How I picked up two books that I dropped for two months

28 Jan 2021

I'm not a reader. I only read for school. Or for homework. Or if my parents made me do it.

To be frankly honest, I didn't like reading. I would rather spend my time coding something or watching youtube. Not reading times new roman font on paper.

I bought a few books 2 months ago. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari and How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie. I bought them because I thought they were interesting. There were some good reviews on amazon and a lot of my friends told me to pick it up.

Sapiens arrived first so just like what any other 14yr teen would do, I started reading it first. What I even tried doing was literally taking notes on the book. Note-taking in general is viable for books only up to a certain extent. In my case, I was taking notes on every single page treating it as if those books were a goldmine.

The fact is that I wasn't optimizing for actually understanding and reading the book. I was only optimizing to see how many words I can write down on a notion page at 5:30 in the morning. I did this for two weeks. At the end of two weeks, I had 3000 words written down and only 30 pages completed. Every single thing that I wrote down could've been read from any other high school textbook.

I was so eager to understand the book that two weeks later, I stopped reading. I just gave up. I couldn't understand how I could read them. I didn't know how I could understand them. I threw them in the back of the drawer in my table and continued working on other things. For two months. I didn't even want to think about the thought of reading books. I didn't even have a structure to read them, how could I even read in the first place?

The other book (How to win friends and influence people) came around 3 weeks after Sapiens had arrived. By then, I literally forgot I ordered the book and when it came, just like Sapiens, I threw right in the drawer. Ready to see it once I actually develop some methodology to reading books.

I was waiting for some Chamath speech to change my life and make me love books again. I never really thought about the fact that exploring books myself and figuring it out.

We're taught to listen and memorize whatever other people speak in school. I was waiting for someone to just tell me this so I could do my reading homework and be able to show up tomorrow telling everyone that I read this book.

I felt kinda disappointed. I've wanted to read books but I didn't want to go through the hell of wasting two weeks for 30 pages. I started reaching out to people asking what their method to reading books was. I got a few tips here and there but that didn't seem to cut it.

I decided to try reading at constrained times where I'm going to have to cut off reading. I started reading 15mins before every single call I had so that I'd get off my book and not spend meaningless hours on notes. That did work to a certain extent but that passion for reading books still died out. I didn't want to read books still, regardless of the fact that I stopped taking notes.

So I tried something that sounded stupid. No notes. No nothing. Just sit your ass down and read the book. Forcing myself to read sounds completely stupid but it did work. It did work for a few days but it still did fluctuate.

I decided to really put a strict deadline on this. Someone, who hasn't read a book without having a love-hate relationship with it decided to actually finish the book. By the end of this month.

I picked up Sapiens again on January 26th. I was at around page 150. I finished the book today (literally an hour before writing this). The passion for books has come back. I'm now starting to read books a lot more and am planning to finish Carnegie's book from start to finish in the next 3 days.

How I did this? To be honest, I don't know. What I do know is the fact that I started to allow myself to simply read the book without any worries of taking notes or just simply sitting down the book and allowing it to pain on the canvas (aka me).

That's my advice to you. Whenever you read a book, let it flow. Read it naturally. Don't let stupid things like notes get in the way. Be the sponge that absorbs information and not impurities such as those worries.