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Reading wisdom from a bibliophile

Why do you want to read?

Before you start or stop doing anything, you should be very clear about the reason behind it. Knowing your WHY will keep you motivated when things get difficult.

Let’s come back to reading. If you are a student and have an assigned reading list, then that pretty much specifies why you want to read. If you are not a student and want to read more, then most likely you either want to read for entertainment or you want to read to learn something.

There are some points to remember in each case to make sure you have a wholesome reading experience.

Reading for entertainment

The only books you need to read are the books you actually enjoy reading. Remember that you are reading for fun and not to impress someone else. In case you start reading a book and do not like it for whatever reason, just move on to a different book. It’s OK to break up with a book. You won’t hurt the book’s feelings. In fact, the book will wait around for you in case you want to come back to it after several years.

Staying with a book you don’t love anymore will eventually kill your love to read. Don’t do that. Your love for reading is more important than any book ever written.

Many people never find their love for reading because they never find the right book. I believe everyone is a reader. They just haven’t come across the right book yet.

As we grow, our taste and preferences change. The books we love today might seem too silly 10 years down the line. The book that you just couldn’t read beyond the first 50 pages last year may become your favourite read in 20 years.

So, remember that you are free to read any book you like. Take recommendations from others. Check out various book lists. Explore different genres. But accept the fact that you won’t be able to read all the wonderful books ever written. Just read what you can. And don’t forget to have fun.

Reading to learn

When we read to learn, we usually read non-fiction books. It’s not to say that we don’t learn from fiction books. But if we are reading fiction books specifically to learn something from them, we need to read them a little more seriously and with a lot more focus than we usually use for fiction books.

The most important thing to do while reading to learn is to interact with the book as much as you can. This means taking notes, this means highlighting, this means reading slowly and spending time with the material. This also means reading and re-reading the books over and over again.

Book recommendations work better for these kinds of books. If you are reading to learn a specific topic, chances are that the book you are reading will have reference to additional reading material. At the same time, there are very specific must-read books for practically every topic one wishes to learn. In this case, it’s a good idea to be diligent and stick to a recommended reading list.

Additional Points to Remember

Speed Reading

Reading is not a race. I am strongly against any techniques/tips/tricks teaching us to read faster. Reading speed doesn’t work like that. Every book has a different pace. My reading speed for the tenth re-read of Harry Potter won’t be the same as my first read of Atlas Shrugged. And for someone else, the situation would be reversed.

I have read many speed reading books and articles and I have tried their techniques. But those techniques might help me finish a book faster but they don’t help me learn better or get more entertainment. So what’s the point to read faster?

I would rather encourage you to enjoy and learn from anything you read.

Book Summaries

Well, book summaries are not a substitute for reading the full books. But they do serve a purpose. They can act as a quick reference guide for the books you have already read. Also, make sure to either choose a book summary that does justice to the book or better yet, write your own book summary.

The notes you take while reading a book will be the best book summary you can find.

Conclusion

Reading is a very personal experience. You can share your love of reading with others. But everyone’s experience will be very different. You may love a book everyone else hates or you may end up hating a very popular book. And that’s the wonder of reading.

Reading is not a competition. Don’t compare your bookshelf with others. Don’t compare your reading choice or reading speed with others.

Just read and have fun…

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