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How to enjoy and benefit from reading

In our world full of stress and constant hustle and bustle, reading remains not only a solitary pleasure but also a powerful tool for personal development. I read because it's my way of cutting through the information noise. Books allow me to wipe the glass in my imaginary glasses, to get rid of unnecessary noise. But reading can also be just for entertainment, for escapism, for filling up with knowledge. And all of these purposes can overlap.

In this post, I want to share a few principles that can help you not only enjoy reading, but also make the most of it.

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1. Sometimes a book can suggest a solution to a problem or support you through a difficult time.

I emphasise - sometimes. After all, we learn from experience. But I believe in "book accidents" when you find yourself with a text at the right place at the right time. I had that with Viktor Frankl's "Say Yes to Life!" and Edith Eva Egeroy's "The Choice." As you know, they are autobiographies and both avors went through difficult life stages but managed to survive. Often the answer is unexpectedly found in fiction. And, of course, in non-fiction (on psychology, public speaking, on how to handle difficult negotiations). Choose works that can answer your questions and inspire you.

2. Don't let other people's lists dictate your choices.

All those "top 100 must-read books" are just a common marketing ploy to increase traffic. There is no such thing as required reading. It's all left over from school summer assignments. You have already done your "required" minimum, and it is not a fact that you read consciously and remember something from that list.

Tailor your choices to you. Not to Oprah's or Reese Witherspoon's or anyone else's book club. If you like a certain genre or author, keep reading it.

3. Quality is more important than quantity.

If you don't get paid to read, you don't have to force yourself. For some people, reading is not only a pleasure, but also a job. Authors, podcasters, teachers - they have to read to advance in their field. Don't compare your reading achievement to theirs. Everyone has their own pace and choices.

4. Reread and don't finish.

Our perception of a book changes over time. To read the same novel at 20 and at 40 with completely different experiences is an amazing thing.

And don't hesitate to toss uninteresting books. Many books aren't "bad" per se; they just aren't right for you.

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5. Switch off all notifications while you're reading.

Whether you're reading a paper book or an e-book, put your phone in notification-free mode. This will help you focus on the text and avoid distractions.

6. Create rituals.

Reading is already a great ritual, similar to meditation. Make time for it if you have the opportunity. I like to read in the afternoon when I take a short break and in the evening before bed.

I also like to bring books back from travelling. They remind me of the atmosphere of a place much better than banal fridge magnets.

7. Highlight and take notes.

I read in Apple Books on my iPad. It's very convenient to highlight text in different colours, make notes in the margins and leave bookmarks. It helps me to better focus on important thoughts, come back to them, and prepare for book club discussions.

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8. Speed reading techniques don't work.

Just believe it (I've tried it). People read at different speeds, usually determined in childhood. Those who never learnt to speak the text to themselves will read slower.

If you want to quickly familiarise yourself with a text (usually books on self-development or popular psychology) - just read the first and last paragraphs - they contain all the main thoughts. Another good idea is to read book excerpts on sites like GetAbstract or Smart Reading. If you like the main ideas of the book - read the full version.

9. Discuss and join a book club.

I am as biased as possible here because I am the moderator of the club. Participants often say that during the discussion they discover such thoughts and horizons in the perception of the text, which they did not notice during individual reading.

10. Use the Feynman Principle.

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman formulated a learning algorithm that helps you understand any topic more quickly and deeply.

- Take a piece of paper. Write the name of the topic at the top. Try, by drawing diagrams, to explain the topic in a way that is understandable to a child. Not your clever adult friend, but an eight-year-old.

- If you begin to use terms that are unfamiliar to the child or cannot articulate any part of the concept, go back to the material (book).

- State the topic again, rearranging and supplementing previous notes.

- Tell someone about the subject you are studying - so that the person understands and assimilates the information.

Reading is not only fun, but also an opportunity for continual growth. Enjoy each book, be open to new ideas, and share your reading experience with others.

Photo by Stocksy\Lupe Rodríguez


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