We read what we love with ease. But we struggle to read what we dislike. So, want to improve your reading ability? Grab the books that really interest you.
Some people believe that only difficult books improve reading. Wrong! Consider exercise. Think about all the physical benefits people get from:
- A game of tag
- A casual game of soccer or basketball
- A 15-minute walk
Easy exercise six days a week is better than running until you collapse once a week.
Reading enjoyable books is like light exercise for the mind: it keeps you mentally fit.
The 18th-century British writer Samuel Johnson said, “A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good.” Forcing yourself to read a book is like making yourself play soccer while wearing a heavy backpack. How will you learn to love the game?
Also, at any reading level, most of what we read is the same from book to book. Many of the words and phrases in a high school history textbook will also appear in a typical adventure novel. So familiarize yourself with these words and phrases in the books you love; that’s how you learn to read harder material.
I’ve written more on this topic in this blog post. In the meantime, here’s a good trick for finding books that you love: Take advantage of the recommendation algorithm on Amazon. It works like this:
- Find the title of a book you remember loving.
- Scroll down to the “Customers who bought this item also bought” section.
- Look for books that have reviews of 4+ stars with at least a few hundred reviews. (I find that the books with only 4 stars or lower are generally enjoyable only for dedicated fans of the subject or the author.) At first, focus on the books that have the most total reviews.
If a book has 4+ stars and over a thousand reviews, it’s probably an excellent candidate.
- Click on the book title. Read the summary and a few of the reader reviews. If it looks good, buy it or check it out from the library. Chances are good that you’ll enjoy it as much as the book you loved.
I often meet parents who are upset with their kid’s reading: “He won’t read
the biography of Steve Jobs that I gave him! He only reads science fiction!” Relax. Maybe your son prefers physics to business. So long as he’s reading, he’s exercising his mind. That’s good. Give your kids as much freedom as possible to read what they love. Remember how easy it is for them to do something if they enjoy it.