nice dinner in New York and having wonderful conversations with all the smart people in the room, then going for a walk to see the city. I’ve since read most of Adam Gopnik’s books. When I like an author, this is what tends to happen. 

What are you reading right now? Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld. It’s funny. I think I need to “read” it as an audiobook! It’s a treasure. Then there’s Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence [Ajay Agrawal], and From Impossible to Inevitable: How SaaS and Other Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue [Aaron Ross, Jason Lemkin]. I rarely read just one book at a time. 

What is currently on your to-read list? Animorphs series, His Master’s Voice by Stanislaw Lem, and I plan to revisit Asimov’s Foundation series.

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends/network? I’m recommending Gopnik and Prediction Machines to everyone. 

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? I like Ben McNally Books, Another Story in Roncesvalles, and Type Books, but there are many more great bookstores in Roncesvalles, Junction, on College and elsewhere in Toronto.

Tip 12: Read reviews

Tip 12: Read reviews

Steven Lee

Steven Lee

I was born in Toronto but grew up in Mauritius (an Island on the southeast coast of Africa) and came back to Toronto for university purposes in 2007. I am a graphic designer and photographer with a background in fashion and hospitality. As a child, reading was always something that my mom encouraged, so I was always surrounded by books. 

Occupation: Graphic designer and photographer

My best advice on reading more books:  Look at reviews before buying a book. Again, Goodreads is an amazing app for that, as they have a great community of readers. [It also allows you] to keep track of your books, see reviews, rate your books and keep a list of books you want to read. I try to only purchase books that get more than 3.5 stars; anything with 4+ stars is a must-read.

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? My goal for 2020 was 35, so I’ve increased my 2021 goal to 40. There isn’t really any logic behind the number, and I do not put too much stress on myself on accomplishing that goal. It’s just something fun to keep track of.

What was your favourite book that you read in 2020? Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. It’s just a beautiful book, extremely well-written, and soon to be adapted for a film.

What are you reading right now? Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. It’s a classic and when I was buying the book, the salesperson told me that he wished he could read James Baldwin again for the very first time. If that’s not the best recommendation for a book…

What is currently on your to-read list? I buy books like some people bought toilet paper during the lockdown. I always have a stack at home waiting to be read. Currently on my list: The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai, The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper, How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones, Greenwood by Michael Christie, Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker.

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, Educated by Tara Westover, Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, The Song of Achilles and Circe by Madeline Miller, The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, Missing From The Village by Justin Ling, Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano. They’re all incredibly well-written and I highly recommend them!

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? Sadly there aren’t a lot of options for independent bookstores in Toronto, and I really wish there were more, especially in my area (Yonge and Sheppard.) I always stop at Type when I’m in the Trinity Bellwoods area and love checking out what they have.

Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller

I am a 30-year-old Toronto native that has worked in the sports industry for six years. My hobbies include long-distance running, photography, and reading.

Occupation: Sports media rights sales executive

My best advice for reading more books: Find out which topics you’re most interested in learning more about and look up the authors who discuss these topics. Also, ask friends for recommendations. 

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? I would say my goal has shifted from quantitative to qualitative. I have had goals in the past to read a book a week, but I found that the pressure of completing books didn’t allow me to enjoy them. I am now looking at books that are more for entertainment purposes. It’s not really a goal in the traditional sense, but my overall goal this year is to reduce my screen usage, and I have found books to be a perfect medium for entertainment outside of sports and tv shows.

What was your favourite book that you read in 2020? Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell. He is far and away, my favourite author. I like his books because he has the adept ability to draw connections from seemingly random or obscure subjects. A lot of my professional work and personal life is centered around communication with people, so being challenged to look at things through a different lens has helped me in countless ways.

What are you reading right now? The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead 

What is currently on your to-read list? All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire by Jonathan Abrahams, Black Leopard, Red Wolf  by Marlon James, But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman, Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up by Tom Phillips, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap.. And Other Don’t by Jim Collins, Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict. 

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg, The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons, Everything Is F*cked by Mark Manson.

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? BMV Books. They always have great prices on used books and each store offers something different.

Tip 13: Try a new time

Tip 13: Try a new time

Anita Matte

Anita Matte

I am a multi-faceted marketing and communications professional specializing in large-scale integrated campaigns for major global brands. When I am not working, I am doing pilates, out with my adorable dogs, or enjoying a good book and a cup of tea.  

Occupation: Marketing and communications professional 

My best advice on how to read more: Instead of reading at night when you are tired, read in the morning, even if it is just for 10-15 minutes. Reading in the morning when you are more alert allows you to retain more information and starts your day off on a more inspired and motivated note. 

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? My goal is to read at least two books per month, with most of these books being non-fiction. It is essential for me to learn and grow consistently. Additionally, reading is a stress reliever, which makes it a great addition to my daily self-care routine. 

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday! This book contains meditations on the art of living, one for each day of the year. I love starting my day off with wisdom from Stoics, and this is a book that I will continue to read daily for years to come. 

What are you reading right now? The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. I re-read this every few years. 

What is currently on your to-read list? Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron, The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz, Intimations by Zadie Smith, Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? Untamed by Glennon Doyle, Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? Type Books [Toronto] has the best selection and friendly, helpful staff!

Tip 14: Set a goal

Tip 14: Set a goal

Shafin Tejani

Shafin Tejani

I’m a serial entrepreneur and investor with a knack for spotting tech trends early and bringing the right talent together to solve real problems. As the CEO of Victory Square Technologies (VST), I’ve developed a unique venture-build model to support startup growth—offering expertise and leadership, not just funding, to unlock value and generate revenue. VST’s current portfolio consists of approximately a dozen companies at the cutting-edge of innovation, with a focus on AI, VR/AR, blockchain, and health technologies.

Occupation: CEO, Victory Square Technologies

My best advice on how to read more books: Set reading goals. I set a goal to read a minimum of a chapter a day.

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? Reading is something I enjoy, it relaxes me. I also read to expand my imagination and to learn new things that might be valuable both personally and professionally. So, I don’t really have a tactical approach to reading.

The only quantitative goal is a reading challenge that I have with my kids during their summer break. We set daily, weekly, and monthly goals around the number of pages read. But the goal isn’t only to track the number of pages they read. I have them explain what they read to me to ensure they understand what they’re reading and learn to articulate it.

What is your favourite book that you read in 2020? The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb. I had actually read the book during the 08/09 financial crisis, but re-read it when the pandemic hit in early 2020. I’m big on mindset and decision-making, and from when I originally read the book in 2008, two ideas that have always stuck with me: The idea of “robustness” to negative events (i.e. not just resilience but the ability to turn challenges into opportunities) and how negative events depend on the observer. [Taleb] used the example: “What may be a Black Swan surprise for a turkey is not a Black Swan surprise for its butcher. Hence the objective should be to ‘avoid being the turkey,’ by identifying areas of vulnerability in order to ‘turn the Black Swans white.’”

Reminding myself of these two ideas really helped my mindset, decision-making, planning, and actions in 2020.

What are you reading right now? Every Conversation Counts by Riaz Meghji. He is a good friend and just dropped his new book. I remember him telling me about the idea behind the book years ago when we would carpool to our ball hockey games. I’m so stoked to see him officially drop the book and just started reading it.

What is currently on your to-read list? These two are next on deck: The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success by William N. Thorndike and Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Taleb.

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight.

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? I’m a public library, Indigo, Amazon, or Audible kind of person. 

Selena Romero

Selena Romero

I am currently looking after the digital side of Bay Street Bull, where I’m lucky enough to tell the inspiring stories of Canadian entrepreneurs every day. When I’m not reading or writing, you can find me trying to create the perfect oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Occupation: Digital Editor, Bay Street Bull

My best advice on how to read more books: I saw an influencer do this so it is by no means my own idea, but she suggested placing a sticky note a few pages into your book and continuously moving it to use it as a goal to reach. That way, you always have a clear goal and feel like you’re making progress!

Do you have any reading goals for 2021? I’d like to get back into reading fictional books. I read a lot of fiction while growing up, but the last few years I’ve been more focused on non-fiction books that can help better myself or my career. I would like to get back into reading for leisure, not just learning. Diving into fictional worlds can be great—especially since I’m stuck staring at the same four walls every day!

What was your favourite book that you read in 2021? Atomic Habits by James Clear. It breaks down how to make create small habits in your everyday life that can compound into a more substantial change. With being stuck at home for most of 2020, it was a good source of inspiration for seeking small ways to improve my overall happiness, productivity, and well-being.

What are you reading right now? Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

What is currently on your to-read list? Educated by Tara Westover

Which book(s) are you currently recommending to your friends? Principles by Ray Dalio

What is your favourite local or independent bookstore(s)? I moved back to my hometown, Guelph, Ont. in the middle of the pandemic. We’re lucky to have a fantastic bookstore in our downtown core, The Bookshelf.

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