Does that title sound familiar? For me it does. Since one of my fundamental beliefs is the duty to improve myself on a daily basis, I have picked up the habit of reading.
A disappointing claim
Admittedly, I consider myself a slow reader and therefore endeavored to improve my reading speed. I stumbled upon countless videos on YouTube, mostly presenting two hacks:
- Practice speed reading
- Replace books by audio books
While I didn’t dive into speed reading (I found it exhausting), I considered audio books. I tried Audible, an Amazon service that provides full spoken books as well as Blinkist, a service that offers summaries of books instead of the whole thing.
While one audio book can have a run time of up to 10 hours, Blinkist provides summaries of about 15 minutes. At first, I liked the idea of being super effective: Train in the gym while getting through a book was a very satisfying experience. I used Blinkist to “read” a whole book while cleaning my kitchen. After some time though, I noticed I could hardly recall the content of the books from the previous week.
The opposite approach: slow reading
After discussing this with a friend, he shared a very interesting view. He claimed the book’s content will eventually be forgotten, and the only purpose of reading is to apply its knowledge in the near future. More importantly, he said he never listens to audio books, because when focusing on something else, you will miss a lot of content of the book.
This got me thinking and I second his opinion today. If the goal with reading a book is to learn and apply its knowledge, books should be read slowly. I reckon one of the most important processes when reading a book takes place during the reading breaks. When you’re sleeping or doing something else entirely, you automatically process contents of the book, think about meaning of lessons and real life examples. Maybe you develop some questions that will be answered during your next reading session. Overall I think while reading is the transferral of knowledge, the processing of knowledge takes place in between reading sessions and is a crucial part of reading. I’m convinced that a book is most effectively read, when your mind is occupied with its contents for a week or more. This part is eliminated when rushing through a book in few hours or minutes. In particular, when doing something else simultaneously, your focus on the contents is lost and you even might miss crucial parts of the book.
I now consider myself a proud slow reader and have abandoned audio books at all.