3 things that stopped me reading and 3 things that turned it around

Recently, I began reading books again. This is big because I believe it will drastically improve how I navigate life. When change happens, there’s a variety of factors involved, often working together. Here, I share some of the factors involved in how I stopped and rediscovered reading.

How I stopped reading.

1. Poor note taking system.

A large part of the value I get from books is from the notes I take from the book. These notes are special to me.

When I was in high school, I approached books in this way, noting down whatever stood out to me. To this day, I have the folder of Word documents holding the notes I typed down.

As you can imagine though, typing out paragraphs is a time consuming process. The effort and time required put me off continuing to take notes which made reading less valuable, less special.

2. Overcommitment to books.

There’s a saying that books should be treated cheaply. The implication of the saying is that, as with all cheap things, if it isn’t helpful, just move on. No need to overcommit.

But not committing to something hard isn’t easy for me. I always thought that commitment is synonymous with strength, grit and success.

So, if I started a boring book, I couldn’t let it go. This resulted in books being read beyond their useby date and made the reading process very, very boring. Not only that but choosing a new book to read also became the lottery pick of death. No thank you.

3. No desire after a day’s work.

I used to have a white collar job that involved large amounts of screentime and monotonous reading.

In this context, spare time was a golden slither of the day to be enjoyed to the absolute maximum. To take full advantage, I pursued hobbies that were completely different to work and looked interesting (like salsa dancing).

The desire to do personal reading was simply not there.

How I rediscovered reading.

1. Self Authoring writing programme.

I was doing Self Authoring, articulating the faults and virtues of my present self. (Serious stuff!)

After having articulated my faults and virtues, the programme asked me to reflect on how I can respond to them in order to craft a better life.

What happened next surprised me.

My responses to a wide range of situations nearly all involved reading. Reading was the glaring answer to an array of problems.

It couldn’t be ignored.

2. If you want to be remarkable, read.

Around this time, I was also listening to a podcast, and this podcast hit the point home. Big time.

Kevin Kelly said something to the effect of: If you want to be remarkable, read. He continued: I don’t know any role model of mine that doesn’t read more than I do.

I paused for a moment and thought about who I look up to. Yup, they all read a tonne of books. The logic felt simple. To become someone remarkable, reading is a must-do.

3. Falling in love with my Kindle (and highlights).

I became convinced of the goodness of reading in a hostel in Bogotá, Colombia where accessing English books isn’t too easy.

To have get easy access to English books while travelling, I got myself a Kindle and wow, it’s been amazing.

The main benefit I enjoyed has been how easy it is to highlight parts of books and email myself a summary of highlights. As a result, I feel a huge value add from the reading I’m doing. I’m not just learning something now, I’m seamlessly storing up pearls of wisdom for future me. A gift to my future self. Something special.