The Most Important Things I’ve Learned from Reading over 40 Books This Year

Lessons Learned From Reading More Than 40 Books in 2020

David Peletz
Oct 23 · 4 min read
Lessons Learned From Reading More Than 40 Books in 2020
Lessons Learned From Reading More Than 40 Books in 2020
Photo by Seven Shooter on Unsplash

This year, I’ve been able to read 43 books so far. In dedicating hundreds, if not thousands, of hours to reading, I’ve learned some unexpected lessons.

Reading without applying knowledge is useless

Before diving into a book, it’s important to know why you’re reading this book. What do you want to get out of it? What do you expect to learn from it? How can you apply what you learn to your life? We shouldn’t simply read to regurgitate random information and be able to tell others about how well-read we are.

There is little point in reading if you don’t apply what you’ve learned.

Quality over quantity

Reading a few, great books and getting as much as you can from them is better than reading dozens of books and barely learning anything. I’d rather read a few books and deeply understand them than read a bunch of books and only understand them on a superficial level. With reading, you get out what you put in. I’ve learned that the level of attention you can give to a book will determine how much you get out of it.

You don’t have to finish every book

This one was hard for me to learn. I still struggle with it to an extent. I don’t like to start things and not finish them, but with reading, this is actually a good thing. If you realize that you don’t like a book, drop it. There’s no point in wasting more time on a book that you’re struggling through and not gaining anything from.

Just because other people loved a book doesn’t mean that it’s right for you. The time you’ve spent reading that book isn’t a sunk cost. If you quit now, you can save all the time you would’ve wasted struggling to finish it.

You don’t have to read just one book at a time

This goes along with the last point. You don’t have to stick to one book at a time. I’ve found that reading non-fiction throughout the morning and day and then switching to fiction for the evening works well for me. I don’t always stick to this, but I generally find that I crave something deeply engaging and less serious for the evening.

At the moment, I’m probably reading around 10 different books. Some of them I haven’t opened up in months and others I rotate between on a daily basis. It took me a while to accept that there’s nothing wrong with this. I read for enjoyment and have come to the conclusion that it’s important for me to pay attention to and embrace what I’m interested in at any given moment. There’s no reason to force anything.

Have a book list, but embrace your curiosity

I have an unbelievably long list of books that I’m looking forward to reading. That said, I don’t stick to it religiously. If I find a book that I’m excited about, I embrace my curiosity and jump right into it. It’s nice to have a list to look to when you finish a book, but it’s not necessary to follow it in a linear order.

I think that if I were to religiously follow my book list, I’d start to feel as if I were in a curriculum. For me, this would go against the point of reading. As a reader, you have so much freedom.

There’s power in being able to enjoy your free time and learn about whatever you want at any given moment.

Reading gets easier

I’ve found that, with practice, the process of reading gets smoother. While reading books within a given genre, you start to be able to recognize similar patterns of writing that authors follow. Being able to see these patterns helps you read faster and take in more information.

I’ve also found that reading gets less exhausting with practice. At first, I would fall asleep within minutes if I picked up a book in the evening. Now, I’m able to stay engaged and awake for hours. With practice, reading has become less taxing on my eyes and mind.

It’s all about habits

Reading is something that I do almost every day. Most mornings, I spend a half hour reading for pleasure before the day starts. I initially tried to read at the end of the day, but would sometimes get to the end of the day and be too lazy to open a book. I realized that if I wanted to read every day, I needed to do it early in the day. Often, I return to books later in the day as well. I don’t think this would happen as much if I weren’t reading early in the day.

Picking up a book in the morning sparks my curiosity and leaves me excited to return to something when my work day is over.

Focus on the long term

While there have been times where I read an entire book in a day, I’ve realized that the long term is more important. I find reading to be more valuable if I do it every day. In my opinion, reading an hour every day for a year is better than reading an entire book in a day several times a year.

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.

-Bruce Lee

The key lessons I’ve learned from reading over 40 books this year are:

  • Reading without applying knowledge is useless
  • Quality is more important than quality
  • You don’t have to finish every book
  • You don’t have to read just one book at a time
  • Have a book list, but embrace your curiosity
  • Reading gets easier
  • It’s all about habits
  • Focus on the long term

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David Peletz

Written by

data scientist interested in AI and NLP davidpeletz.com

Curious

Curious

A community of people who are curious to find out what others have already figured out // Curious is a new personal growth publication by The Startup (https://medium.com/swlh).

David Peletz

Written by

data scientist interested in AI and NLP davidpeletz.com

Curious

Curious

A community of people who are curious to find out what others have already figured out // Curious is a new personal growth publication by The Startup (https://medium.com/swlh).

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