No, Good Readers Don’t Have Superpowers
If you’re here, you probably want to read more books.
The problem is that reading books is getting harder every day. Each second we receive a huge amount of highly fragmented information: social media, text messaging, articles like this one. Sitting down and following an author’s argument pages and pages on seems like an impossible feat.
But some people make it. You probably follow them on social media, share their blog posts, and like their book photos. And maybe, far from inspiring you to develop the habit of reading, seeing all that book success is depressing you. You think, “I’ll never be able to read that much” or “I just can’t understand those books and authors!”
You long to be that kind of reader. The one that never stops and takes pleasure in heavy and old volumes, filled with deep and rich prose. Or, to be honest, you long to at least finish a book — any book — at least once in a while.
May I tell you something? There’s nothing that keeps you from being that kind of reader. Because good readers are not super-human. They don’t have superpowers or something like that. To be fair, some people do seem to have superpowers (I still don’t understand how Charles Spurgeon read 6 books per week), but most of the readers you admire are regular people that simply do one thing: they set apart some time every day and read.
This is probably not your first article on reading. I’m sure you’ve looked up many resources and advice to help you read more and read better. That’s fine. The problem is that you might be investing too much time looking up how to read and too little time in actually sitting down and reading.
Read, read, and then read some more
To learn to write you must write; to learn to read you must read. A lot. You have to make it a regular part of your day. It will be exhausting at first, your concentration won’t last too long, and you might not understand all of what you read… you’ll want to give up.
But the only thing that sets apart a good reader from a mediocre one is that the good reader doesn’t give up. She’ll come back the next day and the one after that.
And, when she least expects it, the good reader will be even better. She’ll be able to read for longer periods without distraction, she’ll want to read even more, and she’ll be able to understand deeper arguments than before.
You can be that kind of reader. The only thing you have to do is stop wishing and start doing. Again and again and again. There are no magic formulas; there are no superpowers. We’re just humans with books. Humans sharing ideas with other humans, as best we can. And then a little bit better than before.
There are many things that we can say about being a better reader. This article explains how we could read 200 books a year if we read instead of using social media. I wrote a little something about the big impact that a minute of daily reading could have in your life.
But the truth is that, if you want to be a good reader, you must put down your phone and read without giving up. And then pick up another book and then another. The only way that a non-reader becomes a great reader is through a journey of many well-read books. Not one or two books, but a lot of books.
So don’t give up. Start that journey, one book at a time.
A version of this article was originally published in Spanish on Medium.