I know that you all are reading plenty for class – but those are textbooks or other similar materials for studying. After starting regularly reading last year, I now very strongly believe that everyone should also be reading for pleasure. I’m going to share with you guys why reading for pleasure is so beneficial and why I think you should give it a shot as well.
First, as this is Med School Insiders and you are probably a student, I understand that grades and academic success are a top priority for you. The ability to read competently, and more importantly, find enjoyment in reading has great implications in a student’s academic success. The Growing Independence Report found that students who loved reading had higher test scores in cognitive and social competencies, math, reading, logical problem-solving and attitude. They also had better communication skills and relations with family, showed less risky behavior, and had higher levels of motivation towards school. Those who did not enjoy reading were more likely to spend more time watching TV, have had bullying experiences, and be less enthusiastic about going to school. Research has also demonstrated that frequent reading for enjoyment correlates with increases in reading achievement. So in short, reading regularly and finding pleasure in it will make you a stronger student, which translates to better grades.
Personal Growth & Development
However, grades and academic success aren’t all there is to life. The reason I love reading so much is that it allows you expand your mind and grow in a variety of ways.
Reading virtually places you alongside whomever you choose and allows you to peek into their minds, learn from their experiences and wisdom, and ultimately help you grow and develop into a stronger version of yourself.
Have you ever heard that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with? This relates to the law of averages, which describes that any result is the average of all outcomes. Those who are closest to us influence the way we think, behave, and view the world. So we should all go out and be best friends with Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Tim Ferris, Melinda Gates, and other influential and successful individuals, right? Ideally yes, but obviously not everyone can do so. Enter reading. By reading, you partake in the privilege of gleaning insight from brilliant minds you would likely never meet in person. Reading virtually places you alongside whomever you choose and allows you to peek into their minds, learn from their experiences and wisdom, and ultimately help you grow and develop into a stronger version of yourself. I recently read the Elon Musk biography by Ashlee Vance and am currently on the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. I love these books because they have taught me various crucial skills, from how to set goals, to being a better listener, to the power of perseverance. As I am finishing medical school, I realized how financially illiterate most physicians or those pursuing a career in medicine, myself included. I found some great reads that were excellent introductions to finances, how to handle loans, and how to invest. The WhiteCoatInvestor came out with a book that I highly recommend and also the author also has a great blog. Although I’m still a medical student, the book has already helped me align myself more strategically to start paying off loans in a few months.
How to Implement Regular Reading
You may be thinking that you’re too busy to read. I get it, but think of this. If you just read 5 to 10 minutes while in bed before sleeping, you would finish at least 1 or 2 books per month. If you don’t believe you have 5 or 10 minutes to do that, I recommend you go back and visit my posts on building a schedule and being efficient.
Now 2016 was an incredibly transformative year for me and I think a large part of that was due to reading. Reading was essentially my keystone habit that instilled in me the discipline and healthy habits to bring about other positive changes in my life. I was incredibly productive with my research and academic endeavors, started this YouTube channel and created two websites, was featured in a few different news articles in my university newspaper, interviewed at close to two dozen residency programs, and have been steadily improving my level of physical fitness throughout the process.
I bought a Kindle Paperwhite at the suggestion of some of my friends while we were traveling overseas. Get the Paperwhite and not the regular Kindle because the backlight is truly worth it – trust me, I was also skeptical at first. Some of you prefer hard cover books, and I totally get that. The feeling of a real book in your hand, the smell, the experience etc definitely has its appeal. However, the convenience of being able to carry any book I want in a small and slim form factor, read in the dark, and easily organize and search notes and highlights made the Kindle a clear winner in my book, no pun intended.
Leave a comment below with which book you plan on reading next. If you need ideas, I’ve left a list of some of my favorites below (Amazon links):