Charles Munger once said, "In his whole life, he has known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn't read all the time – none, zero."
Reading is one of the single most high-leverage activities you can do. And yet, 99.9% of people don't read for more than 30 minutes a day.
I started reading consistently two years ago and it has changed my life. I went from a video game-obsessed, insecure, and bored kid to someone with a hunger for learning.
Along the way, I have found reasons to keep reading I never expected before diving in. Let's go over the best reasons you need to start a reading habit.
Reason 1: Successful people with character all have reading habits
Tim Ferris reads 1-4 books a week. He uses reading to find interesting people for his podcast, The Tim Ferris Show.
David Perell reads text-based content like books and articles for 2-3 hours and then switches to speech-based media like video or podcasts for however long he wants to. He reads to fuel his blog post writing and conversations.
Joe Rogan listens to 7-8 audible books every month. Like Tim Ferris, he finds people to interview on his podcast through his reading habits.
Bill Gates, multi-billion dollar owner of X-box, purposely carves out the time to read each day for more than an hour. Every year, he also has one "think week" where he secludes himself in a cabin and reads deeply into one subject. In past think weeks, he has gone plunged into the worlds of Crypto and CRISPR.
Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Jack Ma etc. These people all follow the five-hour rule: they devote one hour of each of their weekdays to reading.
The list goes on.
Hopefully, you are starting to understand the wide variance a reading habit can take. It can take the form of an hour of reading every weekday, to audible books, to massive think weeks of voracious reading.
Every successful reader is different.
Reason 2: Learning is more critical than ever
In his book, The Inevitable, Ken Kesey explains 12 technological forces that will shape the future as we know it. One of the forces is becoming.
Because of the internet, we now live in a perpetual state of newbism. New apps and start-ups are coming out every day, and technology is changing rapidly with the internet. In 2002, we had the Blackberry, 2003, we had the IPod, in 2007, the iPhone, and nowadays, we have more social media apps than we can count.
If you want to succeed in the future, you will have to be good at learning. This is mainly for two reasons.
The first is the most important technologies in our life have not yet been invented. The second is new technologies require endless upgrades meaning we will constantly be newbies.
Every time a technology upgrades we will have to learn how to use the new version.
In his book, Deep Work, Cal Newport outlines three qualities essential for people to succeed in the future: those who work with machines, those with access to capital, and those who can learn to and produce at an elite level.
For the most part, all three of these need to be able to learn, not just to learn but to learn at a rapid rate. There is no better way to learn consistently and fast without reading an enormous amount.
Reason 3: Reading maximizes the throughput of learning
George Bernard Shaw once said, "Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything."
In his article, The Throughput of Learning, Tiago explains the best way to learn is to "maximize the amount of times our invalidated assumptions get challenged or validated."
Reading is the ultimate transformation facilitator. It increases the number of feedback systems in your life. Every time a book exposes a problem with one of your life systems, finance, relationships, health, or work, you can alter your actions to fix it.
This often occurs at the expense of short-term profitability but leads to long-term process improvements.
Reason 4: You will become more unique than you could ever imagine
There are millions of books there, and I shudder even to calculate how many combinations you can read. No one else will read the mix of books and information you have read.
Your journey is unique to everyone else's. Make sure to read books other than those on the best-selling list.
Haruki Murakami once said, "if you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you will only think what everyone else is thinking."
Reason 5: You will discover what you are passionate about
A standard piece of advice many people get is to chase their passion. See what you are passionate about right now and do more of it. In his book, So Good They Can't Ignore You, Cal Newport explains that chasing your passion doesn't always work out the way people expect.
Lots of people aren't passionate about anything. I have known more than a few high school students who treat every day as a chore to get through and see school as some forced ritual. Oftentimes, our passions show themselves as we get better and better at an activity.
I started my YouTube channel back in March of 2021. The videos were terrible. Seriously, please don't go back and watch them. But, as I created more and took courses like the Part-Time YouTuber Academy, I noticed my skills started to increase. Helping others through creating content become an incredible passion of mine.
I'm still excited to get up and write about reading.
Finding your passion through books is a great option. Books reveal parts of society and the world you never knew existed. There are books on literally everything.
Pick one up and try it. You might find something to love you never expected.
Reason 6: You have more interesting conversations
Are you sick of the endless conversations about the weather? Are you sick of questions like, "how was your sleep last night?" You don't have to put up with this anymore. The difference in a conversation between someone who reads a ton and someone who reads nothing is awestriking.
People who read consistently have hundreds of people's wisdom coursing through their brains. They can't help but spit insight with every sentence. Dinner conversations become something greater. Small talk becomes more interesting.
Every single conversation you have means more.
Reason 7: You will get better at finding interesting people
Relationships are hands down the most important thing in life. All the way back since Ancient Greece, Aristotle stated, "human are social animals."
In Aristotle's book Nicomachean Ethics, he defines three types of friends we have in our lives.
I can say from personal experience the best relationships are what Aristotle called Friends of Character: friends who love each other for the admiration of the others character. These friends want to do good to another simply for the sake of doing good. I have yet to find a friend of character who doesn't read all the time.
Reading good books requires finding good books. Choosing good literature cultivates a mind prone to spotting bullcrap. The authors of books are some of the hardest working, insightful, and kindest people I know.
Reason 8: You will meet these interesting people
You won't just get better at finding interesting people, you will meet them too!
One of the best examples came after I read the book Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks. After joining my TEDxCornell group, searched the internet for some speakers to speak at our event. For anyone who doesn't know, TEDx is a subset of TED that hosts speaking events where people come on stage to share ideas worth spreading.
I invited Matthew Dicks after finishing the book, and he said yes! I don't think I would have gotten this opportunity had I not said I read his book.
Reason 9: Books are the greatest gift
There is no greater gift than giving someone a book that matches the period of life they are going through. It shows intimacy on the deepest level. You aren't only gifting a book; you are giving a part of yourself.
You likely read the book before giving it to them. Reading a book someone else has read is like entering into their soul. It's hard to foster a deeper connection with someone than through gifting a book.
Reason 10: You will be able to understand the future from the past
Despite living in the age of the internet, many current events are simply repeats of things that have happened in history.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I found solace in the troubling time by reading Marcus Aurelius' mediations. Marcus Aurelius was the last of the five good emperors of the Roman Empire. He recounts some of the trials and tribulations of the Antonine plague in his book Meditations. Marcus was born in 121 AD.
That's over 1900 years ago! And yet, he went through very similar struggles to what we are going through now.
By reading through the trials and tribulations he faced during his time, I was able to find solace in the terrible period we are exiting in the present.
Reason 11: You aren't forced to adhere to a curriculum.
Unfortunately, we humans like doing things on our own whim. This is because of psychological reactance: the reaction we get when someone restricts our freedom. This is why many students hate homework so much. Some outside force is giving them it.
However, when we give ourselves tasks, it feels like it aligns with our decisions and our goals. I have literally caught myself putting down a book in Human Development on Psychology and picking up another book on Psychology to get a "break."
Self-reading is much more flexible than a regular college class. In most schools, content is separated into units separated into lessons separated into individual tasks.
You can read whatever you want practically whenever you want. No more being forced to follow a particular curriculum. Instead, read plant design while learning about Stoicism. There are no rules.
Reason 12: You are what you consume
Most people say you are what you eat. I say you are what you consume. If you consume only Tik Tok memes and the news, what do you think you will act like?
Unfortunately, this is what the information diet of most people looks like. I know professors of literature who spend most of their reading time on the news and articles which seem interesting on the outside but have no substance other than their title.
If you read quality literature like Proust, Henry James, Jane Austin, and tons of other great authors, you can't help but have insightful thoughts.
Reason 13: Reading makes boring moments, well not boring
Have you ever been in a coffee line wanting to die because you have to wait for five minutes? You probably took out your phone and scrolled through Instagram.
Take out a book, or your kindle, or the kindle app on your phone. Or you can stand there and think about what you have been reading. You can do it anytime, anywhere, and best of all it doesn't require anything other than your brain.
Most of life is boring. Vacations and other exciting events only happen every so often. You need to be able to take satisfaction in these moments if you want a good life.
Reading is one of the best ways to cultivate the patience necessary to enjoy the mundane times.
Reason 14: School doesn't teach you how to read
In most schools, no class teaches us how to study or how to read. The only thing we learn is how to read at an elementary level.
But when we get to middle and high school, and start taking literature classes, we never get taught how to read the books. Instead, we get essays shoveled in our mouths, and teachers expect us to come ready for discussion during class.
If school isn't going to teach us, we will have to do so ourselves.
Reason 15: Reading builds Empathy
Some of the most valuable skills often challenging to define, let alone evaluate or quantify: self-discipline, self-awareness, creative problem-solving, empathy, learning agility, adaptiveness, flexibility, positivity, rational judgment, generosity, and kindness, among others.
I know no better way to develop these skills than through a consistent reading habit, especially with fiction. Reading fiction puts you in worlds foreign to your own. As you read, you have to learn to put yourself in the shoes of others, feel how it is they feel.
Reason 16: Books help with loneliness
The path of the intellectual can be a lonely one. Before I adopted my reading, I was like most people around me in high school. I was going through much the same struggles and tribulations as they were: homework, love, video game addiction, boredom, etc.
When I started reading, these troubles drifted away. The wisdom of books helped me get rid of them. At the same time, however, I drifted apart from some of my old friends.
And not just them, but most of society as well. I interact with "normal" people daily. I struggle immensely to relate to some of the common issues they are going through.
Luckily, I'm not alone.
When you can connect emotionally with the people you are talking to on a page, you won't be lonely nearly as often. Imagine having the ability to pull out your kindle, phone, audiobook, or physical book and have a friend to talk to right then and there. Imagine feeling like you weren't the only one struggling through the rigorous problems of life.
Through reading, you don't have to anymore.
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