Introduction: The Read More Module
By Leo Babauta
I’ve been a life-long, avid reader of fiction, since I was about 9 years old.
Well, mostly. Though I’ve always loved reading fiction, there are some months when I don’t read much. I get distracted by the Internet, and so there are times when I refocus myself on reading.
What I’ve learned is that you can absolutely develop the reading habit, with a little bit of conscious focus.
In this intro, I’ll talk a bit about why we would want to read more, and what stands in our way, before we go into the how in the Read More module plan.
Why Develop the Reading Habit
To be honest, reading isn’t necessarily better for you than other great habits, like yoga and exercise and meditation and drawing.
But I think it’s a great habit anyway, and I recommend it to anyone, for a lot of reasons.
Just a few of those reasons:
- Expands your mind. When you read non-fiction, you’re expanding your knowledge of the world, and tackling thought-provoking questions that you might not otherwise consider. When you read fiction, you’re not only entertaining yourself, you’re finding new ways of seeing things, experiencing things you couldn’t experience otherwise.
- Solitude. When you read a book, you get away from the mindless distractions of the Internet, from the chaos of the rest of the world, and submerge yourself into a world that’s just you, and the creation of this author. It’s some much-needed alone time.
- Improve empathy. When you read a novel, you put yourself in the mind of another person (even if a fictional one), and that forces you to empathize. It’s empathy practice, which is compassion practice.
- Explore new worlds. Fiction transports you to another city, another country, even a fantasy land, a world of imagination and magic, lives different than yours. This isn’t possible otherwise.
- Learn new things. When you read non-fiction, you can learn new skills — learn the art of investing, cooking, new languages, and more.
- Become a better writer. I firmly believe I’m a decent writer mostly because of 1) practice and 2) reading a lot.
These are only a few of the reasons to read, but they’re a good start. Books open up worlds of possibilities, and they’re worth spending time with.
The Obstacles to Reading More
So if reading is so darn great, why don’t we all just do it more?
Well, obviously there are some things standing in our way, including:
- TV. Most people spend a lot of time watching TV all day. Other video entertainment too: DVDs, Netflix, online videos like YouTube, going to the movies.
- Social media and other online distractions. This is huge, of course. When people aren’t watching TV, they’re online, and social media and email and the like are what they’re usually doing.
- Smartphones. Arguably the same as the above item, it’s a new addition in the last few years that people have become addicted to … if they have a moment of quiet, they look at their phone.
- Busy-ness. Aside from all of the above, we’re pretty busy. We have so many things to do, and very little time to do it. Or so it seems, until you consider how much time we spend on the above three items.
- Distractions from kids, other people. If you’re a parent, reading when your kids are calling for your attention is difficult. Even if you’re not a parent, you might have a significant other, a roommate, a parent, a boss, co-workers, etc. who distract you.
- Online reading. While I do a lot of online reading a believe it’s a pretty awesome thing to do, there’s no doubt that it takes time away from offline reading. Neither is better than the other, but I think it’s worth forming the habit of offline reading.
With those in mind, let’s think about what it would take to overcome these obstacles and form the reading habit … we’ll do that in the Read More module plan!