“I can’t believe he assigned us that reading for tomorrow,” is an often-heard saying on college campuses. And it’s only one of the many ways that students vent their frustration about reading.
Why do students dislike reading so much? I’m convinced this reality stems from two main issues.
The first problem arises from teachers forcing students to read. When young adults only experience reading through a lame requirement, students will commonly forecast all reading as lame.
And the simple principle of being told to do something—like reading—makes the activity undesirable right away. For example, I bet if someone forced you enough times to get drinks with your friends, the last thing you would want to do is go out with your friends.
The second issue is that professors decide what material students have to read. When you’re unable to pick what you read, you miss out on arguably the best part of reading: diving into a subject that interests you.
Because of these two issues, it’s understandable why so few young adults read for fun.
(Before I get angry emails, I recognize that if professors don’t assign reading assignments, then many students would never read at all. And I understand that some curriculum forces a teacher’s hand in what readings they assign.)
However, I think most of us are limiting our chances at success by missing out on the benefits of reading. And I’m talking to myself too, that’s why I said “us.” I recently made a goal to read more often.
Why Reading Is Important To Your Success
Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Mark Cuban are only a few of many wildly successful people who are avid readers. The fact that these people navigate their busy schedules to make time to dive into a book is a clear testament to the benefits of reading.
They spend hours reading because they’ve realized how valuable reading was to their previous success, and how important it is for their future success.
For starters, reading gives you the knowledge of other’s failures and successes. So, those who are well-read have the greatest lessons of the world at their disposal. This concept applies well to one of my favorite quotes, which is, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one,” by George R.R. Martin.
Experience is coveted in any field, but the problem is it takes decades to gain experience if you only get it through your life. Reading is a shortcut to gaining years of experience without going through the struggles yourself.
Also, regular readers improve their writing and speaking skills as they move through book after book. The more your brain practices reading, the more vocabulary it can use when it’s your time to write or speak.
And reading is a healthy workout for the brain, which helps readers’ memory, analytical thinking, and concentration. Medically speaking, the mental workout of reading slows down Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The benefits of reading don’t only apply to non-fiction, but reading fiction, too. Those who read fiction tend to have stronger emotional intelligence, which helps them effectively manage complex situations with other people.
Fiction readers put themselves in the positions of the book’s characters, and then carry that memory with them in different experiences. Later in life, they are more likely to see all the different perspectives of an issue to make the best decision.
This means all of those entertaining Harry Potter, Twilight, and Game of Thrones books are also helpful in your career success. Who would have known?
How To Read More Books
Sometimes the hardest part in developing a new habit, like reading a book, is knowing where to start. That’s why I’m going to slowly walk through the process from finding the right book, to finish reading it.
1. Determine what type of book you want to read based on your interests or what you want to learn about. For example, fiction or non-fiction? And then go further into the sub-categories, such as Business & Money, History, Humor & Entertainment, Science Fiction & Fantasy, or Travel.
2. Once you find a category that interests you, find the bestsellers in that category. In some areas of life the wisest move is to take the opposite route of the crowd, but not when it comes to books.
Go on Amazon Books, the New York Times bestseller list, or a Google search to find the best-reads from that category. Then pick about 5-10 books that you’re interested in to move on.
3. Look at the number of pages for each book on your list, and pick the shortest one to read first. Since positive momentum is a powerful force, starting with a shorter read and building your way up to a longer read is the best strategy.
4. To get the book fast (and to save money) I first check the online catalog of the closest university library or public library to see if they have it. If they do, then it’s a short walk or drive from being in your hands.
Even if your library doesn’t have it, they’re often part of a network of libraries that will send it to your library upon request.
If this fails, then spend $10 to buy the book. Since knowledge is power, the price of the book is worth it.
5. The last and usually the hardest step is spending time to read the book. My best advice is this: block off a specific time in your schedule, find a quiet area, and let yourself get lost between the covers.
Bonus. When you’re regularly reading, increase the ante by making specific goals to push yourself. Some goals you may want to try that increase in difficulty include reading:
- 1 book every 6 months
- 1 book every 3 months
- 1 book every month
- 2 books every month
- 3 books every month
- 1 book every week
- 100 books every year
Readers, when’s the last time you read a book in your free time? Did you know the benefits of reading before seeing this blog post? What are your favorite types of books and why? Are any of you taking the bonus challenge and setting specific goals to read more books?