An Unusual New Years Resolution

I resolve to stop reading so much.

I have an opposite problem to many people, and that is I read too much. Reading is okay, reading is good, but it started to become a time-consuming distraction that began to turn into a burden. No longer would I enjoy a single book by an author, now I had to read their complete works. No longer would I enjoy the act of reading, no, I had to gain everything from it and become much smarter and wiser. I couldn’t read literature for pleasure, I had to read it to become a cultured, educated person. If I wasn’t enjoying something it meant I was falling short of the kind of reader the author wanted, or that I was being too lazy in my reading.

Modified Reading Goals

  1. I am no longer going to speed read. If I find myself speedreading then I will stop reading the book. The act of jumping into speedreading is a sign that my mind is bored and I don’t even care if I retain what I’m reading, only that I flip the pages to the very end and call the book finished.
  2. I will stop reading books I don’t like. This has been a struggle of mine for awhile, the inability to put a book down, but I’ve heard from enough readers how glad they are to interrupt and stop a book they aren’t enjoying (I think of Tyler Cowen here). I need to start doing this as well. Why should I care if I stop reading a book I bought for a dollar at a library sale a decade ago, a book I bought on a whim because I thought it would make me smarter? The answer is I shouldn’t care whether or not I stop reading that book in particular, because A) no one cares if I’ve read it; B) I don’t even care if I’ve read it; C) I’m not taking notes or learning anything anyway, what am I possibly losing? Am I insane and think if I speedread this one through to the end I will somehow become smarter? Put. The. Book. Down.
  3. I will jump straight to the hardest books I’ve been avoiding. If I’m going to read, I may as well be supremely challenged by it. So because of that I am going to start on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. I’ve been avoiding it for over a decade. It may not be worth reading. I may stop reading it after 100 pages, but I will stop putting it off in favor of a breezy novel or non-fiction I know I can speedread and not feel bad about it. You see, I fear Kant will make me slow down and think. The Horror of It! Dear God, I writhe and fume at the very thought~! I may actually have to think! It dawns on me that a lot of reading has been done to avoid work and not feel so bad about it.
  4. I am either going to learn from the book I’m reading, or I’m going to stop. No more fooling myself about it, and this is why I’m going straight to Kant, but if I’m not actually going to get anything out of a book at this point, I don’t want any part of it (unless the book is selected purely for pleasure, but then it also has to deliver on that point as well).
  5. I will not read to avoid doing other things. This is a biggie. Too much of my free time has been spent in the avoidance of what can really help me out, including getting some real reading done. I’ve done this with chess too, where I’ll avoid 30-minute games, long games meant to help you improve and learn, to play dozens of bullet games, one-minute long blunderfests of joy and rage. It’s easy to get stuck in these ruts where you keep going for the candy-version of something instead of the steak-version. We all know we would prefer the steak-version, but it’s expensive and you have to know how to cook it to really get the benefit. The candy-version goes down easy but gets painful if you have too much and for too long.



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Some serious and some satire articles. Only I know the difference.