Why Do I Read So Much?

My objective for this year is to read 52 books. The reason I’m saying this is to keep myself accountable, and to also try and inspire you to read a little more. I’ll post a list of all the books I’ve read at the end of the year with some insightful recommendations.

But why do I seem to want to read so much in the first place? Is there more to it than just expanding my English vocabulary and comprehension? Perhaps. In fact, I think I may be addicted to learning. I’ve spoken before about how to read more, but let’s unwrap why I read in the first place.

I’ll talk about how reading is similar to going to the gym, utilizing a growth mindset, how reading enables leaders, turning knowledge into power and using it to get better at academics.

Going to the gym for your brain

I love exercising. It’s a way for me to keep my physical health in check. I also get invigorated when I start pushing past my previous limits. There’s a similar feeling that I get when I read books. I like to think of reading as exercise for the brain. You have to constantly push past certain limits and absorb information rapidly.

You should also approach it in a similar way to physical exercise. Start small, get used to it, stay consistent and then slowly push yourself. The last thing you want to do is get overwhelmed because you decided to read a full book in 2 days, and then give up after 3 pages.

I like to think of myself getting smarter after every page that I read – to try and embrace a growth mindset.

Growth mindset

Let’s talk about neuroplasticity again! I read so much because I understand the effect it has on my brain. It’s a way for me to strengthen certain neural pathways and make the process of comprehending, digesting and analysing information a lot more efficient.

When you believe that something is truly useful to you (and you’ve experienced it first hand), it gets hard to stop. It almost doesn’t make sense to. The same applies when you believe that you can get better at something through putting in practice. All you have to do is keep trying, in order to grow.

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Understand that where you are now is just part of the journey. You can get better. You can get smarter. You can get stronger. Just keep on learning.

Leaders are readers

Another reason why I read so much is because I know that it helps me understand the world better. Fiction allows me to become more creative, empathetic and understanding, as it forces me to think from different people’s point of view. Non-fiction allows me to grow, make sense of myself and to learn about how things work.

That being said, the quote ‘leaders are readers’ comes to mind. To try and understand the reason behind this, I thought about how effective leaders need to have a vast array of knowledge. This would be vital to taking charge and moving teams towards a common objective.

Reading (from a diversified set of genres) equips you with the skills and knowledge that is required to positively impact the world and bring about change. You gain confidence, depth and understanding, which catalyzes your ability to solve problems.

Knowledge is power (when you put it to action)

There’s a misconception when it comes to the phrase ‘Knowledge is power’. That is because it’s relatively easy to acquire knowledge, we do it all the time. What’s difficult is actually applying that knowledge and taking action based on it. That is where true power lies.

To try and actually gain some power out of my readings, I firstly engage actively with the content. This comes in the form of highlighting, taking notes or writing book summaries. Once I’ve extracted the key pieces of information, I try to reflect on it and see how I can apply it into my life. Another really useful technique is to try and explain the concept that I’ve learned to other people. This allows me to spread beneficial knowledge and solidify the information in my mind.

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Helps with academics

Something that has been incredibly beneficial to me from a reading stand point is the ability to perform well in my academics. Like I’ve already mentioned, reading enables you to browse through large pieces of information and pin-point the most relevant and important aspects.

When it comes to reading academic literature, this skillset is incredibly valuable. Not only to get through the documents more efficiently, but also to extract what’s valuable for the reports and assignments in a short period of time.

It’s a skill that can be developed. It wasn’t something that I was always good at, but it’s something I continuously worked on, bit by bit, until I got better at it. It’s the result of incorporating a growth mindset.

A snippet of some books that I’ve read last year

So I hope I managed to answer the question ‘Why do I read so much?’. It’s truly liberating and can be used as an incredibly productive form of distraction. Remember that everything needs to be done in moderation.

Think of reading like going to the gym for your brain, incorporate a growth mindset to learn as much as you can, remember that leaders are readers, that knowledge put to action is power and that it can also help you academically.

Please share some of your favourite books in the comments and feel free to reach out to me should you want any recommendations. Happy reading!

Tips to read more this year

Would you like to be able to read 1 book a week? Do you feel like you could be reading more? Is reading a habit you’ve been trying to implement? Why do we sometimes struggle to finish books that we’re so keen to read?

My objective in this post is to motivate you to read more books and read faster. I’ll discuss a few simple strategies to help get the ball rolling. I’ll also talk about the benefits of reading and how to read faster.

Start with why

Your intentions are the driving force behind your behaviours. Starting with why allows you to put those intentions in perspective. Why do you want to read?

To gain knowledge and to share that knowledge with the world. To get smarter, more efficient & more productive. That’s what I see as the reason for reading. A critical question that I also ask myself is:

Who will this knowledge serve?
Ultimately, we don’t just gain knowledge for our own benefit. We use it to serve the world around us.

What are the benefits of reading?

How can I read more?

I’ll talk about this from my own point of view, as to what has been working for me. My objective for reading is to finish at least 4 books a month; 1 book a week.

It doesn’t just come naturally come to me. I sometimes find it difficult to sit down and read every day. I barely spent any time reading in school either, in fact I dreaded English.

I started a few years ago, reading roughly 1 book every 3 months. But action causes motivation as much as motivation causes action. (Don’t wait until you’re in the mood!) So I started reading more and more until I went from 1 book a month to 1 book a week. Here’s the strategy I now use (thanks to Jim Kwik):

  1. Write it down on your to-do list (stay consistent).
  2. Divide the total number of pages by the amount of days you aim to finish it by.
  3. Further divide the average number of pages by 3: giving you 3 sessions to read per day.

For example if I’m reading a 315 page book that I’d like to finish in 7 days, divide 315/7= 45 pages per day. To make that even simpler and read it over 3 sessions, divide 45/3= 15 pages per session.

Each reading session takes around 20 minutes, which makes it far more manageable than sitting down for an entire hour. I have a session in the morning, afternoon and evening to meet my daily reading requirements. Find what works best for you and stay consistent with it.

How can I read faster?

Avoid a concept called subvocalization. You can read faster than you can speak, therefore reducing this habit will allow you to improve your reading speed.

Subvocalization: “This occurs when you mouth or silently say words to yourself as you read them.”

To reduce subvocalization, count silently to yourself or hum as you read. This will prevent you from from saying the words as you read them.

Another trick I use to retain the information is to take notes. I usually write down the most important concepts or insightful quotes in a small journal, to keep the wisdom with me. The teacher always learns the most, so remember to also explain what you learn with friends and family.

Another very motivating reason for me to read is because it was the first verse brought down in the Quran. This emphasizes the importance of reading and attaining knowledge.

I’ve hopefully managed to convince you to start reading or to at least read a little more. Remember to always start with why and keep your intentions clear.

There are several benefits to reading: it sharpens your mind, lowers your stress, enhances your imagination and fosters empathy. Use a strategy to get more reading done and avoid subvocalization.

Happy reading! May the year ahead be filled with books, libraries, nature, adventures and joy. Stay present my friends. Now is all you have.

Some of the books that I’ve read which I highly recommend.