If you had to guess how many times someone told you that you should read books, translated to seconds, how much time would have passed? Take a wild guess? Is it a minute? An hour? A month or maybe even a year? I still hear my mom say it to me: “You should get off your phone, pick up a book and read. Do something with your life.” Yeah mom, I will, was always my answer, looking the grumpiest I could. We see it everywhere: ‘The power of reading’ ‘How reading can change your life’. Whatever the headline of a news article, Facebook post or blog post states, it’s all about reading. We all know reading is good for us, but why can it be so hard to get motivation to start reading? Where does this resistance against reading comes from? Questions I asked myself.
Multiple researches and studies have shown that reading books is extremely powerful. According to Capcana University reading can prevent getting Alzheimer and Dementia, reduce stress, improve your memory and vocabulary, strengthen your analytic thinking skills, improve your focus and and concentration etc. etc. The list goes on an on. Knowing these benefits never made me grab a book instead of my phone. Let me tell you the story how I went from hating books to eating books.
Growing up I hated reading. Trying to match being a slow reader and being impatient didn’t turn out like some Tinder matches do, unfortunately. It’s like putting Max Verstappen (Dutch formula 1 driver) in a car with a max speed of 45 km/h. It won't work. The only thing I felt was frustration after reading a few pages of a book because I wanted to read faster, get quicker results and eat books for breakfast. But where was this frustration and hate coming from?
I assume we all had to read during High School. It doesn’t matter if it was long ago or recently, we all had to finish a certain amount of books for our language courses. The reason: “Reading is good for you, it enhances your vocabulary, language understanding and blabla’ I can still hear my teacher say it. I think that obligation, the obligation to read books, in combination with puberty, is the cause of the hate I felt. It made me resilient. Just because I had to do it, I didn’t want to do it. Sounds familiar?
After High School I committed myself to never read again; ‘reading was just not for me’. For four years I kept myself to this promise, quite an accomplishment.
Up until the point that I met my dear buddy Kody, during a Summer School program in Hong Kong. Kody made me realise that reading didn’t have to be that bad. He was the guy that took a book out, when I was on my phone wasting my time. After hanging out with him for a week, I decided to put my pride aside and start the conversation about this topic that frustrated me; reading. That conversation resulted in change of my mindset. Kody didn’t convince me to start reading or pitched all the benefits of reading, he just shared his experience. After that conversation, I was able to let go of the resistance and I started giving reading a try.
The first book I read after 4 years: 48 laws of Power by Robert Greene. Do I recommend this book as your first? Definitely not. 452 pages of though, deep, researched material about what laws you should follow to gain power, isn’t what you call an ‘easy read’.
Already fed up with reading this blog? I can imagine, I am sorry for making it this long. But you are past the halfway point so keep up the good work! ;)
Back to the story: I committed to finishing this book. It took me a while to finish this powerful, incredible, mind blowing book, but once finished, man did I feel satisfied. My first book finished after more than 4 years!
Fast forward more than a year, I have now read 19 books in total. I currently read 3 books at the same time, and finish at least 20 pages a day. Impressive right? I don’t think so.
It doesn’t matter if you felt the same hate and frustration as I did towards reading, or if you just have troubles starting or finishing a book. I believe that the problem lies in the word ‘reading’ itself. Without any deeper meaning, reading itself is just an empty word. It’s one of those things you should do, because successful people do it and just because it’s good for you. It’s one of these words on your new year resolutions list, below eating healthy, working out, being more loving and caring and spending less time on your phone.
It’s this word that can cause frustration because you simply don’t appeal to it. You don’t like it, don’t want to make time for it or just don’t want to spend money on it. And if you finally commit to buying a book, you want to see the results immediately and finish it within a week.
Or at least, that’s how I taught about it. I am the type of guy who would buy a book and quit reading it a week later because I wasn’t even close to the halfway point. It would leave me frustrated, annoyed and sometimes angry. It left me believing: “F*ck reading”.
Well, so how did I end up loving books, and even reading 3 books at the same time? I could say: by having discipline and committing to read ten pages, and eventually 20 pages, every day. But that’s not the key. Discipline is necessary, yes. However, just having discipline left me feeling frustrated, because in the beginning, deep down, I did not want to read. I did not want to finish 10 pages a day, I just wanted to get the results and do it because apparently it will give great results.
To conclude, what does reading mean to me? For me reading means self improvement, it means learning from the ‘masters’. It means satisfaction because I know I am developing and growing on a daily basis. It means building a bookshelf for my family, friends and children, grandchildren in the future. It means believing in the compound effect, and by having the discipline to do it on a daily basis believing it will help me in the long run. But it does not mean something I have to do, it’s something I choose to do because I want to.
What does reading mean to you?