Are you battling depression? Are you overworked and constantly broke? Do you wish you had better relationships with less conflict and more genuine love and intimacy? Do you have problems sleeping when pregnant? Do you have problems growing your business? Apparently, reading can solve all of your problems.
Except for playing golf, ultra-rich people do something extra. No, they don’t swim in pools full of cash like Uncle Scrooge does, they read.
The average person reads 1.5 books per year while the average top CEO reads over 50 books per year. And they don’t do this to brag on social media – to Instagram the book with a cup of coffee on the side. They do this so they can maintain a competitive edge. To keep their mind sharp. To stay on top of their field, find new ideas that can both improve their lifestyles and their business.
But it’s not only random CEOs. Reading is the most common activity performed by some of the most successful people of our time. People like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Mark Cuban. They are all well known for their reading habits. They even go a step further and say that they owe their success to this simple activity. Something that’s really hard to believe. I mean, if you’re a regular dude, it will be kind of hard to imagine that reading books alone can make you widely popular and insanely rich. There are so many other things we can do with our time, right? Why reading should be so important? What’s the secret? And gosh, how reading can make you successful on Instagram and all the other social media accounts?
Well, these are all things we’re going to discuss in this post. I’m going to explain why reading is so important and how you can read more books in less time. But don’t worry, I won’t bore you to death by saying the same bland things all other sites are saying on the subject. I’m also not going to list 44 reasons why reading is so important or 1,012,212 reasons. I’m going for only 3 reasons.
Boring Facts About Why Reading is Important
OK, I lied, I apologize. I’m going to mention, briefly, what other sites are sharing about the importance of reading.
Mention is probably not the right thing to say. I’m going to argue against the arguments presented by sites appearing on the first page of Google about the importance of reading. Sites with flashy titles like these: “8 Reasons Why Reading is So Important” and “17 Reasons Why Reading is Important For Everyone.”
The main reason I want to start with this is to show you how other sites are only touching the surface with their facts without ever going in-depth on the subject. After that, I’m going to lay down my own personal reasons on why people should spend more time in the company of a good book.
So, here are 7 reasons according to “famous” sites about why reading is so important and what I think about these statements:
- “You expose yourself to new things“: Well duh! Of course you are, but every time you watch a new video on YouTube you also expose yourself to new things. But Bill Gates never mentioned something about YouTube making you successful, did he?
- “Reading is a vital skill in finding a good job”: According to the author of this “major finding,” most well-paying jobs require reading as a part of the job performance. Well, yes, if you’re not able to read the job application you won’t be able to apply, thus get the job. But this doesn’t reinforce the fact that reading is important. It only states that reading, in general, is good. Yes, it is. As well as writing, the ability to eat, go to the restroom, and having good manners. If you can’t hold the fork properly, if you’re acting like a jerk, things most probably won’t work out between you and your employer.
- “Reading can improve your spelling”: Nope. Didn’t work for me. I’m reading at least two books per month, and I’m still bad with spelling. Thank goodness there are apps like Grammarly or Languagetool.
- “Reading can help you develop confidence”: How exactly? Actually, I think it’s the opposite. Most readers are loners. They prefer reading to talking to other people.
- “Reading improves your emotional health”: “Hey, doc. I’m no longer taking my pills. I’m reading instead.” A good book can surely lift your mood. Help you fight helplessness. Inspire us. But I don’t think it can solve the problem for good and help us become permenantely emotionally healthy.
- “Reading is fundamental in developing a good self-image”: I’m going to directly quote the site: “Non-readers or poor readers often have low opinions of themselves and their abilities.” Again, I think it’s the opposite. As the saying goes, “The more you know the more you know you don’t know.” There is a whole study on the subject done by David Dunning and Justin Kruger. It’s called the Dunning–Kruger effect. I basically state that incompetent people have greater self-esteem in what they do because they can’t recognize the shortcomings in their performance. Or in other words, stupid people are more confident because they don’t know that they’re stupid.1
- “Reading can boost happiness and overall life satisfaction:” I own a PlayStation. And as much as I hate to admit it, I feel a lot happier when I’m playing a good game.
These 7 reasons repeat in different sites online. I don’t know why people publish stuff like that. Yep, there are some arguments that are true, like: Reading can help develop the mind, reading helps us focus, reading develops the imagination, reading can help us find meaning. Still, the general information about why reading books is important is so vague that I’m puzzled how the editor allowed the article to be published.
But enough for other sites. Let me show you the 3 main reasons why I believe you should read more books:
Reason #1: When Reading You Gain The Knowledge and The Experience Of Someone Else In a Really Concise and Structured form
Do you know what’s involved in writing a good book? Except for the ton of wrinkled papers gravitating around the bin of the writer. It involves a lot of research and a lot of thought.
Some authors spend years writing a book. For instance, it took 5 years for Robert Greene to write his latest book: The Laws of Human Nature.
Even though he’s an experienced author, with a couple of best-selling books under his belt, Nature’s book still took him half a decade to produce. Why? If you have read even one of his other books you will know. His books are full of snippets of history that demonstrate the laws he’s talking about throughout the book in practice. And all of this data collection and organization takes time. That’s reason number 1 on why reading is so important.
A single book represents a huge amount of data compressed in an easily understandable way. Basically, this is what authors do: They research the topic in length, tangle the different pieces together, and finally come up with a way to communicate their findings with the audience in a really simple language.
It kinda looks like this:
- Authors start with the research. They look at different sources and highlight only important information.
- After they have enough info, they start trimming down what’s unnecessary and unuseful.
- Finally, after enough iteration, they’re ready with their copy. This stage also includes various edits.
As mentioned, the whole process can take years, depending on the book and on the author’s writing style. In the end, you don’t simply get a hardcovered piece full of pages stuffed with words printed on them. You get compressed knowledge that will otherwise take you years to digest.
But that’s not all. You get something else in addition – the author’s point of view and knowledge. That’s why books written by famous CEOs are so important to read if you are running a business – consider Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, for example. These business moguls share their experiences. The mistakes they’ve made and the lessons they’ve learned. The type of information you can’t otherwise get, even if you are a BFF with that person.
Reason 2: When Reading Your World View Expands and You Get To Understand New Things, Faster
We can illustrate reading like uncovering a map when playing a video game. Each new page uncovers a small part of the world map. The more you read, the more you’ll see ahead.
Let me visualize this with the picture below:
Beware though, if you’re constantly exposing yourself to the same information you won’t learn anything new. That’s why it’s important to read different books and different opinions. Different authors will have different points of view – and that’s good. At first, you might get confused, “Why do people say different things about the same issues?” But after some time, you’ll learn to distillate the essential ideas, see the different facts and form an opinion on your own.
But there is more to that.
In general, we learn through experience. The so-called experiential learning. Simply put, learning by doing.2 It’s an ancient form of learning. Aristotle was probably the first one to acknowledge this form of understanding things by saying, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
But as you can imagine, this form of learning can take ages. Yeah. The net is flooded with quotes saying that you should learn from your mistake. But why make errors when you can learn from other people’s mistakes?
That’s where reading comes in. When you read you get to understand things you haven’t yet experienced. See how other people messed up so you can avoid making these types of mistakes.
For instance, if don’t know how to start your own business, by reading a book on the subject you will be a bit more prepared than all the other entrepreneur wannabes. The same applies to other topics. If you don’t know how to design a building or write a novel, you can get the best book available on the subject and understand the essentials.
At this point, you might be thinking, “I don’t have to read books. I can watch videos. There are tons of videos online. Why bother reading?”
Even though this is a very good objection – good job reader! – reading is quite different. Even if you watch a handful of interviews, it won’t be the same when you read the biography of someone famous. Why? Well, because it’s really hard to go into details when you record an interview or when you speak at a conference. Interviews and lectures are around 30 minutes. That’s not enough time to explain the details. That’s why people write books. So they can dive deep, express their point of view, and give enough examples so you can finally get familiar with the topic.
Reason #3: Reading Will Help You Solve Difficult Problems Faster
For this one, we’ll get back to the beginning of the article. The part about rich people reading.
What do you think famous CEOs do all day? Play golf? Spend money on expensive stuff? Instagram stuff?
Well, probably most of them are doing the above but there is something else they all have in common. They make decisions. Important decisions. Billing dollar worth decisions.
And how do they end up making the right decisions? That’s right my friend. They read, constantly.
That’s why Warren Buffett is famous for reading 500 pages a 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 do it.”3
And this simple habit helped him quite a lot, obviously.
Reading will help you understand complicated things and also help you observe a situation from all possible angles.
It kind of looks like this:
When you read books on different topics your brain will develop and you’ll learn to see things from different angles – the systems that make the machine work. Therefore, you’ll make better decisions, faster. And as Buffett says, “It builds up.” Over time you’ll connect the dots and you’ll make fewer impulse decisions that can be otherwise devastating for your life.
Quick Tips To Read More Books
“OK, I do get what you’re saying but I don’t have enough time to read dude. Help me out!”
I fully get you! Juggling between work, your kids, your hobbies, probably your business can be quite stressful and time-consuming. Often we don’t have enough time to schedule time with a good book.
But there is a way out. If you really want to upgrade your brain and finally make better decisions, you can do the following two things to consume more books:
- Stop using social media: Finally, get over this nonsense. Instagram shouldn’t be an extension of your arm. There is life beyond social media. A life where you actually experience life, not simply browsing pictures of people you don’t personally know. Quitting social media will magically grant you with more time to read books.
- Read book summaries: But not just random book summaries you found on Google. Good, high-quality book summaries. Like mine. Yeah. It might sound a bit selfish to promote my writing like this but people do adore them. Even if you choose other resources – shame on you! – reading book summaries will not only inspire you to read the actual books. But it will also save you time researching. It’s like watching a trailer for a movie. If the trailer doesn’t seem compelling, you can find another book that is closer to what you are looking for at the moment.
Some Closing Thoughts
No matter your background or your profession. Reading should be part of your daily routine.
Yeah, it might feel boring at times. Yeah there are other cool activities you probably prefer but if you really want to progress in life, finally lose weight, expand your business, or simply be a better parent, you need to read.
So, if you’re still here, if you’re still reading, and if you’re still not convinced, read the quotes below from people smarter than me about the importance of reading:
“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” Jim Rohn
“One of the joys of reading is the ability to plug into the shared wisdom of mankind.” Ishmael Reed
“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” W. Somerset Maugham