Reading more

I’m not a great reader.

I have every intention of reading more, but I go through long periods of not reading outside of my work. For example, 2021 was a bust in terms of reading progress.

I’ve got off to a better start this year. I’m trialing audiobooks on my morning walk. I set aside the last hour of the day before sleep to turn off the TV and read a book. I’ve got far more comfortable reading on my phone (hello Kindle and Libby apps).

The truth is it feels good to read. In the moment it can be quite relaxing or an escape from the busyness of the day. If I read psychology oriented stuff I feel like I am investing in my work. I also hope that exposing myself to different writers will make me a better writer (fingers crossed).

Late last night (I couldn’t sleep) something obvious but important dawned on me. You can’t really form a sophisticated opinion on a topic, unless you’ve made at least some attempt to digest the facts and other people’s opinion on that topic.

I’ve spent the last year or so really trying to refine my own thoughts on a range of topics (mental health, productivity, behaviour change etc). An example might be my efforts to get my thoughts about mental fitness in writing. In essence, organising everything I have learned up until now. It has been an intellectually challenging but rewarding process. I think I explain my thoughts on those topics much better now than I did even a couple of years ago.

But I feel like I am reaching the limits of my acquired knowledge. To move any further on those topics, I have to immerse myself in others’ explorations. More reading required.

I am also mindful that when I am teaching, I don’t adequately acknowledge where many of the different concepts I talk about have come from. Part of that is because the source of some of your knowledge gets lost over time. But part of it is a kinda self-centered laziness.

Academically I was raised better. I was taught to reference and persuaded of its importance. Somewhere along the line I got waylaid. Perhaps I wanted to claim that knowledge as my own. But even outside of academia, good writers highlight their sources and then show how they’ve taken or adapted those ideas for their own context.

I need to get back to that.

And upping my reading will help, because I can reconnect with the experience of assimilating the wisdom of other authors.

On the reading list at the moment are:

How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Katy Milkman

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

Find me on Goodreads

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