Most people appreciate the value of reading. And yet, many don’t read on a regular basis. So let’s tackle five common excuses that prevent people from enjoying the many benefits of reading.

Here are the objections that we’ll be addressing:

  1. I don’t have time to read books.
  2. I prefer podcasts, videos, or articles.
  3. The ideas in books are old or outdated.
  4. I don’t know of any good books to read.
  5. I’ve tried reading, but it’s just not for me.

So, if one or more of these reasons have prevented you from developing a daily reading habit, this article is for you. We’ll tackle them one-by-one so you can decide whether or not they genuinely apply to you. And, if you know someone else that might benefit from reviewing this list, please consider sharing it with them as well.

Note, if you’re interested in business-related topics like entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and product management, I have reading lists that cover those topics and several others. So consider checking them out after you finish reading this article. But for now, let’s tackle the top five excuses for not reading.

REASON #1 – I don’t have time to read books.

Limited time is one of the most common explanations. And it makes some sense. Many people very busy today, so it can be challenging to fit reading into a tight schedule.

But this view doesn’t account for the amount of time that can be saved by reading a helpful book. Sometimes a single powerful insight can save you weeks or even months of frustration. And a great book can help you achieve a superior result in less time.

The fact is, we waste a lot of energy trying to solve things that others have already solved for us. Books allow us to tap into the knowledge and experience of others. And this gives us a chance to achieve far better results than we could alone.

Developing a daily reading habit is an investment. The right books will save you far more time than you’ll ever spend reading them. And you’ll gain perspectives and unlock opportunities that you may never have found otherwise.

REASON #2 – I prefer podcasts, videos, or articles.

Perhaps you love the idea of learning from others, but you feel that books aren’t the best tool for the job. Many people now seem to favor podcasts, videos, or articles because they prefer short and casual formats.

Unfortunately, these options rarely have the same impact as books. In many ways, they’re the fast-food of education. They may seem convenient and insightful, but they often lack the depth required to drive long-term retention. Consider this quote from billionaire Elon Musk of Tesla & SpaceX.

“It is important to view knowledge as a tree… make sure you understand the fundamental principles before you get into the leaves or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”

Elon Musk

A great book allows the reader to create a mental scaffolding around an idea or concept. And it’s this framework that makes it easier to not only learn more but also to remember the information over time. So if retention matters, books can help you lay a solid foundation for taking in other information over time.

REASON #3 – The ideas in books are old or outdated.

The world is moving faster than ever. Some potential readers worry that, by the time a new book is published, the information may no longer be useful. Or at least it may have lost some of its relevance.

There is some truth to this. Much of what we encounter today does have a limited shelf life. And in some cases, it pays to be up to speed on the latest trends, especially if you’re in a business or market that is constantly changing.

But as a general rule, it’s far more useful to focus on the things that don’t change. The timeless insights that we can apply in many situations. These are the kinds of ideas that should form the foundation of how we operate our lives.

One of the advantages of books is that they address timeless lessons. Insights that are as relevant today as they were years or even decades ago. And it’s often these lessons that have the most significant impact in achieving our goals in life.

REASON #4 – I don’t know of any good books to read.

Many people like the idea of reading, but they haven’t come across any great books. Perhaps they’ve browsed popular titles in a store, or they’ve tried recommendations from a friend. But none of the topics were that interesting.

The issue here is often a result of focusing on the wrong thing. That is, trying to become a reader, rather than finding a topic worth exploring. So whenever I encounter a new reader, I always focus on what they’re interested in learning.

There is no sense in just reading random books. Especially if you’re new to reading and are still trying to establish a habit. Instead, we must focus on what we want to learn, solve, or overcome in life.  And then, once we identify a challenge or opportunity for growth, we can select the right book.

I have a short guide on how to choose a great book, but the core message is simple. Start by identifying an opportunity or challenge that is meaningful to you. And then look for great recommendations from readers that have a similar passion.

In other words, don’t start by trying to find a book worth reading. Instead, focus on a topic or theme worth exploring. And then find the right book for the job.

REASON #5 – I’ve tried reading, but it’s just not for me.

Some people have tried to get into reading, but they just don’t enjoy it. Occasionally this is due to not finding the right book (see reason #4 above), but that isn’t always the case. They may simply dislike the experience of reading long-form content.

Fortunately, there is an excellent alternative to reading physical books. And that would be listening to audiobooks on a smartphone. It’s the same great content, but it’s in a more flexible and convenient format.

Now, I have two essential tips to help you make the most of this approach.

First, be sure you have something physical to do while listening to an audiobook, like going for a walk, driving a safe and familiar route, or doing chores around the house. This approach allows the motor cortex in your brain to be more engaged and less prone to distraction. And of course, it makes it easier to fit reading into a busy day.

Second, find a playback speed that works for you. Depending on the topic’s complexity and the pace of narration, you might choose a rate from 1.5x to 2.5x the default speed. And that can make it easier to lock in with the content and avoid distractions.

I love audiobooks. They’re my preferred approach for reading new titles. And when I come across one that is especially relevant, I consider picking up a physical or digital copy to re-read it while taking notes.

Where To Go From Here

Are you interested in reading? I have follow-up resources on how to start a reading habit, how to choose a great book, and how to retain more of what you read.

If you’re interested in business-related topics like entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and business strategy – I have dedicated reading lists that cover my favorite books on those subjects and several others.

You can also subscribe to The Rick Kettner YouTube Channel or The Rick Kettner Podcast to get future articles, book summaries, and reading lists.

Rick Kettner

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