What happens when you start reading every day

Every month of 2020 we embrace a new Challenge. April was the turn of #BillGates: read at least 30 pages from a book of choice every day. 30 pages might not be a lot, but here’s the huge impact they had on the way I spend my money, on how I behave with people, and in general on my point of view.

My mother is a literature teacher in Italy. This means strict reading policy and pages-based rewards from a tender age. Since I was pretty young, I used to keep up well with my reading game, but when high school came along I was spending too much time on my scholastic books to feel like reading more in my free time. Here’s what happened when I started again after a few years:

  • Regret: I learned so much through these days that my first feeling was regret for having wasted all these years being ignorant on so many topics I could have mastered through a few books. My financials improved, my interpersonal skills improved, my sales skills improved, my knowledge of politics and economics improved, and this list would be much longer if I spent those past years reading.
  • Satisfaction: You know the feeling of having wasted your time cause you spent half of your evening on your phone? I am not too sure what you call the opposite of it — leverage your time maybe? — but that’s how I felt.
  • Expertise: If you pick your book well enough, you can read about a topic the writer spent his life on. There is someone who spent his life studying politics and will explain it to you in a few hundred pages, someone else on Irish history. With a book, you can acquire lifetime expertise in a few hours.
  • Relax: When you immerse yourself in a book, it really feels like you get in a different space. Reading is like a small vacation trip for your mind.

I was totally aware of the power of reading, but maybe for laziness maybe cause I was actually busy studying a lot, I almost felt like I forgot it. Having ridiscovered it now, it feels crazy to just let that habit slip away knowing how powerful and productive it can be.

It was extremely important to set that as a daily habit. By building it as a habit you make sure you find a time through your day that you can dedicate to reading. It can be on the train, before going to bed, or first thing in the morning.

I always like to measure how good a habit is by checking how many people I esteem do it. With reading though, it is a bit too easy. I am not really aware of any successful person who does not read. Our life is simply too short to try to learn everything through our own experience, a book is a way to leverage other people’s time and studies.

My pick for the months have been:

  • The Intellingent Investor, by Benjamin Graham. This has been an AMAZING book. About finance and value investing, it is about the only thing I ever read about finance that makes sense to my rational and engineering mind. Literally, I had to stop multiple times to stretch and let a thrill of pleasure run through my spine for how much sense the words I was reading made.
  • How to make friends and influence people, by Dale Carnegie. A pilar of human interaction and salesmanship. Contrary to what you might think, this book is extremely linear, with no tricks and weird hacks to be liked by people. All it contains are perfectly logical principles you probably already know, but outlined with clear examples to fix them in your mind for future reference when you need them.
  • The 48 Laws Of Power, by Robert Greene. This book did not really reflect the content I expected, so about 100 pages in I left moved onto my next one.
  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty. A great data-driven book on economy and politics in the last 150 years. It contains some very interesting statistics, graphs, and reflections, and was very informative.

Takeways:

  • Note to future self: please keep reading. It does not matter how busy you’ll be, reading a good book will always be a great investment of your time.
  • We only have 24h a day, we can’t rely only on our experience to get knowledgeable in everything. I can write about autonomous driving vehicles and real estate in the UK, and I want to read from you about what you know of. I want to leverage my time and learn from you instead of trying to get to learn everything from experience myself.
  • Reading > Scrolling. Not only cause it’s more “productive”, but cause it really gives your brain a break. Better to look out of the windows, go bother your flatmate, or read, rather than watching a few stories on Insta.
  • Every day you don’t read, is a missed opportunity to learn about anything you wanted. I wished I did this month’s reading a while ago…

Next month, we are going to wake up every day at 5:30 am. Exercising, meditating, reading are on the morning to-do list, let’s see what impacts it will have on me. I appreciate your time reading,

A presto,
Federico

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Federico Sanna

Autonomous Driving Systems Engineer at Arrival— Imperial College Bioengineering Graduate — 12challenges patient zero