Even if I wasn't paid to read and write, I would still be spending the majority of my time reading and writing. They are the easiest, cheapest ways to get smarter.
Yes, a lot of people that say they don't have time to read. It's not true. Use Audible. Before Audible, I'd read one book a month. Podcasts opened up my eyes to the world of audio and speed-listening.
It turns out you can listen way faster than you can read, once you get used to it. Seriously, you can learn to listen at speed faster than 3x and still understand everything.
For me, I think I tend to retain more of what I listen to, than read. The pace forces me to focus and if I drift off, I have to rewind. Audible means I read while on the train to work, at the gym, and pretty much any time I'm doing something where I wouldn't be able to have a book in my hands.
My most valuable secret is this: download Audible, start listening to books at 3x while you're walking, exercising and cleaning the dishes. It'll make you smarter, more interesting and maybe even, happier.
Even if reading is better, and I'm not convinced it is, the volume of books that you'll be able to get through by listening is just enormous. Yes, you'll come across people who tell you that listening to a book, isn't reading it. Feel free to remind them of when their parents read to them as kids. I bet they still remember those stories, maybe better than the ones they read themselves.
Not to mention as humans, we've been listening to stories far longer than we've had books. I really do think the new wave of audio is a good thing. It's taking us back to where we came from, even if it's powered by wireless floss-like earphones. It's also nice after a long day of staring at a screen to be able to put your phone down, rest your eyes and listen.
Even though I love hardcover books and one day wish for a library of my own, audiobooks are $15. It's more economical to have someone read to me than to buy a dead tree. That in itself is a testament to the scale of the internet and how cheap bits on a server somewhere can become. Pretty cool...
As for writing, get a blog and write. Who cares if you're not a great writer, you can learn. I'm definitely still learning, but all my opportunities in life have stemmed from conversations or writing. Not my credentials, or lack thereof. And I do like to think my conversations are far more interesting because I read, or maybe, that's just what I tell myself.
And that reading, will help my writing and writing will help me read better. It wouldn't be a post about reading and writing, if I didn't end on the narrative. After all, there's nothing more powerful than a great narrative.
We humans can't help but by into them:
"The other problem with narratives is that, whether you like it or not, they are really, really powerful. An oft-cited study found that if you embed details in a story, it’s up to 22 times more likely to stick. Remember Cecil the Lion? Sure you do, because some dentist went and shot a beloved animal and suddenly we all cared about lion preservation. But if an organization had just put out the information—African lions are being killed at a distressing rate—it may never have pierced your awareness."
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