The Day You Became a Better Reader
And a better learner.
If you’re somewhat like me, you probably read books cover to cover. Until a few days ago, I couldn’t even arrive at the first chapter of a book without finishing the introduction.
For me, this approach to reading was ingrained from my school days when each and every book was meant to be started at the beginning and one works their way up until the end. Even the traditional academic books were mostly structured in a manner where one has to finish the first chapter in order to comprehend the second, and so on.
This changed for me recently when I picked up one of the worst books I’ve ever read. It was of a fictional genre and I was struggling to read through the initial five pages, even though the first page was captivating (I do this thing where I pick up a book and read the first few sentences of the first page. If it paints a vivid picture in my head I take it home with me).
Later during the week, I happened to share this disappointing experience with a friend. What she said in response completely changed the way I read today.
She said, “Well you don’t have to read every single page of every single book you pick up. If you don’t like it straight away, just stop reading it and start reading something else that interests you.” So simple, which is probably why the thought hit me like a brick wall.
Reading shouldn’t be a vanity metric. No one is impressed by the stack of books on your shelf. I’m certain that reading to show off was perhaps one of the reasons why I felt the urge to read books cover to cover. Because then it was a small intellectual win in my head. And that win wasn’t comprehensive to me unless each and every word in that book was read.
One needs to learn how to learn. And after my somewhat enlightening conversation with my friend, I’ve started reading purely to feed my intellectual curiosity. There are trillions of thoughts and ideas out there but the only ones I am interested in now are the ones that interest me.
Life is short and irrelevant enough to not be reading things you don’t want to.
I’ve learned how to stop reading something as soon as I find it boring. I’m able to flip through pages, grasping only concepts that appeal to me. Sometimes even starting from a random page. And I don’t buy into the idea that some books need to be suffered through initially before arriving at the interesting parts.
I say, if it doesn’t captivate you within the first three pages, stop reading it. Because a good author would have tried to do so.
Give this a try. I assure you, this is the day that you become a better reader.