How to Become an Avid Reader

Bill Gates described himself as an avid reader. And as you who follow this blog might know, I am also an avid reader. I refer to a lot of books in this blog. I’ve had the habit of reading since my childhood by which time my favorite place had already been the bookstore.

The book Accelerated Learning for the 21st Century stated that there are three keys to effective learning which  I believe are also the keys to becoming an avid reader. They are motivation, motivation, and motivation.

streamingMotivation is the key. If you have it, everything will be much easier. Reading will be something you do effortlessly; it will be your pleasure. On the other side, if you don’t have it, everything will be much harder. Reading will feel more like chore than pleasure.

Consequently, there is only one way to become an avid reader:

Find your motivation.

That’s it. No more, no less. The more motivation you have, the more effortless and pleasant reading will become.

To get the motivation you need, you should realize the great benefits reading will bring into your life. The more you internalize these benefits, the more effortless and natural it will be to become an avid reader.

So here are some benefits reading will bring into your life:

  1. You won’t repeat others’ mistakes
    One of the biggest time wasters is repeating mistakes which have been made by others throughout the history. Why should you learn it the hard way – and also waste a lot of time – if you can just avoid it in the first place? Such is the benefit of reading. Reading brings the experience of thousands, even millions of other people to you.
  2. You will be able to learn the wisdom of the greatest minds
    Mentoring is a powerful way of learning. It allows you to absorb the knowledge, experience, and wisdom of someone who have gone the way before you. Unfortunately, we are unlikely to have the world’s greatest minds as our personal mentors.
    Reading is the perfect solution.
    If you read the writings of the greatest minds, it is as if you sit in front of them and listen to their sharing of wisdom and experience. Can you imagine sitting in front of the likes of Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, and Isaac Asimov and listening to the stories they are telling you? What an incredible learning experience!
  3. You will see new options and opportunities
    Reading widens your perspectives and enables you to see options and opportunities you didn’t see before. It gives you new “lenses” to see life through. A great opportunity may just pass right in front of you unnoticed if you do not develop the “sensor” to sense them. Reading trains your sensor so that it is capable of sensing every possible opportunities that passes.
  4. You will be amazed by the richness of the world’s history and culture
    Reading will give you a sense of awe and amazement, and that is a great reward in itself. Can you imagine being transported in time and watch how people in Easter Island competed against each other in unconscious suicide, Alexander the Great conquered the enormous Persian empire, or Inca’s 10,000-men troop being defeated by Spanish’s 200-men troop?
  5. You will have a strong competitive advantage
    All in all, reading gives you strong competitive advantage. As you know, knowledge is power. That is especially true in this information age. The more knowledge you have, the more likely you will beat the game and come out as the winner. The main way to gain knowledge is reading since the bulk of the world’s knowledge is stored in the form of texts.
    If you want to have a strong competitive advantage in this information age, there is no other way but to read, read, and read. As the world’s economy moves more and more toward knowledge-based economy, so will the power of knowledge increase. You’d better cultivate it now before it’s too late.

Internalize these benefits, find your motivation, and you will naturally become an avid reader.


  1. So I assume you’re suggesting reading something specific to what you’re involved/interested, right? That’s how one would gain a competitive advantage and really learn form the wisdom of others. Though I enjoy reading, I’m starting to back away from just reading general literature, the likes of Dickens and all of them because, though fun, you can’t get a whole lot from it.

  2. Exactly, Mike. I actually wrote this post with non-fiction readings in mind, since – as you said – that’s the kind of readings that gives us the competitive advantage we need. I guess it’s more difficult to find the motivation for reading non-fictions, and that’s why I shared five benefits of doing so.

  3. Hey Donald,

    I also read mostly non-fiction books. However, fiction books have added many interesting perspectives into my life. It all depends on the moral of the story 😉

  4. Alex, I often feel that reading fiction books takes too much time but gives me too little. But you are right. Reading fiction books can actually give us something that non-fiction books can’t. Getting fresh perspectives are important, and fiction books can do a good job on it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Not only fresh perspectives, but ancient perspectives. It’s amazing when you find a brilliant solution or concept – say to yourself “why didn’t anyone think of this sooner”, and than realize that it was already written about 2000 years ago.

  6. Amazing, Alex! We (or I, at least) are often too focused to new perspectives and forget that ancient perspectives may actually have the answers we need. The moments you described must be very enlightening.

  7. That’s why I always say “why reinvent the wheel?” =)

  8. I like to read as well. There are so many books, and not enough time to read them all. I still focus on books that I think are going to benefit me versus just reading for enjoyment. One day soon I am going to work on speed reading, I think it would be great to be able to rifle thru a few books.

  9. I face the same situation, Bill. There are so many interesting books to read, but too little time available. I think this is a common situation for many book readers. There’s no other way to handle it but by prioritizing those books and then “smart reading” them.

  10. Great article Donald. I am so glad to see another person espousing the virtues of learning. One of my mottos is “If you want to earn more, you first have to learn more!”

    Please forgive this shameless plug, but I wrote my first book,
    Learning For Profit , to address this challenge of learning faster.
    Learning is the key to earning; Learn faster!

  11. That’s a great motto, Daniel. Knowledge is power which can benefit us in all areas of life, including our capability to earn more.

  12. Donald, thanks for your great article. Yes, you are absolutely right that motivation is the key to be an avid reader.

    The problem I always face when try to read is lack of patience.Can you give me any advice how to overcome it and be a good reader and be able to get the opportunities you mentiones in your article.


  13. Imran,

    I’m glad you like the article.

    Regarding the problem you mentioned, what do you mean with patience? If it’s patience to finish a book, I think the solution is – again – motivation. If we are motivated we will naturally be excited to read a book. I’m not sure if I get your point right.

    To get opportunities, in my experience we should relate what we read with our problems and our existing knowledge. Often there are new associations formed which lead to new ideas.

  14. you can be avid reader when you learn enjoy of reading.and its up to you how to enjoy because people are different.good luck

Comments are closed.