Why Should You Bother With Reading?
If you ask a room full of people to raise their hands if they would like to improve their ability to read, most hands will probably go up. But if you ask them to do the same if they consider reading is something they love to do, very likely only a few hands would be raised.
People who don’t read regularly usually had some negative experience with reading in the past. Let’s face it, reading is not an easy task which you can do effortlessly like brushing your teeth. Reading requires the attention and a lot of physical energy to sustain it. It is even harder to read when you don’t even care about the topic and in that case, boredom can set in really fast.
Reading takes time as well. Most adults read at a rate of 200 words per minute. An average book of a couples hundred pages can take many hours to go through. If they only read a few minutes each day, it may take several months to go through a single book.
The worst experience of reading for most people is the poor retention rate. By the time the last page is turned over, very little is remembered. You may be thinking to yourself, “What is all that about? I have achieved nothing from my effort. What a bloody waste of time!” No wonder people don’t feel like reading.
Like many things in life such as exercise and proper diet, you cannot fully experience the benefits of reading until it has become a habit. In my experience, the benefits of reading far outweigh the short term pain you may be experiencing right now. And I will now give you three of good reasons why you should care about reading.
First of all, reading is the most efficient way of processing information and turning it into knowledge. You may challenge this statement if you haven’t read for a while and you read slowly. You may also be thinking about the existence of different learning styles among people. Let’s put your own reading speed aside and purely look at reading as a means to obtain knowledge.
Human eyes can take in a staggering amount of information and transfer it to the brain. A research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine calculated the human retina can transmit 10 million bits of information per second. By comparison, a typical streaming speed of a broadband connection is about 1.5 million bits per second. And a speed of 5 million bits per second is sufficient enough to stream HD TV shows and movies from a service like Netflix.
If you translate the volume of information into text, 10 million bits of binary information will give you over 8000 pages of text if it is stored in a word document. That is over 40 books per second. Of course, the actual reading speed is also subject to your speed of comprehension and how fast you are turning the pages. As a result, the practical reading speed is much slower than that hypothetical figure. In spite of this, some of the fastest readers in the world can read thousands of word per minute and still maintain a high percentage of comprehension.
In contrast, most people can only listen at about 150 words per minute. With training, a good listener can listen and understand as many as 400 words per minute. That still has no comparison to the processing speed by reading. Given most presentation or audio programs are delivered at a rate of 125 words per minutes, listening to an average audiobook can take nearly eight hours.
Besides, if you are looking for some specific information, scanning a book is much quicker than having to rewind or fast forward with an audio track. Therefore a skilled reader can easily outpace an expert listener in processing information.
Secondly, reading is an excellent way to reshape your mindset.
Ideas and thoughts put into the written form have the power to challenge your mindset which has a tendency to remain fixed. Even though people argue the point that all changes come from within, it doesn’t mean changes can occur spontaneously without any outside influence. People don’t read often tend to grab hold on their old ways like grim death. Because mental habits like any other habits are self-perpetuating. It often doesn’t even occur to them there is a need to change. Because it feels right to keep it that way.
The only way to change your mental habits is through ideas which are drastically different to yours. They offer new perspectives or new sets of lens to look at the world so to speak. And one of the best ways to expose to new ideas is to read widely.
Of course, You can also change the way you think by finding a mentor or life coach. However having access to their knowledge or expertise in that way does not come cheap. A full-day seminar can cost you thousands of dollars.
In comparison, buying and reading a book from the same expert costs very little. Many experts package their knowledge and ideas into books or articles and make them available through the medium of publishing. With the internet becoming so readily available, you can gain access to a piece of their mind within minutes. Downloading a Kindle book or even getting a hard copy posted to you is not a difficult task.
What about those experts who don’t write books or articles? I doubt they will be able to maintain the expert status in their industry for very long. In this day and age, it is either “publish or perish”.
At last, having a healthy reading habit can give you a much better career perspective.
If you have been looking at job openings on the internet, you will probably notice that all high paying positions require some kind of higher education qualifications. To acquire a master degree or PhD requires you to read a lot and read quickly. At one medical school in the United States, medical students were asked to read 29,239 pages of information within 71 weeks. To obtain a PhD takes a minimum of 3 years and a significant portion of that time is spent on sifting through tens of thousands of scientific journals to come up with the materials for the final thesis.
It is hard work I know, and it takes time as well. But people who have gone through the process more often than not can reap the reward at the end. Well-informed and well-read people develop their expertise over time and industries are eager to pay high premiums for their skills and knowledge.
What about entrepreneurs and business owners? It is true that they don’t need any formal qualifications in order to be employed. However not having a high qualification does not equate “no reading is required”. People who have achieved extraordinary success in business are often voracious readers. Tony Robbins only has a high school education, but he has read thousands of books and written many books and programs. Donald Trump revealed in his book that he gets up early in the morning and reads several hours before going to work.
Business owners who don’t educate themselves through reading cannot effectively develop the necessary mindset to grow their businesses. Often than not, small businesses fail within one year since their conception. Statistics do not lie.
If you don’t educate yourself, you will stop growing.
When you stop growing, your life will shrink and contract.
Right now, if you are still not convinced that reading is a “Must” not a “Should”, you might be thinking, “I am a slow reader, and I haven’t got time to read.” If that is the case, can you spare thirty minutes each day? Sure you can.
An episode of evening drama takes about one hour to watch. Turn your TV off instead pick up a book that is lying around and collecting dust and read for half an hour each night. In 30 days, you will be able to go through two books. At that rate, within 12 months, you can read 24 books. By the time, you would have read more than what most adults would read in a life time. How’s that for a confidence boost!