‘Reading’ is overrated. Pick any self-help sort of book/article/blog and there is a high probability that you will get the age-old advice that ‘you should read more’ in one form or another. Even worse, the self-proclaimed life/career coaches are blogging the hell out of the internet with posts like ‘How reading 100 books a year transformed my life’. Not to mention the blogs on how to read one book a day or how to read faster. Seriously? Since when has ‘reading’ become a number game?
You can get me wrong and I would not really mind. By no means am I against ‘reading more’. But the points I want to point out here –
Not all books are equal (and good)
I will even argue that reading misinformed books are worse (and more dangerous) than NOT reading at all. The technology, with the promise of giving us an ‘informed society’ in reality delivered us a ‘misinformed society’. So, it’s very easy to pick up the wrong type of book due to their abundance in availability and totally get brain washed. So, just advising someone to read more is not enough anymore today, you need to be more precise about the type of books s/he should read more. Even better, give some recommendations.
Tip: In our busy life, time-wise reading a book is a significant investment. So, before starting a new book, read the reviews. Do some research on the author’s background. Do not waste your precious time.
If you find a good book, don’t just read it, study it
Remember the textbooks in our school life? We used to read a handful number of books throughout the year/semester. We used to read them over and over, even memorize parts of it. In other words, we studied them. And now, we buy a best-selling book (which apparently changed a lot of people’s lives) with the hope that finally we have found THE book which will solve our life crisis, then we just read it once and wait. And nothing happens. After reading a book if we realize this book has potential to teach us something significant in life, then we should read it again (and again) and study it, just like a textbook.
The case for reading for pleasure
You might say, look, I do not always read for learning, sometimes I read just for the pleasure of it. Good point. I would say, still you can read it slowly and read it again. All of us find ourselves in situations where we read a novel a long time ago, really loved it but now cannot even recall the name of the central character. There is absolutely no shame in that. The human brain is devised that way. We read it for momentary pleasure and that means that now we can read it again and get a pleasant experience again.
My personal case for reading only TWO books for the remaining of 2018
In 2017, I read some of the best books of my life. But regrettably, although I am still awestruck by the books I recently read, the information and ideas I consumed from those books have already started fading away from my brain. Before these ideas and information vanish from by memory, I am going to revisit two of the best books I read last year and study them in detail. With a full time job and a one year old kid at home, I hope this goal will be quite realistic if not an effective one. If you wonder what those two books are –
1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
2. Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet by Karen Armstrong