On Reading

Published on by David A. Kennedy

Back in 2015, I wrote a pair of posts about how I struggled to read more at the time. I’ve come a long way since then.

In 2017, I began reading in earnest, finishing nine books. In the following years, I read 22, 35 and 28 books. What changed? It became hobby number one.

Let’s review the challenges I shared previously. Twitter and web browsing distracted me from engaging with books. I failed to keep up any reading momentum, losing interest in books. I didn’t carve out the time for reading itself, maybe expecting it to happen on its own.

The reason I improved my reading time came down to a few things.

Reading on a whim: Alan Jacobs encourages reading at “Whim” in his book on the subject. It means following your inclination for reading, not what you think you should read. This made me speed through books that I enjoyed. Pick up books I may have felt guilty about. Abandon books that didn’t hold me. It led me to read more nonfiction than fiction, and embrace that. I’m a former journalist after all, and I find real life too interesting.

Inclination over perfectly planned. This creates a virtuous cycle. The more you read that excites you, the more you’re excited to read.

Dedicating time to it: This doesn’t mean that I read at a certain time each day. It does mean that I read before bed, sometimes when I first wake up and in small pockets of time throughout the day. I don’t watch much TV. I cut social media way back. Reading won. It proved more nourishing for me so long as I follow my whim. Finding the time happens because I want to see what I learn next.

Sounds cliché, I know. But most worthwhile pursuits in life grow out of small bursts of effort here and there. They add up. Then you have something formative. I approach reading like this now. It’s a habit.

If you’re wondering what book I’m into currently, I have a reading page now. Happy reading!

Tagged PersonalReading