I have a confession to make. Ever since I was really young I never really enjoyed reading.

Early on I tried to read Homer's Iliad, Beowulf, many of Shakespear's works and the like. My parents were just like that, classic education and all that.

I didn't understand them; allegory and symbolism were lost on me and I felt like those books were simply laughing at my simple mind.

My love of reading and writing has been a roller coaster over the years. For instance, when I was doing research for my book Nerd Life Balance I couldn't put books down but when the project was finished I lost the drive again.

Recently I've been talking about doing a new writing project with a good friend and we've had some road blocks getting kick started.

I have found that when inspiration or creativity wanes it is because I have been neglecting my reading muscles. So in the interest of electrifying my mind, I have created a little game that I wanted to share. It is simple and it has one purpose with many side effects. I call it The reading torrent. The rules follow.

Number of players

1 (but extends and is influenced by the primary player's social circle)

Purpose

To get the player reading and enjoying books (books that the player may or may not normally read) in a regular cadence.

How to win

Fill up the second shelf (see below) with the books that you have read end to end.

The game pieces:

  • The player some one who is willing to put some effort into growing as in individual
  • Books, lots of them (the player can start with one). In this game, it is ideal to use physical books because they will help you know when you have "won."
  • 2 empty shelves in a book case (or something like it with a finite width where books can be placed)
  • Some method of social sharing or interaction (this is how the player will share what they read or get more book ideas to read)

Setup:

  1. Start by wiping out games and apps of mass distraction from your mobile devices (even social apps). This will be physically painful at first but you can do it!
  2. Clear off the two shelves in your book case
  3. Now delete all of the other apps on your mobile device that you should've removed in step 1.
  4. Gather any book in your current workspace or home where you have said "I need to / I'd like to read this" within the past year.
    • Note: if you are a curmudgeon and have either never heard of books or never actually owned one, head over to Amazon, pick up Nerd Life Balance for free, have a look at some of my favorites, or just ask a friend.
  5. Take all of those books and put them on the top shelf that you cleared off.
    • Note: You may not have more books than the maximum number of books that can fit on the first shelf.
  6. Choose your first book out of the collection.
  7. Set a reasonable time goal for yourself to finish each book. We set this goal because you cannot hit a target if you don't know where to aim.
    • Ex. My game goal is one book per week.
  8. Begin playing

How to play:

The player's turn consists of 5 different phases: Read, Share, Shelve, Restock, and Draw

Read

The player begins by reading a book that is on the first shelf.

Note: The second shelf should be empty right now.

The player replaces tv watching, video games, mobile distraction time with reading this book (see you didn't even have to give up sleep!).

Note: This might really be painful for some, so factor that into your goal time - I recommend going all in though, but that's my personality.

During the read phase, make a point to share any interesting perspectives with friends, family, your dog or anyone who might listen - you'll be amazed at some of the responses and you'll find that they will almost always have a book to share with you.

Share

When you complete the book the player must share their thoughts on a social platform, this can be in person, on facebook or twitter, or even in a blog post. This is the one exception to the social media blackout imposed by the rules in Setup

(I recommend keeping this simple initially otherwise you might just decide to give up)

Use #readingtorrent to connect with other players

share what you read

Shelve

Take the book you just finished and move it to the second shelf.

This shelf is a special stack that other individual players or non-players can draw from.

Ex. You and your spouse are playing The reading torrent. You go on and on about Ready Player One to your spouse while reading it. When the book hits your second shelf then anyone who sees that shelf or asks about a given book on the second shelf may take it and read it.

Since players win by filling the second shelf this can be used as a strategy for other players to connect over both a great book and a little friendly competition.

Restock

This is an evaluation stage. You can either choose a book from another individual player's shelf or if at any point while you were reading the book you just shelved someone suggested a book then obtain that book and place it on the first shelf.

Draw

The player now chooses the next book they will read and the next turn begins.

Ending the game

If the game was played well then it might never end. But as stated above once the second shelf is filled with the books that you have read end to end you "win."

The prize: a wealth of knowledge, many good memories, new friends and possibly many other side effects - results may vary.