Read one book per week. 20 pages a day. Try speed reading. Get a kindle and read in the subway, the bus, and your commute.
All such advice might sound familiar to you, aye?
How valid is it, though?
Depends on what you want to read for.
Reading for social signaling
Reading about two books per week, sharing your story in a blog or on social media, creating a course on reading better, and more — all of these are social signals. You’re not reading for leisure but for seeking external validation: to get a few likes and hearts on social media.
This surface-level reasoning takes away the essence of the activity — the real benefits of reading.
You’re becoming a part of a meaningless competition trying to get the attention of your peers. At the end of this exercise, you’ll most likely feel exhausted and unfulfilled: the opposite of what reading is relied upon for.
Why you should read slowly
Speed reading nerds will tell you life is precious, and you’re losing out time by not reading at 600 words per minute. Well, good for them. But if just reading “X” number of books at a blazing pace were the goal, then everyone ought to be wise.
Reading isn’t merely about snacking on words. It’s reflecting and trying to absorb them into your life. It’s being a part of the writer’s imaginary world and portraying yourself as the protagonist. It’s about relating to characters and acknowledging how the differences between people are what keeps the world colored and interesting.
It’s okay to only read a few books. But ensure they are ones worth reading in the first place. They should be worth getting back to, soaking in their words, and finding new meanings every time you reflect on their words. There are, of course, only a few such books in the world. So what’s the point of reading too many words too quickly?
Don’t bother to take notes either
Everything worth writing has already been written. The ideas shared are only rehashed by authors taking forms of new books — barring a few maybe. The frameworks of stories worth sharing already exist with us. What’s the point of noting them down, then?
Why can’t you let reading calm you? What will you get out of taking writing quotes from an author? Unless you’re a company managing your social media presence and trying to earn a consumer’s attention, such exercises are futile.
Read because you love reading. Read because it calms you and is a soothing exercise to go back to after a tiring day. Let those obsessed with deriving notes turn this pleasurable experience into a tiring exercise. You can tuck in with a cup of joe and a book in your blanket and keep up with reading slowly. Remember, slow is smooth, smooth is fast!