We are taught to read one book at a time, from beginning to end. But the Internet has trained us to get information in many small bursts throughout the day. Each day, we get information in tweets, status updates, blog posts, news headlines, and occasional articles. This is not necessarily bad. We just have to adapt the way we read to the new paradigm.
We need to change the way we read like the way we changed the way we watch movies. Twenty years ago, if you wanted to watch a movie you had to go to a theater or rent a DVD. Then you would have to choose one movie at a time to watch from beginning to end. Today, you are presented with thousands of choices that you can stream instantly. You can watch part of one movie, then if you lose interest you can jump to another. You can always start again where you left off later. You can watch bits and pieces of videos on-demand. At any point in time, you can be in the process of watching several movies as your interest dictates.
You can do the same with books. It’s especially easy if you read digital books, but it also works if you have a library of books at home. Stream your books as you stream your movies. Have a habit of reading every day, but don’t worry about reading the same book from beginning to end. Pick up whatever interests you at the moment and read for whatever amount of time you have for reading. If you lose interest or run out of time, simply bookmark where you left off and put the book away. Next time you read, you don’t have to read the same book. You might be interested in a different book.
Entrepreneur and angel investor Naval Ravikant does this, and it makes a lot of sense. Online articles, blog posts, tweets, status updates, and news are all forms of text. Books are text. You can treat your book reading the same way you treat your online reading.
Treat reading as a stream of both learning and doing. As you learn things through reading, make sure you take action on what you learn. For a long time, I read a lot and never took action. The results were almost as if I had never read the books. If you don’t take action on your reading, it is a waste of time. Don’t build a backlog of knowledge and things to do and notes to look over. Learning and doing complement each other, and equal time should be allocated to each. When you treat reading as a stream of learning and doing, people will notice what books you are reading each day reflected in your actions. The books will change you. You will grow with each book you read.