I haven’t always liked to read. But last year, I realized something.
I haven’t always liked to read. Sure, I would read books when I was a kid, but often they were assigned for school. I enjoyed some, but most of them weren’t my cup of tea.
haven’t always liked to read. Sure, I would read books when I was a kid, but often they were assigned for school. I enjoyed some, but most of them weren’t my cup of tea.
In high school, I hated reading…and it seemed like all of my assignments centered around reading. I remember reading Crime and Punishment for my sophomore English class, thinking to myself, “What crime have I committed to deserve this punishment?”
Fast forward again to college, and — you guessed it — even more reading. The reading was slightly better this time around: at least the majority of my reading was related to my major, business and economics.
Sure, some of it was dull — painfully dull — but overall, I was interested in the subject, and so I read, somewhat begrudgingly. But give me another way to spend my time, and I would never choose a book.
I think it took a while for me to recover from the mandatory reading that was thrust upon me in high school and college. For the first few years after college, I read next to nothing. For many post-graduate Millennials like me, that’s the case (except for the English majors who seem to always have a book in their hands).
Things are different today. In the Fall of 2017, I began reading more, and as I read more, I started to enjoy it more. When you look back at my previous reading habits and compare them to where I am today, two questions emerge:
Why do you love reading so much?
Why are you reading so much nowadays?
Why I love reading so much
Towards the end of last year, I began reading more — not long books, but mostly articles and blog posts (hey it was a start).
And as I did, I came across an interesting idea: virtually any experience, any idea, and thought I’ve ever had has likely been had before by someone else…and chances are, the lessons learned are written down somewhere.
Otto van Bismarck once said, “Fools learn from experience. I prefer to learn from the experience of others.”
I love that. Why on earth would I take my problems, challenges, and ideas in isolation, when I can turn to the wisdom and experience of others, recorded on pages?
Especially when there are a plethora of books available online for under $10, why on earth wouldn’t I pull out my credit card and literally buy knowledge? It’s the cheapest investment I could ever make.
Humans have been telling stories since day one. With the advent of the printing press in the 1400s, the written word grew exponentially. Add the Internet, blogging, eBooks, and self-publishing on Amazon into the mix, and we’ve never had this volume of information before in human history.
There’s tons of data out there (and tons of noise among it, but that’s another story for another time). As estimated by UNESCO, over 830,000 books have already been published worldwide in 2018. To think that none of them contain anything useful or applicable to my life is to delude myself.
So why do I love reading so much now? I’ve always loved learning… and there’s just so much to learn.
Why do I read so much?
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve averaged about a book a week (slightly lower). We’re 17 weeks into 2018, and I’ve read 16 books.
Some of those books took me weeks to read. Others, I read on a lazy Saturday afternoon. But overall, I’ve averaged about a book a week.
Some might call this too ambitious, but it’s a healthy pace for me. About an hour of reading per day gets the job done. Some of these books were excellent, others average. Some were a bit too self-promotional for my taste, while others were well-rounded and balanced. Many were data-focused and statistical; others were biographies or histories. Some were a breeze to read, others more of a challenge. And I loved every second of it.
So why do I read so much? There are four primary reasons:
1. I read to learn.
As I noted above, the whole of collective human history is written down, and there are so many lessons to learn from it. By no means do I think that this is the only — or most effective — way to learn, but it works for me. And so I read.
2. I read to broaden my horizons, to be a more interesting person.
I don’t want to be that person who is only capable of discussing their job or the weather. I want to have informed opinions about things that matter — both in current events and items of historical significance. On important topics. On controversial issues. I want to know why things are the way that they are. I want to know why things work. Challenging as it might be, I want to encounter the viewpoints and opinions of people whose views vary dramatically from mine — not so I can debate, but so I can have a better understanding of why I believe what I believe. As Charlie Munger, billionaire and famed business partner of Warren Buffett once said, “I’ll never debate with someone unless I know their argument twice as well as they do.” Reading helps me broaden my horizons, come into contact with opposing viewpoints that challenge my beliefs, and overall, makes me a more interesting person. And so I read.
3. I read to connect ideas and concepts in my mind.
I attended a liberal arts college, where the connection of ideas and concepts across different disciplines, the interconnectedness of nearly everything is a concept you encounter at every turn. There’s no escaping it.
Beyond the Trivium and Quadrivium of traditional academic life, there’s a lot to be learned from the practice of connecting ideas across different spheres of life and business. Many successful people attribute their success in business and life to being able to think in mental models, simple heuristics and mental frameworks that help us process the world. These frameworks are based upon the interconnectedness of ideas, concepts, and principles that help us understand the world around us. Reading is perhaps one of the best ways to form these connections. And so I read.
4. I read to become a better writer
And finally, my reading has one real aim: to help me become a better writer. It is by reading that we are exposed not just to many ideas, but to many styles of writing. It is by reading words that challenge us that we grow as writers ourselves. It is by broadening our horizons and connecting ideas in our minds that we can expand our skills and writing repertoire. It is by reading that we are able to form and hone our opinions about the world and become more effective in sharing them with the world. And so I read.
I believe being well-read is vitally important to improving your skills, abilities, knowledge, and overall well-being.
And so I read.
What’s your favorite way to read? Have you set a reading goal for 2018?
I’d love to hear about it!