Why Read? The Principle, Not The Program.


Today, on my way home from work, someone on the subway that I was standing next to turned to me and said, “speed reading at its finest, eh?” “Huh? Oh… I guess…” I replied. “You’re really good at that.” he said as he stepped off at his stop.

This got me thinking…

Why do people read? Now, before you browse my Instagram account*, or check out my Suggested Books* and assume that I’m some voracious reader—understand that I actually never really liked reading. In fact, I really hated reading! Even still, I’m not a big fan of what most people would call “reading”.

So, what is it that I’m doing? I’m looking at the Principle, not the Program.

Why do you, yourself, choose to read? Is it entertain yourself? To kill time? Or to learn something new?

For the longest time, I thought all books were the same. After all, the ones they have you read in high school and elementary (books I never ended up finishing, only Sparknotes’ing, by the way) were all so dreadfully boring. Was everything just a story? A long-winded tale that I really could care less about?

Most people who “read” (if this is you, disregard the rest of this blog post here and stop reading it entirely…) will say that they read fiction, non-fiction, biographies, etc. But I ask you, why read in the first place? Is it to entertain yourself? To kill time? Or to learn something new?

“I just like to curl up with a good book.” You’ll hear a lot of people say.
“I want it to take me to a different world.” Others will respond.
Myself? I want to learn something new.

In the words of the great Firas Zahabi*, who put it so eloquently, “a lot of books out there have a lot of fluff… if you could distill a 300 page book into 100 pages of meaningful content, then that’s worth something.” (paraphrasing…)

I whole-heartedly agree!

For those of you out there who see me reading super quickly, realize—I’m just bypassing the fluff. I read so fast because I’ve trained my eyes (though, this did take tremendous practice and discipline, to be honest) to summarize large sets of data that I seemingly “skim” over and pick up on only the important things that are being said (these are typically the points of interest I will highlight and share with the rest of you).

So, again, why is it that you read? To be honest, if I wanted to be entertained or kill some time, I would either (1) read every word slowly and carefully, or (2) likely not read at all…

Knowledge is out there and its ripe for the taking. Its barrier? The written word.

Be less impressed with my apparent knack for reading and be more curious as to why it is that you choose to read in the first place.

-maybe it’s not even really worth your time.