Reading is one of the fundamental activities of my life.
I go to the library at least once or twice a week and order used books at great discounted prices from Better World Books about once a month. My dream is to live among books, which I already am doing in a way, whereas my life-long dream is to be the owner of a bookstore 😉
Home or library?
But for the longest time my problem has been, “too many books, not enough time”. People who love to read will be familiar with this problem. There are so many books you want to read, ten lifetimes won’t be enough. And there are always so many other things to do and deal with in life. How to find time to even read?
Then it hit me. It isn’t that I don’t have time to read, it’s that I simply don’t spend enough time reading. Instead I spend 2 hours here watching Netflix, 1 hour there aimlessly surfing through social media. Why not spend all that time reading instead?
So I quit my social media habit. I still post stuff, I still need my social media accounts to market my work as a photographer, sometimes I check the accounts of my friends and family to see what they are up to, but I don’t scroll through the feeds anymore. Mainly because I find the activity pointless (not to mention super boring), and also because that time can be put to so much better use.
Now I have an additional two to three hours a day to read, which I can then use to plough through the many, many thick, solid, intimidating titles that have been on my to-read list for the longest time: “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins, “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” by Siddhartha Mukherjee, “An Intimate History of Humanity” by Theodore Zeldine, “Einstein: His Life & Universe”, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”, etc.
Having so much more time to read a day also alleviates my I-will-never-be-able-to-read-everything anxiety. Sure, I still can’t read every book in the world, but at the very least I can get through many more books than if I were reading for just 30 minutes a day or every other day.
I am hugely inspired by Joseph Campbell, who famously spent 9 hours reading a day for 5 years.
And Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, who is undoubtedly ungodly busy but still has time to read voraciously and write about what he has read on his reading blog, gatesnotes.
My ever expanding bookshelf, organised into different categories: Religion, Philosophy, Psychology, Personal Development, Travel, Science, Memoirs, English Literature & fiction, Design, Photography, Sports, Personal Finance & Business…
As you might have figured out by now, I’m a nerd.
I read not only because it’s enjoyable to read (and it is, because words are delicious) but also because I want to understand more about myself and the world.
I want to know more about my brain, my body, my behavior, my compulsions. I want to learn more about what money is, how governments work, what the economic machine really means in our lives. I want to dive into big history, learn about how human beings came to be human beings, and gain a tiny morsel of knowledge about things like quantum physics and DNA. I want to go into the fascinating heads of Nina Simone, Elliott Smith, Joni Mitchell. I want to see how all things connect in this world.
I think I am so hungry to learn because I am hungry to live. My excitement for life feeds directly into my quest for knowledge through the simple act of reading.
The practical side of me also likes to read and pick up knowledge that I can directly apply to my life.
Reading was my gateway to meditation, swimming, running. Believe it or not, I started by reading about these activities rather than doing them. Why? Because when I can understand their philosophy and history, these activities become richer, more enjoyable and even more interesting to me.
To end, here’s a quote about how to read by fellow nerd Joseph Campbell:
“Reading what you want, and having one book lead to the next, is the way I found my discipline. I’ve suggested this to many of my students: When you find a writer who really is saying something to you, read everything that writer has written and you will get more education and depth of understanding out of that than reading a scrap here and a scrap there and elsewhere. Then go to people who influenced that writer, or those who were related to him, and your world builds together in an organic way that is really marvelous.”
PS: Follow my reading adventure on Goodreads. I’m also thinking of reviewing the books I have read on my blog like Bill Gates does, so look out for that if you are into this type of thing!