Why do you even want to read a book?

Having a clear outcome in mind makes reading more engaging and effective

Each time I come across an article like that, I feel honoured. All these super successful, wealthy and intelligent people are taking the time to think about me!

I am sure you have seen such articles and listicles flooding social media posts and crying for attention. Heck! There are even book recommendations based on the season of the year. You like and share it with your network even if you haven’t scrolled through the book names because you don’t want to appear like a dud in front of your friends.

Maybe you did actually open those links and decide to add them all to your reading list — Amazon wishlist / Goodreads reading list / good old-fashioned note. You did have good intentions when you added these books to your list but never got around to them. The list has only been growing since and each time the thought of even opening the list and picking the next book to read is so nerve-wracking, we end up watching cat videos all weekend in your pyjamas.

Congrats! You added more guilt for being a sore loser who can’t even pick a book, let alone read it.

Humans are capable of experience a range of emotions and yet most of us are content with Anxiety and Guilt.

We are anxious

  • before doing something, because how the hell do you pick 1 out of the 999 other things to do
  • while doing something, because I don’t think I am ever gonna complete it
  • after doing something, cuz you know I will never be as great as Josh What’s-his-name

This isn’t pertaining to reading but has become the default for how we deal with life. And each time we break a promise we make with ourselves, we end up feeding the Guilt Monster. He loves those extra-cheesy jalapeno poppers on late nights followed by a super-size milkshake.

The key to a successful reading habit (or practically to succeed in anything) is to have a clear goal in mind. Stop caring about what Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or what your friends think and pay more attention to what you think.

More than 1 million books are published each year, thanks to self-publishing. There is no way you can read them all. And you don’t have to.

  • Not every book is meant for everyone.
  • Even the books that are suitable for you maybe not be applicable for you right now.
  • And not every book needs to be read in its entirety (we’ll get to this bit in the coming weeks).

Take a deep breath and let the reality sink in (like the Milkshake Man above).

So the next time you are about to add a book to your reading list, ask yourself this question:

Why do I want to read this book?

  • Is this going to help me with my career right now?
  • Will it help me pick a financial plan?
  • Is it going to help me heal my emotional trauma?
  • Will it teach me to be a better partner in a relationship?

Reasons are personal to each of us. It could be emotional or intellectual. But make sure there is a reason.

Now, go through that reading list of yours, one book at a time and identify why you should read it. You are not going to start reading them right away but prune the list. I assure you at least 20–30% of the books will be discarded. Not necessarily that they are bad books, but they are not applicable to you.

Let me know how the spring cleaning went with your reading list in the comments below.

P.S: This article was first published in my newsletter.

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UX Research & Strategy, Writer, Voracious Reader

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