I Hated Reading
Updated: Jan 21
"Roughly a quarter of U.S. adults (27%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year." - Pew Research Center (Sept. 2019)
Growing up I really hated reading. I mean, I really hated reading. It didn't capture my imagination. It didn't get me excited. Quite frankly, it was probably my least favorite activity of anything school related. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that there were lot of limitations in my household around helping me to read and comprehend better. First, growing up in Germany with parents who weren't native speakers and teachers who weren't very inclined to help, and then with having to learn a third language when my family moved to America definitely did not help the cause. And to add insult to injury, as if my imagination not being captivated was not bad enough, I was also a painfully slow reader. My spelling was poor, and it was something that just was a constant drag. I’m glad I started this blog post off with some positivity.
I do, however, remember there was a glimmer of hope in sixth grade when I picked up my first Harry Potter book and I couldn’t put it down for days. It really was this magical world that actually made sense and was fun to read, and it got me to a point where I could at least deal with it and comprehend enough to appreciate the story. But, nonetheless, I would always find my mind wandering. And as life kept progressing and I finished high school and then college, I still didn't enjoy reading. I was a double major in economics and political science, the latter of which required tons of reading, and, I always found myself either skimming the notes online and then being able to BS a paper from it, or, I found myself just asking people for the outline.
Ironically, my nature has always been that of a curious child wanting to expand my mind, and yet reading books seemed like a waste of time to me when the alternative was to go do something that I considered actually interesting. Reading just seemed like a detriment to my life rather than an addition. As I reflect on this part of my life that mindset is something I deeply regret today. And that mindset began to change as I was approaching the end of my senior year of college. Maybe it was maturity, or the crippling fear of the unknown real world, but a light bulb went off. I started to realize that there was a lot of knowledge out there, and a lot of really smart people had written a lot of great things that I probably needed to tap into. For the first time in my life I began reading, not as a chore or as a homework assignment, but rather as a way for me to broaden my horizons. I began reading things that genuinely interested me and I wanted to learn more.
I guess I really am just a non-conformist because the moment I began reading out of curiosity rather than obligation I was hooked. That fascination was exacerbated when I went to a work conference and heard Simon Sinek speak. His talk was covering topics from his upcoming book "Leaders Eat Last." The topics he was covering about the art of business and leadership completely encapsulated my mind. After that, I went on a binge. And what I found was very unexpected. Reading books helped me think about how I think and thinking itself. It helped me to analyze my own thought process around how I approached problems. This mindset shift took reading from a chore to an incredibly fun and joyful experience.
Now, I completely know and understand some of you haven’t picked up a book in so long that you may have forgotten how to spell the word. So, I’ll make this easy for all the beginners. What I would challenge the people reading this to do is just to force yourself into reading one book this quarter. That’s between now and the end of March. Just one book. I can almost promise you that it will take you no more than 15 minutes a day. And see if this opens your eyes to anything new. Even if it's a topic that may not be overly interesting to you, see if it can nudge you in the right direction.
To make this a little bit simpler, I've attached a list of the five books that we’ve done a book club episode on (Atomic Habits episode is not out yet). That way you can read through to the end and then listen to the podcast episode afterwards to more deeply analyze the book with a virtual companion. I know that if you can just create the habit, of reading one book a quarter, it will have an incredible impact on your life and mindset. And your eyes will start opening to the opportunities around you at all times.
Happy reading everyone