There’s a new obsession with reading on the internet. I’m not sure I like it.
Everywhere I look, there seems to be a new speed reading hack, or someone preaching that the secret to success is how many books you can absorb.
Now, before I get into this, I’ll admit: most years, I probably do read north of a 100 books. That’s who I am. It’s something I prioritize, and it makes me feel connected. I like the idea of interacting with somebody else’s mind.
That said, I have no illusions as to why I do it. Reading is a trade-off activity, like everything else in life, and if I’m reading 100 books a year, I know that there are a whole bunch of other things that I could be doing that I’m not.
And even if speed reading was effective (beyond a certain point, it’s not) the practical return on investment of me reading that many books is not greater than the things I compromise on when I choose to spend my time doing so.
. . . .
Fundamentally, there are two reasons to read.
The first is to gain knowledge. It’s to increase the total information that we have available to understand the world. Reading for practicality falls into this area, and generally, seeing the world from new angles isn’t a bad thing.
The second is to expand our circle of empathy. It’s to feel what others have felt, it’s go to places we’ve never been, and sometimes, it’s to reinforce the things we, ourselves, are feeling. Reading for leisure is often the motivation.
. . . .
The world is complex. There is no doubt about that. But at the same time, there are a few simple ideas and mental models — maybe a total of 50 or so — that show up again and again to tell us a lot. These are the fundamentals.
Rather than reading 100+ books a year that re-frame the same concepts, it makes more sense to research and pick 10 absolutely great books that start with the fundamentals and that most of the other 90 books build off of.
Link to the rest at Medium