The Sensational Results Of Slow Reading

This Week’s BIG Idea

If there’s a productivity hack I swear by, slow reading has to be it. Soon after I started learning about productivity, a topic that came up over and over again was speed reading. Numerous books and YouTube videos discussed hacks where you could read and absorb phrases and sentences quickly. But there’s something about this idea that really rubs me the wrong way. As Kevin Kelly said in his fantastic book Excellent Advice for Living, “When you find something you really enjoy do it slowly.” Of course, this is a generalized statement and as such, it doesn’t just apply to reading. Yet that’s where my mind went the first time I read that quote. At its core, productivity is about intention, not about hacks that allow you to do things quickly.

The opposite of speed reading is slow reading. This involves slowing down the speed of reading so that you can comprehend it or enjoy it. What I do is read at an average speed and when I encounter something I don’t understand, I reread it as many times as I need to. Sometimes this means that I have to go back to previous sentences so that I see the larger picture. Other times this means I have to reread entire paragraphs or chapters and that’s fine.

I don’t expect to be rewarded for reading the most books. I read to learn not to brag about the number of books I’ve finished. In fact, I don’t finish many of the books I start, but that discussion is outside the scope of this conversation. This sentiment is echoed by Ryan Holiday, in a blog post titled “Reading Isn’t a Race”. In the article, Holiday said, “This is not something to be rushed through, but enjoyed, savored and done deliberately.” 

But Kevin Kelly isn’t the only author who’s in favor of taking things slowly. Naval Ravikant once said, “The smarter you get, the slower you read.” In the book, The Almanack of Naval Ravikant, the topic of reading comes up several times. Among many other topics, Naval talks about reading a few books that represent a solid foundation for knowledge and the advantage that understanding the basics of a topic gives you over everyone else. Ravikant also said, “Reading a book isn’t a race—the better the book, the more slowly it should be absorbed.

As with most things in life, reading is a marathon and not a sprint. Do it often, but more importantly, take as long as you need. 

What I’m Working on

A topic that will come up often in this week’s newsletter is Doom Guy, John Romero’s memoir. In the book, Romero discusses how he worked on some of the most important games ever made (Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake). I’ve discussed the importance of reading for fun before, but I think this is worth mentioning again. While I love learning new things about SEO, entrepreneurship, business, psychology, personal finance, relationships, and so on. There’s nothing like reading something for the sheer pleasure of it. More importantly, books like Doom Guy (and memoirs in general really) teach you a lot about a variety of topics but they do it subtly and implicitly. Since I loved the subject matter, I also found some of those lessons more relatable. So go ahead, pick a book you’ve always wanted to read, and give it a chance.

What I’m Listening to

I knew that John Romero was working on a memoir, but I wasn’t expecting an interview in The Tim Ferriss Show. The interview is amazing and it discusses everything you’d expect, including Romero’s childhood, how he got into game development, and how id Software started working on Doom and Quake.

What I’m Reading

  • Doom Guy by John Romero: I’ve been meaning to read Masters of Doom, a book that chronicles the creation of the seminal first-person shooter Doom, for years. But I found something that’s arguably better. As I mentioned before, John Romero recently released an autobiography where, among other things, he discusses the development of the Commander Keen series, Wolfenstein 3D, and of course, Doom. I haven’t been this entertained with a memoir in quite some time.

What I’m Watching 

I want to start taking my finances more seriously, so I started thinking about the books on money I haven’t read. I’m familiar with most of the books on this list, so I didn’t discover anything new. That said, I’d like to review the summaries of some of the books I have read, such as Rich Dad, Poor Dad, or The Psychology of Money

This Week’s Quote

“Habit is far more dependable than inspiration. Make progress by making habits. Don’t focus on getting into shape. Focus on becoming the kind of person who never misses a workout.”

Kevin Kelly

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