I look forward to those Sunday mornings when I can sit down with a cup of coffee and read through the Farnam Street Brain Food Newsletter. Farnam Street, founded by Shane Parrish, shares information on mental models, decision making, learning, reading, and the art of living. The material on the site provides a real, meaningful alternative from the crap that exists in other parts of the internet and social media.
This morning’s Brain Food newsletter caught my attention with it’s lead article Why You Shouldn’t Slog Through Books. A couple of years ago Farnam Street suggested a way to read more and make your way through large books: form a habit of reading at least 25 pages a day, every day. The thought was that if you keep that habit up, over time you will make some considerable progress through those huge volumes that you always wanted to read, but couldn’t find the time.
The post in this Sunday’s newsletter addressed two misconceptions about that first article. First, the 25 pages was a minimum not a maximum. Reading at least 25 pages will help you form a habit, and there will be many times where you’ll find yourself keep going.
Second, if you don’t find a book interesting, don’t keep reading it. Just because you’ve had a book recommended to you, or it’s a classic doesn’t mean you have to read it (unless this is my daughter reading this and the book is a homework assignment). Put the book aside – you may find it’s a better tie in with your interests later. Or, you may find that you can consume the book better in different ways – ie audio.
That second piece of advice especially caught my eye. I had started a quest to read Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy (affiliate link) and while I found the subject matter interesting, I also found that it couldn’t hold my attention reading it. I found myself switching back to the library on my Kindle App to see what other books I was missing out on while I was reading this one.
The Farnam Street Post helped me to remember that the way I consume history and large works like Russell’s book is to listen to them, not read them. So I downloaded the audible version of the book (affiliate link) and can now turn my attention to books I’ve been meaning to read and summarize for this site and for kbp.media.
I wasn’t previously aware of the 25 pages a day suggestion, so finding out about it comes at a great time. I was looking for a way to put my evenings at home to good use rather than roaming around social media getting irritated. This provides a nice path forward to make progress through my backlog of books and help me to identify ways to continue living an effective life.