Don’t Stop, Reading

I was showering one day, and a bunch of ideas about the benefits of reading popped into my mind, which I thought would be useful to share. I’ve been a little neglectful in my reading this year (comparatively speaking), and as usual, I was starting to wonder what was the point of reading. Again, I was reflecting on the WHY.

Turns out there’s a lot more to reading than just telling people how much you’ve read. Your mental prowess is strengthened through the acquisition of knowledge (you get to learn sophisticated new words), your creativity expands profusely, and your ability to empathize is augmented.

Sounds cool right? Let’s get into it.

Acquisition of knowledge

This is arguably the most straightforward benefit and reason why people read. To acquire knowledge. Whether you’re reading from a textbook to prepare for an exam, reading an article on the Top 3 Benefits of Reading, reading an interesting post on Instagram, reading religious text for your spirituality or reading an ordinary non-fiction book, at the heart of it lies the acquisition of knowledge.

Whatever you read, whether you’re conscious of it or not, has an impact on your knowledge. Your mental prowess is arguably your greatest asset as well. You need to continuously invest in it so that it can continue to grow.

The remarkable thing is that the first Qur’anic verse or word revelated to the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was “Read!”.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/384987468119596207/

As I’m starting to remember that, the more motivated I’m becoming to continue reading. It can become less of a burden, and more of a priority.

Expansion of creativity

In addition to the knowledge that you gain, reading enhances your ability to think beyond your current mental limitations. The more you’re exposed to and engage with newer, abstract and unique concepts, the more creative you can become.

I always find it invigorating when I’m able to push my own boundaries because of something I read in a non-fiction book. When I read about self-development, what has been done by others or theories about the future, it enables me to also push beyond what I currently believe is possible within myself.

Limitless by Jim Kwik

Additionally, unlike in a movies, fictional books also force you to use your imagination to picture the story you’re reading. I currently don’t put too much effort in being imaginative, but it’s definitely something I’m working on. The more you mentally engage with the stories, the more creative you can become in other aspects of your life as well.

Augmentation of empathy

The last aspect that I thought about was how it can develop your empathy. This is also more relevant to fictional books, as you have to take perspectives from different characters.

As with creativity, the more you read about stories from other people’s point of views, the more you’re able to feel what they’re feeling. As the characters develop, the deeper your understanding becomes of their own personality, how they relate to others, and what they want to accomplish.

The practice in this becomes how you put yourself in their shoes to make sense of the story. This can directly translate to your interpersonal relationships, as empathy is also a skill that can be worked on.

So when it comes to reading, my personal preference is to take a mix of fictional and non-fictional books. This gives me the right balance in acquiring new knowledge, expanding my creativity and augmenting my empathy.

The benefits of reading are definitely not limited to what I mentioned in this post. If you have any other important insights from your own reading experience, feel free to share it in the comments below! I’m also happy to engage more on this topic privately.

Get those books off the shelf and start boosting!

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.