Why I read

I read a lot. Books, essays, articles. I’ve become a bit of an Audible addict too, and still count it as reading.

My goal is to consume at least one book a week. It’s looking promising for this year.

I read mostly non-fictional books. Inspirational books, business books, self-improvement books, books that can teach me something. Essay and article topics range widely. I read to be informed, hence I avoid mainstream media.

“You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.”
— Dr. Suess

Just the other day I was introduced to Oscar Wilde’s writing (thanks for that!) and thoroughly enjoy the wit and genius of the man. Although it’s fiction, I take many lessons from it too.

Because of this experience, I want to read more of the classics. I’m working up the courage to tackle some of the heavyweights in this department.

Recently I was asked what the point of all my reading is. Do I jump from idea to idea after every book I read?

I don’t believe I suffer from recency bias in my views and what I implement, no matter how much I read. Some books are forgotten easily and quickly. Others leave a lasting impression and deserve to be read a second time (maybe more).

So here are some reasons why I read:

A) I read because I believe in learning something new every day. I have a personal commitment to continued learning and self-improvement.

B) It helps me develop opinions. I don’t have to agree with the author to learn something from the book I’m reading. What others believe and think about a subject is necessary to establish informed opinions. I often call BS on what I read.

C) I read because, like Socrates, I know that I know nothing. I absorb different ideas from books and apply what I learn in other areas of my life.

D) I read to enrich my life. If a book doesn’t do it for me, I’m happy to put it down. I’ll select a book because it challenges my views. I’ll also read more than one book on a topic to get a more balanced view.

E) I read to improve my general knowledge. I can never know enough. And there is much to learn. I’m committed to be a lifelong learner.

F) I read to better understand my past. Yes, sometimes I learn something that helps me understand events of my past better. I can’t change the past, but I can be better prepared for the future.

G) Reading enhances my imagination. It inspires and motivates me. I can do with a more creative imagination. This is something I want to practice more deliberately.

H) It improves my vocabulary and writing abilities. There are more than 170000 words in the Oxford dictionary and the average adult know between 20000–35000. I aim to be better than the average.

All of these reasons boil down to becoming a better (or the best) version of myself.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to be the best version of themselves, in order to fully contribute to society, the people around us, this life.

In addition to my own reasons for reading, there are other obvious personal benefits. These include mental stimulation, stress reduction, increased knowledge, improved memory, stronger analytical thinking skills, improved focus and concentration, better writing skills, and a healthy source of entertainment.

I find it curious that we live in a world where physical health is regarded so highly (and rightly so), but mental health is so often neglected. In the same way we know that it’s important to exercise, and eat well, and get enough sleep, it is just as important to keep your brain stimulated, challenged, and in good condition.

In fact, having the healthy stimulated brain can contribute to the physical health too. A strong mind is invaluable when you are focused on improving your body.

And what better way to stimulate the brain than with the written word?

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
― Charlie Tremendous Jones
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