A dog resting it's head on a stack of books

Should You Force Yourself to Read?

I’ve always argued that we should read for our own self-edification, opening a book because it brings us joy. If we’re reading out of obligation, then all we’re really doing is checking off a box.

But my opinion has shifted. Being a member of a book club has forced me to keep up with my reading, and I’m happy about it. We’re reading The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a fantastic novel. However, I must be honest: there have been several days when I haven’t wanted to read. That’s right. The book guy doesn’t always want to read.

We’re human, and relaxing after a long day of work often sounds more appealing than working through a complex Russian novel. But then I think, “If I don’t read my 15 pages today, I’ll be behind and will need to read 30 tomorrow.” So, I open the book and read. It only takes 30 minutes, and by the end, I’m filled with literature. I’m happy I read the book and amazed at how quickly 15 pages a day adds up.

I compare that feeling to the guilt I feel when I don’t read. The book sits on my shelf, looking at me like a puppy waiting patiently to go for a walk. The longer I ignore the book, the guiltier I feel.

So, yes, there is value in forcing yourself to read. It keeps you in the habit, prevents atrophy in your literary muscles, and banishes the guilt of intending to read eventually. Like anything enjoyable, it’s hard to start for some reason. But when you do, you’re glad you got going.

Until tomorrow, read slowly – take notes – apply the ideas.


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