Why Reading Books is a Waste of Time
I remember when I was a kid at school, reading was something that you just had to do. Pick a book, read it to the teacher, take it home, read it to parents, back to school, write a report…..rinse and repeat. Some of my friends thought the same as me, others I may have tried to explain why reading books is a waste of time…maybe they listened, maybe they didn’t…who knows…but what I do know is that I DO NOT think like this anymore!
Reading was such a chore. I would just go through the motions of the book just to keep my teachers and parents off my back. I still can remember some of the titles but not the substance of the books, but I guess it was more about learning to read than gaining any sense literary appreciation.
It’s funny to think that there was a time where I didn’t enjoy reading. I was always good at school and could read absolutely fine, but when it came to just reading for the sheer hell of it I didn’t really do it at all. I loved comics so I suppose I got my reading fix through those but it would be a good few years before I really got into reading for pleasure.
So why is reading books a waste of time? The truth is, it’s not. Reading is AMAZING!!!!!
It was probably in the early 2000s when I had my first bout of loving to read. I was probably about nineteen and I just had the urge to start reading more. My friend was a ‘reader’ and I asked him to recommend me some books.
Looking back, it was quite an eclectic mix of books that he gave me this first time round. I think, if I remember correctly it was Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman that I read first. A story about Armageddon set outside of his usual Discworld where the majority of his works are set. The other was Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab a story set during the original Gulf War.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to give a play by play account of every book I read since my late teens…as much as I would love to do that, I don’t think you would want to read it anyway.
What I am going to do is tell you why I now think that reading is one of the most important practices a person can have in their daily life. People who aren’t reading anything are missing out on so much knowledge and wisdom that is just sitting there waiting to be tapped into.
If you google something along the lines of ‘Millionaires Who Read’ (inventive, I know) you will be hit be numerous articles about the world’s top businessmen and businesswomen who attribute their success to their reading habit.
Take Warren Buffett, superstar investor and one of the richest men in the world; Buffett claims to spend over eighty percent of his day reading various material. I believe in one interview I read somewhere he stated that he wished he had more time to read…as one of the world’s most wealthy individuals I suppose this habit has served him well.
Warren’s partner in Berkshire Hathaway, Charlie Munger is also a renowned reader, and with a net worth of over 1.4 Billion Dollars it’s probably not done him much harm either.
Former Microsoft big man, Bill Gates says that he reads over fifty books a year…that’s around one a week.
Take Elon Musk, CEO of Tesslar and Space X; Elon is an avid reader and has self taught himself a lot of things that has allowed him to develop these billion dollar companies. When asked in an interview how he learned to build a rocket, he answered casually….”I read books”.
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“I read books.” Elon Musk – @amazmeproj
Not everyone is going to be a Buffett, a Gates or a Musk but you can’t argue that reading has contributed massively to the success of these people.
There’s a great blog post over at www.inc.com, 5 Billionaires Who Credit Their Success to Reading by James Paine…check it out
We can learn so much from those that write these books. We can shave years off our own journeys by learning from those that came before us. What worked for them? Where did they fail? What would they do if they could do it all over again? Not everything we will learn from books will be about the successes of people. We can learn a lot about the failures of others also.
My Obsession Begins
Back in 2016 I started to go a little weird. If you’ve read ‘The Amazing Me Project’ you’ll know what I’m referring to. You see, I tend to get a little obsessed with things. I sometimes struggle to set boundaries for the things I want to do and learn and it can get a little out of hand sometimes.
In 2016 I had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and I saw any time in the day where I wasn’t learning something or creating something as wasted time. I completely cut out TV and wouldn’t even go in the same room if someone was watching it. I still watched YouTube, but only for learning. I’d devour Tony Robbins videos or tutorials on the things I wanted to know.
I would also listen to podcasts daily. Any time I was walking, in the car, at the gym I’d have a podcast on the go. I didn’t want to let any time go to waste.
When I wasn’t watching YouTube or listening to a podcast I was reading. I had bought an Amazon Fire tablet and it became my go to piece of tech. What helped to tip me over the edge though was my introduction to Kindle Unlimited. If you’re not familiar with Kindle Unlimited it is a service from Amazon that allows you to read as much as you want!!
You can choose from over one million books and thousands of audiobooks too…and it only cost me £7.99 a month…not only that, there was a 30 day free trial offer too…how could I resist. Thanks YouTube for that pop up ad on that video all those years ago. I guess I can blame YouTube for getting me hooked like some sort of book pusher
If you want to know what a book reading obsession looks like then let me tell you. Over the years of 2016 and 2017 I read 129 books from Amazon, and many, if not most of them came through Kindle Unlimited. 129 books…That’s over 5 a month….and that was just the books on my Kindle! I read paper backs too…and hard backs! Some weeks I could devour 3 books if I was proper on it!
It was through reading books that led me to write my first book ‘Do You Need Help With Running Your Bar?’…and how did I learn to write a book? Well, just like Mr Elon Musk, my answer is simple…I read books about it. And I mean the plural of books in the strongest sense.
You see, Kindle Unlimited not only has thousands of books on it from famous authors and publishers there are also a lot of self published books and a lot of them are fantastic. It was through these books that I learnt about writing books, copywriting, marketing…anything I needed to learn there would be a book on Kindle Unlimited just waiting for me.
One of the subjects I learned a lot about was speed reading. Whilst it is not easy to speed read a book on a Kindle due to it not having quickly skimmable pages like a physical book, there is a concept from speed reading that I think everybody should know and acknowledge…wait for it…this may shock you…
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“You don’t have to finish every book you start!”
The Amazing Me Project @amazmeproj
WHAAAATTTT???? It’s true. Just ask Jerry Seinfeld…
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“What is this obsession people have with books? They put them in their houses like they’re trophies. What do you need it for after you read it?”
― Jerry Seinfeld
In speed reading, one of the ways that you can read a book quick is to only read the bits you need…or to put it another way, get the most important info and concepts from the book and leave the rest.
This is why apps such as Blinkest are doing so well at the moment. They boil the books down to their key parts and deliver that to the customer. I can’t remember who said it but I once read that books are pretty much just five or six key ideas and then the rest is filler (not my own books of course). If an author pitched a book that was just to be made up of these small number of ideas then the book may never get published so the author has to bulk it out with other things.
While I’m on the subject let me give you all a quick guide to speed reading:
- Know what it is you’re reading. Read the title, the blurb on the back, anything in the front-matter that helps to clarify what the book is about and what the key messages may be.
- Pass through the book once or twice just to get an idea of what’s on the pages, any key ideas that reveal themselves to you as you pass through.
- Read the opening paragraph and then the closing section of each chapter. Authors tend to do a summary at the end of each chapter and quite often this tells the reader everything that was covered in the chapter overall without needing to read the bulk of it.
- After doing these things, ask yourself, is there anything that stood out for you? What have you read that if expanded on would give you the very thing that you wanted from the book in the first place? You can find those parts again and read them more in depth.
There’s more to speed reading than just these few points but that’s the gist of the some of the techniques. If you’re only reading a book for a certain piece of info or a specific idea then once you have attained that content and fulfilled your need then move on. You can always reread it later or dip in and out when you do have the need.
That’s kind of what I did with Kindle Unlimited. Don’t get me wrong, when I say that I read 129 books over two years, I did. How Kindle Unlimited helped me to devour that many books however was due to the fact that not every book on the platform is 300+ pages…some are 200, some 100….and…some are less than 100. It’s still a book…just a small book. Just because it’s not some opus like Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix that takes up half of your bookshelf it is still a book all the same.
Being able to read books of varying lengths meant that I could get through a lot of them. I took in enough of the knowledge, ideas and concepts so that my outcome of learning was achieved.
What have I Just Read?
Do you ever get to the bottom of a page when reading and realise that you have not actually registered anything that you’ve just read? Well, what the cause of this can be is not understanding what a word that you just read means.
Just one word on the page, if you’re not concentrating properly and if you don’t know what it means can cause your brain to put you on autopilot where you feel you’re reading but your mind is elsewhere. This is another tip for speed reading…make sure you recognise when a word comes up that you don’t know.
Keep a dictionary nearby or if you are reading on your Kindle or other eReader, you can usually select the word and it’ll look it up for you and give you a pop up of the definition! Isn’t technology great…
This is one reason why your mind my wander…the other reason could simply be the fact that you’re not enjoying the book. Just as I said earlier, you don’t have to finish every book you start. If you’re reading for an hour and you spend half of it on autopilot with your mind elsewhere, then that is 30 minutes wasted. It’s 30 minutes that could have been spent reading a book you do like!
Kindle Unlimited was and is Amazing. If you’ve got an Amazon account I highly recommend you giving it a go…you can get the 30 day free trial just like I did. I only planned originally on just doing the trial but I got so much value out of it that I just let it roll. I was spending more than £7.99 on books a month anyway so a place where I could get as many books as I wanted for that price just made sense to me.
You can just cancel the subscription after the 30 days though and you won’t get charged but you also won’t have access to all the books nor any that you had read for free during the trial.
But I Wanted MORE!!!
What can I say…I’m a self proclaimed obsessive.
Was I happy with just Kindle Unlimited? Of course not. I wanted to read more books. So what does Amazon start doing? They start targeting my online ads with adverts for Audible!
You can probably see where my obsessive mind went when I learned that there was a ridiculous amount of audiobooks available out there to devour. I could use some of my podcast time to listen to books…WINNER!!
I’d heard of Audible before and I actually already had an account (for some reason). I can’t really remember why I’d signed up…well, most likely for an audiobook I’d hazard a guess, but my account was still active so, I jumped in and added audiobooks to my reading obsession. Audible have a subscription similar to Kindle Unlimited where you can get one free book a month, which means that when you sign up for your 30 day trial, your first book is FREE
The great thing about Audible, was that, if I had the eBook version of the book too I could interchange between reading the book on my Kindle and listening to it on Audible. As I read a lot on the underground (the subway for my non UK audience) during my commute to and from work, I could read on the tube and then when I got off to walk I could just switch to the audiobook and it would sync to the point where I’d left it when reading on the Kindle…it was so good…Thank you Amazon
How Did I Curb The Obsession?
Having a reading obsession like I had isn’t sustainable. It caused me problems in other areas of my life. Just as I talk about in ‘The Amazing Me Project’, my obsessive mind would take my focus away from other areas of my life causing it become unstable. I had to stop reading so much. It was difficult, but I knew that I had to for the sake of my relationships.
I still read a lot, but I do so with control. My own Amazing Me Project has a daily objective to read at least 30 minutes of a business or personal development book and I’ll read fiction too just for a bit of a release from life.
It’s important to read. As an adult, we should be setting examples to the younger generations. Like me, my kids love to read. We have books all over our house and I think that this has helped with their development. Seeing their parents reading encourages them to read and the more they read, the smarter and more well rounded they get.
I love to read with my kids. I’ve gotten them obsessed with Harry Potter at an early age which is something I was never able to do as the books weren’t released until I was in my teens. Now I get to see them enjoying the books as children which is great.
So, what do I want you to take away from this article….well here’s my top six things, in no particular order for Reading:
- Make sure that reading forms part of your daily life. Whether you read for 30 minutes or 3 hours, fiction or nonfiction, make sure you are reading something,
- Don’t feel that you have to finish a book. If you don’t like the book after you’ve read a quarter of it, and you aren’t excited to get back to reading it, then don’t…as Jerry Seinfeld said to George about books…”They’re not trophies”
- Understand what the book is about before you start to read it. Getting a better understanding of what it is you are about to enter into makes it a lot easier to take in the information as your mind knows what is coming and it will lead you to less distractions.
- Keep a dictionary nearby just in case…oh, and whilst you’re at it, a pencil too. Don’t go drawing on your kindle screen, but you can make notes on your paper and hardback versions of books and eReaders have note taking abilities too for highlight paragraphs and sentences. In fact, on my Kindle, I can see where others may have highlighted text too so I know that what is coming up is important.
- Mix up your reading a bit. Read different types of books. What type to read and when to do it is up to you but it is often said that reading a business/personal development book in the morning is a good time to do so. Afternoons/evenings for fiction and then top your day off with a biographical book at bedtime. It’ll mean you’ll have three books on the go at anyone point but so what…we love reading don’t we!
- Don’t just read new books. The world has had books for years and years and there’s nothing to say that new books are any better than old ones. Maybe the language has changed a little and there may be some politically incorrect references by today’s standard but there’s a good reason why a lot of books have stood the test of time….it’s because they are good books. And do you know what else?…a lot of books are in what is called the Public Domain meaning that they are out of copyright which in turn allows us to get thousands of books for free. People repurpose a lot of books that are in the public domain and resell them (totally legal by the way) so if you’re looking to get an old book maybe try seeing if it’s in the public domain first as you may be able to save yourself some money.
So read…it’s as simple as that. We live in an age where it’s so easy to get hold of books. Amazon delivers in 24 hours. We can download pretty much any book we want to our tablets and eReaders…even our smartphones. We can listen to books as audio recordings. There’s never been a better time to devour books. The knowledge is just sitting there for you to tap into.
I suggest that if you haven’t done so already to get a subscription to Kindle Unlimited. It’s 100% free for 30 days and then only £7.99 a month after that for all the books you could ever read (ah…heaven)
Get an Audible subscription too. Again, there’s a 30 day FREE trial where you get one free audiobook of choice. Then, after the trial it’s just £7.99 a month and you’ll continue to get a free book a month. These audiobooks normally cost more than £7.99 anyway so after your first free one during your paid subscription you’re already saving money. There’s actually some really cheap audiobooks on there too, some for just a few pounds.
And what’s more, if you haven’t got an eReader to read your books on or listen to, then Amazon is your friend once again. If you’ve ever read ‘The Everything Store’, the story of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, you’ll know that Amazon created the Kindle as a loss leader.
The tablets are dirt cheap yet crazily powerful. Bezos knew that if he could get Kindles into the hands of readers around the world then they would come to Amazon to buy all of their books to fill it with…kind of genius really.
I use the Kindle Fire 7inch which is their budget tablet but it is so good. It’s great for reading but also for watching videos, games, apps…It’s no iPad but it is not far off, and for just £49.99 you won’t get a better tablet for that kind of price. I’ve bought them for people who work for me to use as tablets for as low as £39.99 at some points when Amazon has a sale.
And whilst we’re talking about books, if you haven’t read my own book, ‘The Amazing Me Project’ then get a copy right now for FREE by clicking the image below. It’s a book about setting and managing our goals in life and using project management tools to create the life we want.
What are your favorite books? Comment below with your recommendations for books and drop a link to Amazon or another store so I can find them and other readers can be inspired to check them out also
I love hearing about new books to read. You may have read my post where I list all the books that are mentioned in ‘The Amazing Me Project’. You can read it here and there’s sure to be something on there that you’d like.
I hope that’s inspired you to read…or read more.
Author of The Amazing Me Project, a tendency to obsess and all round good bloke 🙂