Reading: Thoughts and my game plan for improving this skill

Growing up, I never really liked to read. Yes, I knew it was one of those things I was supposed to do, but never really enjoyed it.

In 2009, instead of getting a “real job”, I took an 11 month backpacking trip through South America. It was on this trip that I learned to love reading (among other things).

Ever since that trip, reading has consistently been an important part of my life.

Reading for me now

Now, I absolutely devour books.

When I don’t have my Kindle I’m quite irritable. And now, thanks to Audible, I can listen to them as I walk around - which I started doing after I heard that your retention is actually the same as reading the book, who knew? I’m sure that’s debatable, but for me, it’s just another way to make my way through my very long (and growing) list of books.

I would rather read the best hundred books over and over again until I absorb them rather than read every single book out there.

Naval Ravikant.

I’ve been re-listening to some favorite podcasts by Naval Ravikant lately. He is incredibly wise, and the above quote got me thinking about my relationship with reading.

Naval is like some sort of modern-day Yoda. I listen/read, re-listen/re-read nearly everything he says.

He has plenty more, lots of them conveniently organized here, which you can see his “Reading” quotes there as well. Pretty good.

Reading for me tomorrow

I’ve always been goal-driven, but hate the idea of finishing something ‘just to finish it.’ After thinking about Naval’s reading quotes a bit more lately. I’ve decided to change up my mindset with reading.

My key takeaways from these quotes:

  • It’s ok to not finish a book. If I don’t love it, don’t finish it. I use a kindle and it’s easy to come back to it at some point later.
  • It’s ok to not read the book from start to finish. Jump around, both within the book and to other books if one doesn’t grab you.
  • It’s not just about ‘ticking another book’ off the list. As with nearly everything in life, quality is more important than quantity. Get in the habit of reading great books. Making sure I fully grasp the concepts of the books I do read is far more important. Focus on digesting, not just ingesting.
  • Books are VERY cheap. For $10 or $20 you get access to amazing wisdom. It’s an unbelievable bargain.
  • Lots of the modern day self-help books are very repetitive - lots of fluff without many new ideas. If the author has written a book to make money, it’s probably a pretty good rule of thumb to skip that one.

They say that you are an average of the five people around you. Sometimes we don’t have access to five amazing people directly around us. Books give us this amazing ability to tap into the knowledge and wisdom others that we wouldn’t normally have access to. I especially feel this way whenever I read anything by Naval. Until I can start hanging around him that is.

Remembering what I read

In an effort to better fully grasp what I read. This is my game plan. Instead of just opening a book and reading from cover to cover, being a bit more pragmatic about it seems to resonate well with me. I really liked this guys’ video:

  • Skim first. Go over the table of contents, jump to the back and read summaries. Start by reading the summaries online on what the book is about. It’s ok, it’s not cheating, it helps.
  • Highlight AFTER you read, then afterwards review your highlights. I always highlight, I don’t highlight correctly.
  • SUMMARIZE after you read. Short summary, containing most important points.
  • Seek out additional similar content when you’re reading (podcast, video, articles, other books). Watch a documentary on it, etc.
  • MIX reading with DOING.
  • After you learn something new, take a break from new info, go for a walk/hit the gym.


Reading will continue to be a large part of my routine. No, I’m not spending 80% of my day reading yet like Warren Buffett, but it’s something to work towards. I’ll continue to evolve, improve and stay curious.

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