Something I Learned About Reading

At the pace I am progressing with my studies, I will have my degree in another 5 years – when I am 55! I managed to squeeze in 2 modules per semester so far, studying in between counseling sessions and conducting online classes. I was not prepared for the amount of reading that I had to do. 2 topics are to be completed every fortnight and no less than one hundred big textbook pages (with really tiny letters) to be read as well as numerous research papers – if you want to dive deep. And unfortunately for me, I am a deep diver – one of those neurotics who has to get to the bottom of everything.

So I learned to read a lot. At first it took ages. I was getting so frustrated as the fortnight came to a close and I had not completed even half the reading material. My kids suffered through the process as I started to therapize their comments and interactions. But they took it well – good kids I have. Feeling very blessed. Anyhow, I realized that I was picking up speed in my reading.

By the end of the 4th month or so, I have become a much faster reader. As I read, my interest in psychology began to pick up as well. By the 6th month, I am reading more and more research papers that have been made available to me through online University library. I also find that I spend less time doing the lesson plans for my students because I have learned to store content in an efficient manner all organized without too many frills – on OneNote. One of the greatest feelings I have experienced is that everything is falling into place very quickly. Instead of googling for quick answers, I now have stories to tell about a concept. I don’t know what my students think of my lectures, but I am loving it for sure.

Recently I was lamenting to a friend about how I am struggling to lose 5 kilos. It sounds so silly to complain about 5kg when people are trying to lose much more. But then, I am self-absorbed sometimes. I simply want to be 55kg instead of 60kg. My friend had lost 15kg in a few months and she recommended a book -The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. The moment I got off the phone, I downloaded it and read it within 2 hours. That was 309 pages. And sent a message to my friend to thank her again for the great book, but not sure if she believed me when I said I finished reading the book! I lost 1kg within a couple of days after following the basic instructions.

I mentioned this story to a couple of my students who were struggling with the reading material I had given to them as part of the Counseling and Psychotherapy certificate program. Both ladies were more interested in getting the book than the moral of the story!

So here’s what I learned from my experience thus far:

  • No one is born with a love for reading.
  • We learn to love what we spend time doing.
  • What we read about becomes the object of our affection. At different times in my life I have become passionate about different things – I read the Bible, and became passionate about Christianity. I read the Babylon Bee and The Onion on Social media, and I became passionate about satire. I read Irvin D Yalom and Viktor Frankl and became passionate about counseling. I read Jordan B. Peterson and became passionate about psychology.
  • “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man” – Francis Bacon. The big word here as I see it, is “maketh”. We make ourselves, or mold ourselves by what we read, speak and write. We read to tap into the wisdom of those who are wiser and we write to think.
  • “Beware of the person of one book.” – Thomas Aquinas. Don’t read what you want to hear. Read also what you don’t want to hear. That way, you begin to think critically. Those who read only the Bible, will never have empathy toward believers of a different faith. Those who only read Science will never experience the freedom of spirituality.
  • “Despite the enormous quantity of books, how few people read! And if one reads profitably, one would realize how much stupid stuff the vulgar herd is content to swallow every day.” – Voltaire. Don’t consume stupid stuff.

Some books that I have enjoyed reading during the past year:

  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (Awesome!)
  • 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson (Enlightening)
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell (Nail on the head!)
  • Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (Heavy)
  • Show Your Work by Austin Kleon (Great tips for people who don’t want to self-promote)
  • Invisible Cities – translated by William Weaver (Will transport you to another world)
  • The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung (So far, it has worked for me!)
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl (This is motivation for even the severely depressed)
  • The Gift of Therapy by Irvin D Yalom (Great insight for counselors.)
  • The Forerunner by Khalil Gibran (Delightful!)
  • The Sayings of the Holy Desert Fathers translated by Wallis Budge (Ancient Christianity – if you love learning about the origins of the Christian faith)

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