On Minimal Reading

My Reading Journey and the Lost Joy of Reading

Since I left home for college — I was exposed to the world where I could read almost any book (in English) I wanted, and no amount of reading was enough.

I tried many books — spent hours in library to find the right book — borrowed many books. I could even finish some of them.

In my last year (fourth year) of college I saw a friend’s Kindle and it seemed to be the solution to all the issues I had with reading.

Within a few weeks I had my own kindle with all its convenience and cheaper books that I could own.

But it was never enough.

It was not perfect.

I thought it was the ‘feel’ of physical book that was missing.

When I started earning, I started buying physical books — I have collected over 50 books in last 4 years.

I haven’t read more than half of them.

Looking at my collection always brings a feeling of guilt and shame — the burden of all those unread books I bought.

When I started writing this blog, I created an Instagram account with the same name and started writing about the books I read.

Last year(in 2019), I completed 20 books — while aiming for 52.

But something was still missing.

I always thought what’s missing was more books.

Maybe I haven’t read enough.

Not as many as I could have.

But what about the ones I have read?

What do I remember from the ones I have read? What impact have they left on me?

How important they are in my life?

What part they are playing in my life?

Have we become lifelong friends or was it just a short fling?

Were those books just an entry in some list curated by someone that I had to check?

Going back further in time… when I was in school and the only quality literature I had access to were my textbooks and occasional articles in Newspapers.

The joy of reading I felt that time is lost now.

The impact those readings made was significant.

It made no sense why my older self with much limited resources should enjoy more and get more out of reading?

I spent days trying to learn ways to absorb more from the book, to read more books, learning about speed reading, exploring audio-books.

But no significant improvement.

Why to Read Fewer Books

Few days back I came across the article:

This made me realize that limited resources was the significant difference then.

Now I have unlimited content to consume — more than I can finish if I spend every minute of my remaining life reading at 10x speed.

I keep adding books to my to-read list whenever I find something even mildly interesting.

We are drowning in books, we have no time ever to re-read one and we appear fated to a permanent sense of being under-read when compared with our peers and what the media has declared respectable.

It is like a race to read certain number of books where I just need to get done with the book — mark it complete, post a review and never think about it again.

What’s the purpose of this reading?

Just to be able to mention the titles in conversations? — I won’t be able to have a good discussion about the book anyway because I haven’t *read* them and I don’t remember what the story was, who the characters were.

The most I can recall is a vague reflection of the story and some lines from the reviews on Goodread.

I never asked the most important question: “Why am I reading this book?”

The closest answer I can think of for most of the books I have read lately is that ‘those are good books’. It’s a very weak reason to justify the effort of buying and reading a book.

It doesn’t tell anything about why am I reading the book.

The more we understand what reading is for us, the more we can enjoy intimate relationships with a few works only.

The article convinced me to put a limit on the books I read.

The immediate benefits I could see:

  • More time to enjoy a book
  • More time to re-read the books

What Next?

I hope putting the limit will help me regain the joy of reading and I’ll be able to absorb those few books better.

I have decided to read only 7 books in the year 2021.

It was very hard to come to this number: from one book a week to one book a month and then finally one book every two month. I couldn’t stop putting one more slot for the buffer.

The books I have picked:

  1. Elements of programming Interview
  2. Autobiography of a Yogi
  3. Inner Engineering
  4. Psycho-Cybernetics
  5. The Great Mental Models
  6. Calvin & Hobbes Series: Book Fifteen There’s Treasure Everywhere
  7. < to be decided/>

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