Why reading is so important

Until a couple of years ago, I had a really hard time bringing myself to consistently read books. I’d pick up a book that seemed interesting, read a chapter or two and put it down in favour of YouTube videos or something else. I can’t say for sure, but it probably has something to do with the fact you’re pretty much forced to read books throughout your education, even if you don’t want to. I don’t think anyone can dispute that being forced into things you have little or no interest in can build a negative association, which ends up making it more difficult to pick that thing up in the future. I’ll leave that controversial discussion about education to a future post, though. In this one, I want to write about how powerful books can be in widening your perception of life, and honing your skills.

Starting off with some facts:

  • People who read are more knowledgeable and increase their chance of success over those who do not.
  • Someone that reads one book a day will absorb more knowledge in a year than someone who reads one book a month.
  • Reading books is the only out-of-school activity for 16-year-olds demonstrably linked to securing managerial or professional jobs. (source: The Reading Agency)

Let’s put it this way, if you want to increase your chances of being successful in life you should keep reading and take action.

Books are full of knowledge, so why aren’t you reading?

If books are full of knowledge, does that mean people that don’t read are not interested in learning? I find this incredibly hard to believe.

You could make the argument that there are no good books on topics you’re interested in, but that’s a weak argument. In 2010, Google said that the amount of published books is somewhere around 129 million. According to some stats a little over 2 million books have been published in 2015 so far. How could it possibly be that with such an incredible amount of books there is nothing that matches one of your interests, or something you’re passionate about!?

It’s more likely that your mind has somehow become conditioned to think of books/reading as a negative thing. There can be many reasons for it, but in the end it usually comes down to this:

Something in your mind is telling you that the gain (or pleasure) from reading a book is outweighed by the effort (or pain) of taking the time and actually reading it. This is known as something called the “pain-pleasure principle”, and simply put it means that instincs are constantly moving you towards things that give you pleasure and away from things that give you pain (not neccessarily physical, of course).

Knowing this, you should probably question why you’re opposed to reading. I’m hoping this article will make you rethink your position and realise that reading books are able to bring you knowledge, and access to people you would otherwise never be able to meet.

Books allow you to peek into someones mind

Ever wondered how Sam Walton came to start Walmart? Unfortunately it’s too late to ask him in person.. but the book “Sam Walton: Made in America” gives you a brilliant peek into his mind.

Personally, I think books can be seen as the materialisation of what’s in someones mind. If you want to know how to start and operate a huge retail corporation, who would you ask for advice? The right answer would be to ask someone that has done exactly what you want to do, or something comparable. But the chances you have someone in your circle that has built something as big as Walmart is incredibly slim, so isn’t it incredibly valuable that you can read a book and learn all the things from someone that has experienced the things you want to go through?

Biographies should have a place on your bookshelf

Have you ever thought of biographies as boring, or useless? Thoughts like “What’s the point in learning all about this person”?

The fact is that biographies can teach you a lot. People tend to tell the short story about people, neglecting some of the hardships they have had to go through and the decisions they made on the way for a simple story in the format of “He lived on the street 10 years ago, then he started a cleaning company and now he’s a millionaire”. The truth is that peoples success consists everything in their life: decisions, hardships, and everything else people go through is what makes them who they are, and in turn is what made them successful.

Good biographies tell someones life story in a level of detail that allows you to relate to them. It allows you to compare your thought patterns and decision making to that of the greatest minds on this planet. How amazing is that?

Self-help books are not for the weak

Sometimes people tell me that self-help books are for weak people. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I think some people have misconceptions about what a self-help book really is.

These books allow you (as the reader) to change your perspective on whatever you’re dealing with. They’re often full of small “reminders” or things that trigger you to break your existing thought patterns and look at things under a different light. That’s where the amazing value of these books is.

Even if you don’t need ‘help’ with anything, these books are still great to read just for the fact they might give you a different perspective on things and make you realise something you may have missed out on.

I think there’s a pattern here

Investigate some of the most successful people in the world, and you’ll find that a lot of them regard reading as something very important. If people like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates who are incredibly successful place great importance on reading books, how arrogant do you have to be to say you have nothing to gain from reading?

Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will.
~ Warren Buffet

Liked this post? Let me know, as I’d like to write a lot more of these.