Reading, like riding a bike, is something that once you learn to do it you do not forget. Which is why advice about reading sometimes seems odd. Read stuff you like, don’t read stuff you don’t like. Done.
Like with most things in life, reading represents a trade-off. Especially when reading is a big part of your professional life. I have recently come across some interesting takes on the reading dilemma.
Jason Kottke at kottke.org reads a lot, all day. Which makes sitting down to read a book challenging. Here is one thing he is doing to up his book reading:
I’ve also stopped reading books that don’t grab me, as interesting as they may seem and as acclaimed as their recommenders insist. If I’m reading something and I find myself daydreaming or wanting to check my phone or switching to an episode of something on Netflix, that’s a sign that I should put it down and find another book.
Michael Batnick at the Irrelevant Investor reads a lot as well. However he thinks you should stop reading books about business and read more business books. Let him explain the difference:
Books about business tell clean stories, often from an outsider’s perspective, on why things came to be. Books about business share anecdotes and quotes that are jammed into chapters like sardines, often failing to point out all the what ifs.
The what ifs are the most interesting part of business.
Bryan Ye at How to Live thinks you should just read and not worry about everything else. Let your brain do the hard work. He writes:
“Forget most of what you read” irks most people. But look, the advice isn’t telling you to forget everything you read. It means to stop trying to remember. Yes, you will retain less if you stopped trying, but that’s okay. If you do this strategy, you won’t really forget most of what you read, because even if you don’t consciously remember, you will subconsciously retain something. I don’t really forget most of what I read; it’s often that thoughts float around my head and try to become part of my greater mental model. But the key idea is that it requires no trying.
Morgan Housel at the Collaborative Fund think you should start reading a lot of books but only finish a few of them. Let him explain:
A good reading filter is more art than science. You’ll have to find one that works for you. The bigger point is that the highest odds of finding the right piece of information comes from inundating yourself with information but very quickly being able to say, “that ain’t it.”
Books represent the culmination of decades of education on the part of the author and years of writing. Yet we have access to them oftentimes for free. The only investment we need make is the time to read them. This asymmetry is one we should all be taking advantage of. The only problem is finding the time.