Billionaires and entrepreneurs read a lot of books each year.
Your teachers and parents advice you to read more books.
Even governments dedicate a huge portion of their budget to the education sector.
The question is:
Should you read more books?
Is reading books even healthy?
I’m an avid reader.
Last year alone, I read more than 55+ books (still counting).
What I've realized is:
This habit of reading has both pros and cons.
In this article, I’m going to discuss all the advantages and disadvantages of reading books.
And just because I have a habit of reading books, I’m not going to hold back and only show you why reading books is the only solution.
I'll also talk about the subtle problems that occur when you read so much.
Alrighty, so without further ado, let’s get started!
Advantages Of Reading Books
1. Improve Focus And Concentration
Reading books require attention.
When you read books with consistency, your muscles of concentration grow. That’s how reading books improve your focus and concentration.
Bill Gates reads 50 books per year. And just look at his concentration.
To achieve your goals, you need laser sharp focus. The truth is, it’s incredibly hard to focus and concentrate on a goal for months or even years.
So start reading books. Gradually, your focus and concentration power will improve.
2. Improve Vocabulary
To put your ideas into right words or to express yourself exactly the way you want to, you need a large enough vocabulary.
Especially, in countries where English isn’t the native language, people face difficulties in speaking English.
More often than not, they struggle to find relevant words while framing sentences during a conversation. This happens because they don’t have enough words in their active vocabulary.
Reading books exposes an individual to a bajillion of new words...
Using which one could improve his vocabulary set, and thus bring variety to his sentences while expressing himself either through speaking or writing.
3. Improve Creativity
Creativity is nothing but a combination of different ideas.
And books are all about ideas.
The best part: books contain ideas that originate from experienced people.
When you develop a habit of reading books, you work on your idea-generation muscle too.
That means your creative muscle becomes stronger.
There is a reason that all writers are avid readers, and most readers (if not all) start writing eventually.
Also, exposure to different opinions, thoughts, and perspectives allow you to reach multiple conclusions.
4. Provide Inspiration
Are you feeling down in your life?
Do you feel that your life is being wasted at your job?
Are you procrastinating on things that are important?
Well, look no further, start reading self-improvement books.
Books are one of the most significant sources of inspiration.
How? You could read the biography of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, etc. and get an idea of their mindset and thought process.
Books provide you long-term inspiration unlike motivational videos, which you watch on YouTube.
5. Provide Perspective
I remember reading:
These books changed my life by changing my perspective on it.
One of the easiest ways to have an epiphany or eye-opener moment is to read a book that has changed the lives of millions of people.
Of course, there are shitty books out there.
But some books are no less than gold.
For example, Napoleon Hill did years of research to write Think and Grow Rich.
Tim Ferris interviewed nearly two hundred world-class performers for his podcast, and then combined his learnings into a single book Tools Of Titans.
Books change your paradigm and allow you to see reality from different angles and thus reach your own conclusion.
6. Help You Make Friends
Humans love to build communities. Reading books might make you new friends who share the same interests as you.
You won’t believe how many people love reading books on the planet earth – interests might differ, though.
You could also give a read to How To Win Friends And Influence People or other such books to master communication skills.
7. Fun To Read
What makes books addictive is that they’re fun to read. How wonderful is it that you could learn great insights from successful people by turning a few pages.
Sometimes they tell you stories that entertain you. While at other times, they teach you lessons.
Reading is an entirely different experience:
From the outside, it looks like you’re just sitting and reading words and sentences.
But readers know from the inside that they’re having fun, which is no less than the pleasure you get while doing a party.
Reading isn’t boring. It just looks boring.
Okay, I agree, some books actually are boring...
But most of the time, they’re fun to read.
8. Help You Improve Your Professional Life
Tell me any skill and I can tell you a book that talks about it!
What makes successful people different is that they know things that an average person doesn’t.
So if you’re looking to improve your professional life, find books that teach you to be successful at your work.
Because books contain researched and valuable information that might help you.
It’s important to understand that not all books would be helpful to you. But does it really matter?
You only need one idea to change your life.
Who knows, you could even start your business someday by reading books like Zero To One or The 100$ Startup.
The possibilities are endless.
9. Help You Build Discipline
I couldn’t stress enough how important discipline is in life. And most non-fiction books like Chop Wood Carry Water say the same thing.
Acccording to the The Power Of Habit, certain habits spill into other areas of our life.
For instance, your habit of reading books every day might help you go to gym without fail or procrastination.
That’s because habits are patterns in our brains. In other words, habits are also our muscles which you could train and use in different aspects of life.
10. Improve Your Writing Skill
Reading helps a lot in writing.
The idea here is simple:
Both reading and writing is simply an act of interacting with words. The more you read, the more words you consume.
Ultimately, that reflects in your writing.
11. Make You Rich
(The word ‘rich’ is subjective here.)
People who are rich and successful read a lot of books, and also suggest others the same.
Books give you knowledge. And one can’t become rich if he doesn’t have knowledge about money.
If I hadn’t read those books, I wouldn’t have realized how asset building can help me become rich over time.
The thing is:
You won’t become rich just by reading finance books. You’ll have to work for it.
People like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates invest in themselves by reading books.
So if you want to become great like them, read quality books and improve your mindset.
12. Teach You About Personal Growth
There is an entire genre of personal developments in books. (If it didn’t, this website might not even exist.)
You can read various types of books under this genre:
- Personal Finance
- Business …
Notice the word “teach” here. This means that books will only teach you. To get results, you’ll have to work for it.
13. Improve Productivity
Time is of value. It is the only thing that you won’t be able to get back. Once it’s gone – it’s gone.
There are many books that will teach you how to use your time efficiently.
For example, The One Thing by Gary Keller taught me why I should focus on only one thing at a time and stop multitasking to avoid context switching.
By reading books and applying the lesson in your daily life, you can become more productive.
14. Develop Your Personality
When you exude strong character with confidence, your personality shines. By reading books based on psychology, you understand what goes on people’s mind and why do they do what they do.
Also, books build your character by conditioning it with high-quality ideas.
And those beliefs, ultimately, turn into your action.
Smart people judge you by your actions, not by what you say. When you take right action, it shows your personality.
15. Make You Calm And Peaceful
When you become wise or wiser than your peers, you start to save your energy and use it to do meaningful things.
Wisdom allows you to see through bullshit.
Ultimately, you become more calm and peaceful.
Often people get agitated when they fail to handle their problems in life. Books supply you enough knowledge so that you become capable of dealing with any circumstance.
There are a lot of books that teach you about Stoicism and other such philosophies.
Books like A Man Who Sold His Ferrari even show you techniques that monks use to stay calm and focused on their goals.
16. Improve Your Imagination
Fiction books are best suited for that. Every story takes you on an adventure.
The authors like JK Rowling can literally make you feel the character and make it look as if they are alive and right in front of you.
By reading story books, you can improve your imagination.
17. Turn You Into An Idea-Machine
Every time you read a book, your brain muscles get a workout.
And with each workout session (book reading session), those muscles become stronger.
Result? Gradually, you start turning into an idea-machine.
What does idea-machine mean? It’s simply your brain becoming able to produce a lot of quality ideas in a day.
There is a difference between random thoughts and ideas.
Most people generate random thoughts, which are good for nothing. But a few people can generate high-quality ideas throughout their day (e.g., entrepreneurs) that move the world.
Disadvantages Of Reading Books
Reading books has its downsides too. (In life, most things come at a price.)
Now, I’ll discuss all the disadvantages of reading books. I’ve personally faced most of them. That means I’m not making them out of thin air.
Anyway, let’s get started.
1. Consume Time
Oh man, I wish I could fix this.
No matter how hard I try, I fail to read more than four books a month. Reason? One needs time to read books.
Well, you can also listen to audio books, but that’s a different approach. Let’s stick to the context of this article.
Why does it take so much time to read books?
It’s a no-brainer. Most books have more than 150 pages. Being humans, there is a limit to how fast we can read.
Read too fast, and you might miss important details in the book. Read to slow, and it’ll take forever to finish that book. So most people read at a speed that suits them.
To those who say they can finish a book in an hour, I’ll say, “Seriously? Are you sure that you aren’t missing fine details?”
Still, you can’t deny that books consume a lot of time.
But at the end, reading books isn’t about how fast can you read, it’s about how effectively you read and how much you actually apply in your life.
2. Require Will Power
It isn’t really a downside of reading books, it’s a prerequisite.
Book reading isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some people can’t read more than one page.
For some people, reading is one of the most boring activities in the world.
Yes, reading books could be painful if you’re not used to read lots of books.
3. Burn Money Fast
If you look at Amazon, the paperback version of books is usually expensive for most of the books, considering I’m an Indian. Heck, ebooks and audiobooks are even more costly.
I won’t say buying books is an utter wastage of your precious money. The reality is that some books are hype, they have no substance in them, and they waste money if bought.
If you’re buying books for putting a show in front of your friends, I’d suggest that you better not buy them. That way, you’re only wasting your money.
Just a reminder: You can read the summary and review of any book before buying it. Just search the name of the book in the search box, and if I’ve written a summary for it, it’ll show up in the results.
4. Eat Up Storage
When it comes to storing books on your hard-drive, it barely consumes any space. That’s because those books are usually in Epub, Pdf, or Mobi format. In other words, a pdf version of a book, in my opinion, will only consume less than 20MB (maximum).
But when it comes to physical books, as the number of books increases, the burden of organizing and storing them on a shelf also increases.
Some people even love to collect books. While others sell it.
But you can’t hide from the truth that storing physical books and organizing them could be a pain in the behind.
5. People Call You A Nerd
This might sound stupid and isn’t a big deal. But yes, it affects too.
When people see that you read way too much, they start calling you a nerd in their minds. They think, “What’s the point of reading that much? What a nerd!”
Depending on the type of friends you have, some might go overboard and make you a thing of gossip. Luckily, this doesn’t happen often.
6. Weaken Your Eyesight
A lot of reading might put glasses on your nose.
When we read books, we fix our eyes on the letters close to us. Doing it for a long time sometimes causes short-sightedness.
When you become short-sighted, you run a risk of losing the ability to see far objects clearly.
7. Cause Infocrastination
Infocrastination is the sum of Information and Procrastination.
Infocrastination = Information + Procrastination
This happens while reading self-help books. Some people find escape through such type of books.
How many people do you think have become rich after reading “Think And Grow Rich”? How many people do you think start a startup after reading “Zero To One”?
Very few, right?
So what happens with most people? They keep procrastinating.
Because big goals require big actions.
Either way, it’s upto you what you do after buying a book.
8. Make You Unhealthy
Often people read books by sitting on a chair. This sedentary lifestyle creates many problems like Diabetes or Obesity.
One solution might be to take breaks every half an hour while reading and take a walk for 2 minutes along with some stretching.
9. Cause Confusion Sometimes Due To Contradicting Opinions
Sometimes two books might have contradicting ideas which can f*ck with your mind.
For example, The Magic Of Thinking Big says that you should ‘think big.’ On the flip side, Think Small says that you should ‘think small.’
Now, what should you do? Should you ‘think big’ or ‘think small’?
Here is another example:
If you go according to the philosophy of the Steve Jobs, you should follow your passion.
But Cal Newport, in his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, argues that ‘follow your passion’ is the worst advice.
Now, what should you do?
Should you follow your passion or not?
Here is one more:
All the self-help books like Awaken The Giant Within talk about positive self-help.
But on the other hand, Mark Manson talks about negative self-help in his book The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck.
Books are often full of contradicting ideas.
This isn’t an issue for those who barely read a book every year.
But to those like me, who read at least one book every week, this issue could be baffling.
10. Make You A Dopamine Junkie
Sometimes you might have an “Aha” moment while reading a book.
That “Aha” moment is simply the result of dopamine rush in your head.
Often people get addictive to this high.
It’s a rare case.
But I believe it’s possible.
Often people pick a book to find an escape to their dull life filled with problems.
Reading books and always craving an epiphany might make you a dopamine junkie.
From the points discussed above, you can conclude that reading books has both its pros and cons. It’s pros outweigh its cons, though.
If you take care of its cons, then nobody can stop you from achieving big goals.
Reading is a superpower. (And “with great power, comes great responsibility.”)
If you want to develop a reading habit, try Blinkist 7-day free trial.
What is Blinkist? It's a non-fiction book summary app with lots of amazing insights and author podcasts.
Now You Tell Me
Did you like this article on the advantages and disadvantages of reading books?
Did I miss any point?
Or do you have any point to add to this?
Do you face infocrastination too?
What struggles do you face while reading a book?
Tell me in the comment section below. And most important – keep reading.
Feel free to share this article with others. Thanks in advance!