I was in a habit of binge watching TV shows to help me relax in the evenings. I would watch them for 20 - 40 minutes each evening (this may be even longer if I was in a bad mood). This was my way of relaxing. It is passive and low value add activity, which I wasn’t to happy about. I’ve decided to opt for reading instead.
Benefits of regular reading
There are countless articles about the benefits of regular reading, just google “benefits of regular reading”. This is a random article that comes up first in the list and does a good job of explaining the benefits of reading. I don’t think that this is controversial or that many people would disagree with that, but I’d be interested to hear if someone thinks otherwise!
I enjoy learning new things and reading is one of the easiest ways to acquire new information and see different perspectives. Better writing is another great benefit that will reinforce my identity as a writer and will help me improve my writing.
Stress reduction is another thing that I’m after in the evening. I want an activity that would help me wind down after the day. However, reading doesn’t always do the job the way I have expected it to. If I’m reading something interesting my brain starts firing off ideas and connecting the dots between the ideas in the book and my day-to-day life. I get excited about things quickly. This combination means that after reading an interesting chapter I need to spend the next hour trying to calm myself down so I can fall asleep, which isn’t ideal. To help with that, I make a note of every “great” idea I have, which empties my head and helps avoid worrying that I will forget something during the night. Overall, I do feel better and less stressed after reading though, so I’ll see how often do those sleepless evenings happen.
Downsides of reading
While reading is generally considered to be a good activity, I was curious if there are any downsides to this. Apparently, in some cases reading can have negative effects. The term used in the article was “vulnerable reader”, i.e. someone who is in a troubled state of mind, plagued by severe personal problems, or affected by dramatic life events. I’ve also found random internet articles that talk about how reading can be boring time waste, which, while not necessarily wrong, seems more like a subject opinion rather than a well backed argument.
As mentioned before, activated brain and difficulty falling asleep after a good book seems like a real downside for me compared with TV shows. Will experiment with reading novels to see if that helps because it is closer to watching TV shows than reading educational books is.
I reckon that at my current pace of reading I should be able to get through a book every 2 weeks, which means I would read about 26 books in a year. I will also aim to write a review with a list of my personal takeaways for each book that I read. I will use my reading habit to fuel the ideas for things I could write about and habits I could develop.
With the amount of reading I plan to do (which is at least 30 minutes each evening) and my reading speed one could get through more than 1 book every 2 weeks. However, I don’t want to “just” read a book. I want to take something away and test the ideas in practice as that’s the best way to learn something. There’s no value in simply reading a bunch of words. To paraphrase a famous saying, “what’s the difference between someone who didn’t read a book and someone who read it, but their lives didn’t change because of it?” (the original one was about there being no difference between someone who doesn’t know how to read and someone who doesn’t read).
I anticipate that there will be some books that I will start reading, but I won’t enjoy or find useful, so I won’t try to finish every book. I will not write a review for a book that I didn’t finish, but I will comment on it in my monthly habits review.
I’m very excited about developing this habit. I feel a lot more refreshed after reading a good book compared to watching a TV show. I have already had a bunch of great ideas come out of reading good books. I hope I can find a way to avoid spending time getting all of the ideas out before I can fall asleep though.