What I marvel in others’ reading habits
These days, everytime I open up Facebook, there seems to be a new wave that is sweeping the FB-world. Sometimes, it is “I am a banana (or whatever), what fruit are you?”, sometimes it is “ALS ice bucket challenge” and so on.
Recently, my good friends Priya and Antara (may their tribe increase) pulled me into one more of those FB-waves. I think it is about the Top Ten books that I have liked. Or something like that. Much to their dismay, I have not written down any of the names of the books I have liked.
There certainly is an element of “If everybody else is doing it, then I am not going to do it” contrarianism that I revel in (btw, “contrarianism” is just a sophisticated word to give some respect to what can be referred to – and as my wife once famously did in a public forum – as “weird”). However, there is probably deeper reasons why I have never published my Top 10 books. And for the same reasons. I marvel at other people’s reading habits.
1. First and foremost, I do not read fiction. Much to my wife’s dismay, I do not watch movies either, for the same reason. I lost all interest in reading fiction about 25 years back. Which is when I probably voluntary saw a movie. Not sure why, but it simply does not interest me. Therefore, I am always intrigued by how everybody else can get them totally immersed in essentially completely made up stories.
2. So, that has narrowed me down to about 0.01% of all books published, I guess 🙂 Here again, I have no common themes – but I go thru “interest areas” during phases of my life. And I read up as much as I can for that period of time (usually lasts about two years) on that topic. Most of those topics are of little interest to my friends.
My current interest is around understanding “minimalist living”. I am early in this stage. Before this it was about “cocktails” (coinciding with my goal to work at a bar as a mixologist).
My previous interest before that was mostly around understanding “happiness”. There are books that most people have never heard of like “Wherever you go, there you are” that have deeply influenced me. As has “Stumbling upon Happiness”.
I remember, previous to that, I was deeply interested in understanding how our brains process logic. This was after my mom became a psychiatric patient and I wanted to understand how the brain processes data to conclusion. From “Story of the Human Body” to “Descarte’s Error” to “Predictably Irrational”, I must have devoured close to ten books on this topic alone.
3. Here is an interesting reading habit difference. Most of my friends, when I ask, say they have read their favorite book once. Maybe twice. I think most of my friends can absorb from one reading far far more than I can. It might have to do with the content (maybe our brains need a few data points in a fiction and it can “join the dots” in between). I tend to read my books many many times. I have probably read “The Power of Now” seven times. And the reason is, when I read these books, I think I get about 1% of what the author is trying to say. And most of it is because I can relate to recent events that I have experienced. Resulting in me picking up very different learnings and messages, everytime I read the same book!!!
4. Again, unless all my friends, I have seldom finished any book. I can get to about 70% and then I skim the rest. The good news is that most authors can get the core of their message out in ten pages. And you can usually get most of the ten pages in the first 10% of the book. The only reason they put in the other 90% is because their publishers advise them that nobody will pay 20 bucks for their book otherwise 🙂 Again, this might be a reflection on fiction versus non-fiction. The fiction, logic dictates, reaches the culmination at the end of the book and therefore, unless it is a very boring book, every reader is enthused to read till the end.
5. I also read a lot of business books. Just to give you an example, when I became a first time CEO, I must have read at least five books on “Common mistakes that first time CEOs make”. Usually, you get one or two “aha” moments from each of these books. But I have to, unfortunately, go thru the whole book often to get to those moments. Some books that reflect on businesses of the past – “A better pencil” or “Better by Mistake” have given me much more than a few such “aha” moments….
So, there you go, Priya and Antara. I think you were hoping for a simple ten bullet point list. Instead, you got an essay. Hopefully you got an idea about my reading habits and what I like….Curious about whether you two or any of my other friends can relate to what I am trying to say….