Most of the people you know probably used to read tons of books when they were around a decade old, devouring books like Harry Potter, Geronimo Stilton or some other fiction book.
However, they used to read. More and more people have lost touch with reading whether it is due to schools making reading a chore with the compulsory reading syllabus or the rise of social media, smartphone usage and other forms of content being more readily available than ever before.
The Golden Age of Consumption
I am not sure whether this is just a hasty generalization but most of the people around my age group (Teenagers) do not read books. They instead choose to indulge in other forms of content consumption such as watching YouTube videos, browsing TikTok and Instagram, watching Netflix and so on. This reduces the time available for other more meaningful and possibly life changing forms of content consumption such as listening to podcasts and audio books, watching online courses and documentaries, reading blog posts, newsletters and last but not least reading books.
Fiction Books vs TV Shows
Some people might argue that reading fiction books and watching TV shows are the same thing and I agree in some circumstances. When you are reading the Crazy Rich Asian Series or watching the Crazy Rich Asian movie, you are indulging in a form of entertainment. However there is a difference.
While watching the movie might introduce you to the Crazy Rich Asian lifestyle and culture of Singapore, it is a form of passive entertainment where you are not thinking and instead just consuming the content. However, when you are reading the Crazy Rich Asian book, it is a form of active entertainment where are you using your brain and creativity to think of what the situation might look like and how the characters might have spoken in a certain tone or register of speech.
Reading fiction books not only allow you to think creatively and take part in a form of active entertainment but it also has a small positive impact on social cognition which might seem very specific and random for me to write because it is.
When writing this blog post about reading fiction books, I recalled that a few days ago when I was listening to the Knowledge Project Podcast with Neil Pasricha
instead of scrolling through TikTok on the train Neil talked about how reading fiction every night before falling asleep and starting the day by reading fiction, can help you to have a small positive impact on social cognition (2018 Annual Review of Psychology).
However, there is another side to this whole book world and that is the non-fiction world filled with towers of books about the lives of influential and important people in history, self-help books to increase your productivity and make you more mindful of the world around you instead of the screen you are using to read this and a whole lot more. I personally enjoy reading these types of self-help books and biographies as they introduce me to a whole new world.
The first book that really taught me anything about finance and investing was “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. This book changed my whole perspective about money. I learned how the rich are getting richer and the poor are becoming more poor. This book might not have taught me how to start the next Facebook or become a real estate investor but it introduced me to the idea of having a business and having money work for me, not me working for money.
However, reading a self-help book is not all sun shines and daisies. Sometimes you might feel like the subject matter is not interesting or that it does not apply to you and that is absolutely fine. An example of this would be the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris which many people have claimed to be life changing. However, I found the book quite boring as I felt that it was not applicable for me. Maybe it will change my life when I read it 5 years down the road.
How do you start reading?
Pick up a book that you are interested in (Checkout Good Reads which is social media for books)
Make it a Habit (e.g. listen to an audiobook while on the train or jogging)
Just DO it
This brings me to the end of this blog post/me rambling on about why reading is the best. If you are interested in other cool articles about reading checkout the further readings below.
Hack Your Habits – A blog post by me about habits
Digital Minimalism – A book by Cal Newport about minimizing technology to make time for stuff with higher priorities like reading
The Book Thief – One of my favorite historical fiction books about WW2