Read Books, Not Blogs

On October 10, 2014

How much time do you spend every day reading blogs?

If it's more than an hour, do you think you can replace that same time with something more useful? Say, like reading books.

I think, you can. And it will only do you good, if you do so.

If I had to choose between reading a blog or a book, I'll always choose the book. When I compare blogs with books, I can easily see that books actually help me improve my life in some way, while blogs often end up wasting my time.

So, from the past few months I'm trying to reduce my web surfing time, and replace that same time with reading a book. It's been great so far, and I actually enjoy the time away from my computer. But what's even better is I actually feel I'm learning something new every day, which I don't feel when I read blogs.

And with every book I finish, I feel a sense of accomplishment, which I never do when I finish reading a blog post.

I always enjoy reading books, and that's the only hobby I've stuck to since I was a kid; well that, and to sit in a quiet place and think. But since the past three years, I've also spent a good amount of time reading blogs. I am trying to change that, and that's why, now, I read more books, and less blogs.

Perhaps, I shouldn't tell you to read less blogs, as I intend to make a living from my two blogs. But I think it's more important for me to be honest with you, and I do believe that you'll improve at your craft more by reading books, than by reading blogs, on the same subject.

Books have been around for centuries, and everyone knows what a book is. But how many people still know what a blog is, or for how much time they have been around.

As books have been around for a longer time, you can also see that for any subject, there are way more number of useful books, than there are blogs, unless the subject happens to be something new which didn't exist before.

Blogs do have their benefits. They are good when you want to get the latest news, or when you are looking for new ideas, or when you want to take a break from your work. And that's fine, if you read only a few blogs every day. But if you limit your daily reading time to only blogs, and not books, you'll end up wasting your time without learning anything new.

To become better at your craft, you need to read good books. And not just read them, but do some deep reading (I'll write more about this in my next article).

By reading books, you spend hours, and sometimes even days, involved in an idea. That's unlike blogs, where you barely spend more than a few minutes reading a blog post. The longer you spend your time tinkering with a thought or idea, the longer it's likely to stick with you. So, books win easily when it comes to get an idea grow inside you.

Also, given a choice, books are always a better way to learn a new skill. Whether you want to learn to code, to design, or to improve your writing, you'll find plenty of great books on any subject. Go and read them, instead of searching for a related blog, subreddit, twitter, or facebook page for that subject.

Books help you gain an in-depth knowledge, while most blogs only talk of the superficial stuff.

And it's easy to get distracted and lose focus when you read a blog, as reading one post always leads to reading another one, and so on, until you find yourself on a site that makes you wonder how you even got there.

That's not the case with books. When you read a book, there are no distractions to run after. That also makes it easier for you to focus on what you are reading now, and helps you learn the same thing in less time.

When you read a book, you have a specific purpose in mind. You want to learn something, or make something, or have a good time. But when you read a blog, you lack that specific purpose. Often, you read blogs just because you don't have anything better to do, or you feel that you'll be left behind if you miss the blog updates.

You don't feel the same way with books. You don't feel you'll miss anything if you read the book next week.

Few times, I end up reading thirty to forty articles at one go, and then when I recall what things I have learned from them, I have nothing to say. But when I read even three to four pages of a book, I feel like I have learned something, because there is always a connection to what I read earlier, what I read today, and what I'll read next in the book. Blogs don't give you this sense of connection.

The best way to learn and master any new skill is to read books on it. I have tried other ways of doing things, but somehow I always keep returning to reading books. I have tried learning from blogs, videos, visuals, but somehow books always beat them when it comes to gaining a deeper understanding.

Also, if you read paperback books instead of ebooks, it gives you a refreshing break from your computer. Your eyes get some rest. And your fingers get some rest too, as you are away from your mouse and keyboard.

A good thing to remember is there can be books which are of no good, and there can be blogs which are good. I recently read some books on writing and didn't learn anything from them, while I did learn some new things from a few writing blogs. So there can be few places where blogs prove to be better than books, especially if the subject is something totally new or if the writer has deep knowledge about his subject.

And in the defense of blog writer's, which includes me, it's difficult to go deep into a subject in a single blog post. There are only so many things you can say in a single post, without confusing your reader too much.

But, when everything else is same, books are the clear winner over blogs, at least for me.

Does that imply you shouldn't read blogs at all? No, you don't need to cut them out completely. I think we can allow ourselves to read what we like, as long as it doesn't interfere with our productive time.

And for that, I'd like to share with you some of my tips to manage your blog reading time. Please note these are the few things that work well for me. You have to figure out for yourself what works best for you.

  • Your time is limited, so subscribe to only limited number of blogs. For me, that number is around 15 blogs, but most of them are updated rarely, like paul graham's essays
  • You don't have to read every article from every blog you follow. You can tell from the post title if what's written is relevant to you; if it's not, then simply ignore it.
  • Follow a blog only for a valid reason: to learn something new, to improve your existing skills, or maybe to have a good time (but limit the number of blogs you follow just for having a good time).
  • Check news site only once a day. I check Hacker News once everyday, and I click only on those links that are relevant to me, which mostly happen to be two to three articles everyday.
Combining all the blog and the news site, I may read anywhere from two to six articles everyday. And I think that's fine. Since I do need to read something, apart from books, to learn what's new and to get new article ideas.

Having little to read online makes my life simpler, and helps me spend more time going deep into the books, and come out with enriching reading experience every time.

I hope it does the same to you.

Thanks for reading this article.

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