Especially if you are young.
Warren Buffet reads five hundred pages per day. His right-hand man, Todd Combs, reads up to a thousand.
“I just sit in my office and read all day.”
The point of reading this much is to build knowledge. And when you read five hundred pages of relevant non-fiction a day, you get really knowledgable.
For the rest of this post, I will assume you read varied subject matter, although a narrower focus may also apply.
I suggest you follow in Buffet’s footsteps and read more. For the past year, I have read upwards of four hours a day. I highly recommend it.
Some of the effects I have noticed from extensive reading are:
- Development of a very strong world view.
- A wealth of useful knowledge, skills, and conversational fodder.
- Lack of patience for bullshit (including bad, regurgitated writing).
- Improved writing and speaking skills.
- Mental clarity and enthusiasm.
- Self awareness.
- An inclination towards free thinking and a distaste for structure.
There are few better ways to absorb knowledge and wisdom than through reading. Don’t read just anything, though. Due to the sheer volume of content available, being an instinctive curator is an important skill. There are thousands of blogs and books, some of which are incredible. It’s your job to filter out the rotten ones.
Beyond content quality, reading (and learning) is best when it is:
- Self-directed, driven by curiosity. This is key. If you don’t give a shit about what you are reading, you will never remember it. You will resent the content, the author, and the person who told you to read it.
- Self-initiated. When we learn things because we want to learn them, we are much more likely to remember and apply that knowledge.
- Endless. Learning is not a four-year degree, a program, or a seminar. Never stop learning; if you stop learning, you stop growing. Those who stop growing stop living.
As virtuous as reading is, you should eventually stop reading and start creating, writing, designing, doing whatever it is you are reading about. There is a place for doing, and there is a place for learning. Knowledge without action is pointless; a balance must be struck.
A note to younger readers
If you spend several hours reading nonfiction each day instead of wasting your time with TV, video games or the newest social app, people will notice. A consulting client once mistook me for being 23; I was 17 at the time, and looked younger.
“If you can read in the 21st century, you own the world.” -Stephen King
The bottom line: read more, and only read what is interesting.
Tools like Instapaper and Kindle make reading simpler.
Libraries are also an incredible resource. Most libraries stock ebooks, movies, audio, newspapers, magazines, and periodicals on top of books. Plus, librarians are available to help expose you to new material.
Note: After awhile, you have to be picky about which articles to read. Building a backlog of a 200+ articles in Instapaper (an estimate of my current collection) is a bad idea. I bought a Kindle to help remedy this.