- Stop not reading things because they’re popular
Is it popular? Read it!
- Stop not reading things because they’re unpopular
Once you get through that clusterhump of negation, you’ll understand: Is it unpopular? Read it!
- Stop trying to agree with everything the author says
This isn’t medieval Europe and that book isn’t the Bible.
Every book, and I literally mean every book, has some value in it.
And also some crap. You decide which is which, not the glances of strangers or ignorant acquaintances.
- Stop trying to disagree with everything the author says
There is a technical term for someone who confuses the opinions of an author of a book with those of the reader. That term is “idiot”. With apologies to Mr. S.M. Stirling .
- Stop justifying your reading choices to the mainstream
Tell them to justify your (girl-)nuts. Anyone who would presume to cast aspersions on your reading choices can go perform incestuous acts with a female parent.
“A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.” ~ Jo Goodwin
- Stop trying to read every word
Skip it. The book’s not running away.
- Stop trying to read every page
Stop trying to force yourself to read every page/sentence/section. If the book is actually any fun (for you right now), it’ll make you read it unconsciously; it’ll make itself get read. The only thing you need to do is consciously skip the boring parts, the hard parts, the parts where you get bogged down and stop moving. Reading is a sport, a physical act, and that means motion is key. Move. Reading is turning pages. So skip. Skip it! If it matters, you can come back another time, another day.
- Stop taking reading seriously
Seriousness leads to worry. Worry to impaired cognitive function, AKA stupidity. The act of reading doesn’t require you to be smart, but it does require you to be not-stupid .
- Stop trying to read in massive chunks of time
Most of life is waiting. Most of life is disjoint snippets of time: two, three, five minutes here or there. That’s when you read. Life is fast cuts, like a Michael Bay/J. J. Abrams movie. The reason you “don’t have time to read” is because you’re expecting the cut size to change at some point, for that massive lull to come. Well, it’s not gonna. Stop trying and waiting for some golden multi-hour block: Assume that you’re not gonna get it, because even if you did get it, your powers of concentration wouldn’t hold up. Read books like you read the phone book or the Internet or SMS messages (cellphone texts). Skip all the boring bits without guilt or shame. Reading is skimming.
- Stop judging other people for what they read
“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.” ~ Søren Kierkegaard
Cut the Gestapo crap. They — other people– have rights, too. You have no right to impugn their choice of books or otherwise unduly influence their reading. People talk a whole lot about freedom of speech, but what’s really at stake here is something even more precious, even more sacred: freedom of thought. Freedom of mental association. Most grownups wouldn’t make fun of a person’s friends, why make fun of their books?
- Stop being afraid of being judged for what you read
“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not” ~ André Gide
Show what you read with pride, or at least without shame. You’ll repel haters and attract kindred spirits. I have a friend living in America who’s made a lot of Japanese friends just because of her habit of shamelessly reading Japanese manga in public. They come to her. I myself started being more open about the books I read and started to meet people that I actually like (rather than merely tolerate). In Japan, bookstores offer to put a cover on the books they sell you. Lame. Sure, it prevents the derision of haters, but it also prevents the admiration of fans and future friends.
We talk a lot about standing up for rights and protests and all that righteous stuff. People risk their lives to save other people. And that’s great. But arguably, the greatest courage is in these small daily acts of defiance against conformity. Social risk is objectively less dangerous than impending biological/physical risk, but (ironically) it takes more guts to take a social risk than to put your life on the line.
Any book can be good because the true value of a book isn’t in the words on the page but in the thoughts and associations it sets off in your head. So anyone who tries to limit what books you read and why is ultimately trying to limit your thought — your mind. This is shit of the bull persuasion. It doesn’t matter that they mean well. Incompetent drivers “mean well”. DO. NOT. ALLOW. IT.
- Stop thinking/whining that books are expensive
“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.” ~ Derek Bok
Books are by far the best value for money you will ever get on information. If anything, books are too cheap. Considering what you get in a book, they are far too cheap. Some of the most wonderful, life-changing books cost the exact same as what can only politely be described as literary feces.
Seminars? That’ Swahili for “paying money to have someone say a subset of the stuff that’s already in the book”
Videos? It’s all in the book.
Classes? That’s Sanskrit for “paying money to have someone read books to you out loud in a monotone voice and/or tell you what books to go buy and read so you can be tested on them”.
All of which is not to say that non-books have no value: they totally do. The volume and presentation of information can be a total game changer; classic example: you’re far more likely to replay an audiobook than to re-read a book. It’s just that pound for pound, bit for bit, in terms of raw information, a book will basically never lead you astray.
- Stop acting surprised that that one book isn’t the only book you’ll need on the subject until the end of time amen
Jon Biesnecker, who has a habit of building brilliant blogs and then letting them get deleted, once called this “the tyranny of a single source of information”. There’s a reason we have jillions of books and counting. Every book is incomplete. Every book. To my knowledge, even the major religions don’t rely on just one book.
- Stop complaining that that book is incomplete
Of course it’s in-com-freaking-plete, bee arch! See above.
- Stop expecting agreement
In fact, stop expecting, period. Stop expecting agreement. Stop expecting disagreement. Stop expecting to agree with everything in the book. Stop expecting the author’s statements to agree with all his previous statements. Stop expecting respect and praise from other people for the books you read. Stop expecting derision from other people for the books you read. Stop expecting any form of unanimity in any direction, towards or from anyone. There is always a mix of agreement, disagreement and indifference. Now, like Juba and Maximus, you’re free. Cue Enya song. You can thank me later.
PS: Yes, #9 is the most important.