I was never an avid reader. Even calling myself a casual reader would be an exaggeration.. I just wasn’t into reading.
I somehow managed to go through school without reading a single book. No clue how I did it, but I did. And it worked out pretty well.
And then it happened … I got myself victim of all the ad bullshit that we’re being spoon-fed. “Stop working for others”, they said. “Be your own boss”, they said. “Stop working your ass off, so that your boss can drive a Ferrari”, they said. Become an entrepreneur and gain back your freedom!
And what do all the successful people do? They read, of course! 52 books per year; at least! Hell yeah!
It did have a positive effect though. It was 2012 and I got myself a Kindle (an e-book reader; highly recommended!).
First book? “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses“. Cheesy, right?
Reading for the sake of reading (and bullshitting about it)
This is unfortunate, but I didn’t realize it until recently. Pretty much most of my reading was focused on reading just for the sake of doing so.
I read some article that said that you have to be reading AT LEAST 20 pages per day, and being a good follower that I am, I obliged. I was reading 20 pages every night before I went to bed.
There was one funny instance which I clearly remember. I was reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (highly recommended read BTW). I finished the book and I had that feeling of satisfaction as I was able to add +1 to list of books that I read.
“How did you like the book?” asked a friend who recommended it. “I loved it! It was a real page-turner!”, I answered. “Great! What do you think about ________ and _________ ? How did you like those parts?”. I’ll be honest. I literally had no clue what he was talking about. Are we talking about the same book? Sapiens? It sounded like it for sure. But I have no recollection of even reading that. WTF?
That hit me hard. I realized that after 6 years of being an “avid reader”, I had no clue what I read in most of those books. Like, literally no freakin’ clue.
I was reading for the sake of reading and bullshitting about it!
It was time for a change. Even being heavily goal-oriented as I am, I decided to make shift. I’ll stop reading for the sake of turning the pages, and, instead, try putting more focus on WHAT I was reading. If I felt like reading two pages and shutting the book down, so be it!
Funny enough, this idea of SLOWING DOWN actually resulted in reading MORE than I would ever anticipate. According to Goodreads, I read 16 books in 2019th. This was more than I EVER read.
And then it happened.
You know how it works when you turn one small cog, and you don’t even realize that you actually started a whole machinery? That small step was small only on outwards. Inwards – the engine was warming up!
Everything I Knew About Reading Was Wrong
As I was gaining more confidence from reading (and starting to enjoy it), I was somehow figuring that it’s probably time to pimp up my game. It was time to go for some heavy artillery. Crime and Punishment (in it’s literal sense!) baby. It was Dostoyevsky o’clock!
Even thinking about it makes me laugh. I hated this book so much! Mostly because I couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. I despised it!
But I was determined to finish it. You don’t drop a book half-way! It’s a book and a damn classic, for fucks sake!
I spent MONTHS fighting this book. It came to a point where even thinking about it would make me nauseous. And yet, I couldn’t start another book before I had this one finished. It’s a a BOOK for cripes sake! A damn classic!
Luckily, like it was sent from heavens, the article that would completely blow my mind and change my reading habits happened. I stumbled upon (and read in a single breath) a blog post called Everything I knew about reading was wrong.
Mind = blown.
Even though I wholeheartedly recommend reading the original, do be warned that it’s quite lengthy. And I will summarize it here for you.
It’s OK to read more than one book at a time
Sounds simple, right? Just read more books in parallel.
I saw it as heresy! Unwritten 11th deadly sin! The reader’s treason!
Hell, was I wrong, LOL …
I deeply believed that even thinking about reading more than one book at once would completely mess up everything. Like, I’d get overlapping stories and completely screw everything up. Obviously, I pondered this while having 150 Chrome tabs open, reading dozens of blog posts in fragments and checking tons of notifications on social networks. And yet, reading two books would completely mess my head up.
Let me put it as straight as possible here. It is absolutely OK to read more than one book at once. What’s more, it’s a preferred way of doing it!
There’s some logic behind it really. Some books are made to be read fast. Some are made to be read as a slow burn. Some you don’t even feel like reading today. And that’s all OK!
By giving yourself permission to read more than one book at a time, you are actually freeing up that mental space to read whatever you feel like reading at the time, and that results in reading EVEN MORE!
Just check my reading stats since then:
It’s OK to drop a book that you don’t like
Let me give you some stats that will blow you away.
Let’s assume that you are just starting to read when you are 25. And you manage to actively read until you are 75. That’s 50 years.
If you are doing average of 10 books per year, you will manage to do only 500 books! Yes, that’s for a lifetime!
Got my point? Just like you stop reading a blog post you dislike, it’s absolutely OK to drop a book that’s not “doing you” either! Save yourself some time and just read whatever you feel like reading. Your capacity is highly limited!
You don’t have to enjoy popular books
There’s this false belief that you should be enjoying what others liked as well. Yuck!
I was confused and bored by Fahrenheit 451 to the point that I didn’t even feel like posting a rating for it!
On the other hand, I do use recommendations as a source of narrowing down books that I’m going to read. Use it selectively and wisely!
Classics will call you when you are ready for them
This was also a misbelief that I had. I thought that a book that’s considered a “classic” is something that’s likeable by everyone.
No. Just … no.
The thing that I eventually learned about classics is that they will come to you. They will call you when you are ready for them.
Taking Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment as an example, from my understanding (and do take this with a grain of salt), it is all about exploring human emotions. Guilt. Desperation. Fear. Regret.
And yet, at the time when I started reading it, I didn’t give a damn about that. I picked it up because it sounded like a cool thing to read.
On the other hand, I read Kafka’s The Trial at the time when I was feeling a bit stuck and depressed, and it just blew me away! I loved it! I’ll probably re-read it again!
My point being, when it comes to classics, don’t rush to them, but let them come towards you. You will know when you are ready.
It’s your turn now. Think of the books that you always wanted to read but you kept putting them away because you were stuck. Explore your library. Start reading multiple books! Immerse yourself and enjoy the journey!
As usual, here are some resources that you might find useful:
- Goodreads – it’s kind of a social network for readers. I use it primarily for exploring and keeping track of what I want to read. Feel free to befriend me there if you wish!
- Reddit’s /r/suggestmeabook – a really cool place to browse for books as well. Sometimes I browse through simply for the sake of seeing the range of topics that other people are reading about. And it’s impressive!
- Read What You Love Until You Love to Read by Naval Ravikant — Naval is just an amazing source of inspiration for many people. Among other things, he was a huge source of inspiration for the article above.
- Everything I Knew About Reading Was Wrong — article that I’ve mentioned number of times throughout this post. It’s a bit lengthy but definitely worth giving it a shot
- You are never too old to start reading! As the popular Chinese proverb says: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”
- You should read more than one book at once. This allows you to immerse yourself in whatever your current mood and energy levels are up for.
- It’s ok to drop the book you don’t like. You have very limited time and amount of stuff that you can read. Choose wisely!
- You don’t have to like popular books. No book is suited for everybody. Read whatever you feel like reading.
- Skip classics if you are new to reading. You have to develop your reading skills first. You will know when you are ready for them!
If you liked this article, you might also like:
- Art of Starting Things
- Art of Sustaining at Things
- I’m as anxious as you are; I just choose to do it
- It’s OK that you’re feeling down
- Do something that you suck at
- We all come with a bucket of sh*t
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