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How to choose your reading list?

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Jul 31, 2012

To me reading is like meditation. I love reading, no matter where I’m and in what situation. Even now and then I considered taking a job at any big library where I can read unlimited books while working too! But later on I thought it could back fire!

Reading is a mandatory for personal growth and for a remarkable life. However, all readings are not equally helpful or important. Although many of us opines that reading, any type of it, is good but I differ.

I do believe reading has a pervasive impact on us. It influences our thinking and subsequently defines how we act and respond. When we read a book we see the world through the eyes of the characters of that books, of that writer. We experience their expectation, frustration, sorrows and life style. And when fall in love with a character we try to become that character in our life, like Himu by Humayun Ahmed.

So, there is no way to take reading nonchalantly that how important reading list is. And we must be careful in choosing what to read and what not.

I ask myself 5 questions before taking any reading decision. To me what to read and what not is important because reading a bad book is more harmful than not reading at all.

Basic questions: These two questions are my guiding principles of reading. Whenever I decide to read I try to judge it by these two questions.

1. What I don’t know?

2. What I need to know?

Specific questions: These three questions help me to figure out how knowledge from a particular reading is going help me.

1. How this book is relevant with my living?

2. How this book will help me to achieve my goals?

3. What kind of life lessons I can extract from the book?

Reading should, at first place, be guided by single principle of exploration. Knowing and understanding should be the first step on the way ahead.

I believe a book should do one of 5 things: inform, inspire, educate, entertain or instruct/give a way out. If your reading does none of these then I think you are wasting your time.

Don’t you think one should be more thoughtful in choosing a book/reading?


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Ruhul Kader is a technology and business analyst based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, technology policy, and society. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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4 comments on “How to choose your reading list?”

  1. While going through this writeup I felt being LEFT BEHIND!
    What if it's not possible for some to stroll past the two basic questions? 1. What I don't know? I know nothing. 2. What I need to know? I don't know.

    But yes. I think choosing a good read is crucial since while reading one has to compromise with all alternative sources of information, entertainment and even essential physical activities!

    1. First of all thanks for checking this out. Well, you have exactly those points i had once. Then I got into this very problem of information+knowledge scarcity in some very basic issues I were tweaking with which forced me to think about what is wrong.

      Problem was not that I was not reading enough or consuming enough information rather I was consuming inconsiderately. My reading was just to meet my instant gratification, entertain me and those reading were not meeting my need instead eating out my time.

      Then I decided to be more practical and started to be more selective in reading anything.

      I think, if we think from the perspective of life then it's true we don't know what we exactly don't know and what we need to know, but in some aspects being short sighted is much better.

      In case of reading if you take the point of profession, skills, purpose or certain project then I guess things become clear that what we don't know and what we need to know.

      What do you think?

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