Book & Chill

If I were to choose the best thing I've done in 2017, it would be this: I developed a habit of reading books. 

Actually, there's a little bit more history behind this. 

When I was in Korea, my mom enrolled me in this "speed reading" program. It promised students that we'll be able to read much quicker, without compromising accuracy and details. I think it lasted about a year and a half and it was during my elementary school days. 

To my surprise, the program seemed to work out. I was able to read things really quickly. I still remember when I was in 5th grade, I borrowed Harry Potter and got completely immersed in it. I read like two books non-stop and had to run to school to check out the follow ons. 

Anyways, my point is, I really liked reading and the program helped me read things really quickly. 

Things started to change when I came to America. I simply couldn't read things at the speed I used to because there were so many vocabularies I didn't understand and the language, in general, felt strange. So I put away reading for awhile in high school and my interest slowly faded away. 

Then towards my junior year in college, I started to read books again. I don't really know what triggered it, but I guess I realized I need to read things and learn, otherwise I'd fall behind. You know what actually, I just recalled as I'm writing this. Reading Reddit AMA helped me a lot. I somehow realized that people are talking about the same things, just in different language. That realization helped me go over this mental hurdle, the prejudice that I had developed towards reading things written in English. 

Then another event happened after I graduated from college. I have a high school friend who always has been an inspiration for me. He had much better work ethic so he had higher grades and SAT score, so I can't exactly call him my rival. Also, dude was a year older than me, so he was like my role model. I'd always feel motivated by his effort, but couldn't quite emulate that myself. 

One day, he told me, now that he's done with MCAT (he went to Harvard Medical School) he's so happy because he has more time to read. And that came to me as a shock. I mean, I understand how having more free time is good for you, but because you can read? read something that's written in English? Are you crazy? It almost felt like I got hit in the head. A total shocker. A moment of realization. This is how people go to Harvard. You need to be a nerd. 

After this happened, I started to read more. The fact that I had a Kindle Paperwhite definitely helped me as I was able to read a little by little everyday before I went to bed. This soon gained a momentum and I saw myself reading English books much more smoothly. There wasn't any more hiccups, brief stops where I was lost because I couldn't understand the sentence. So I gained traction and these days, I can finish a 200-300 page book within a week. Maybe in 8 hours if I can read non-stop (which unfortunately, is impossible as of now).

I can't say that reading has changed my life yet, but it has changed some things. 

  1. I started reading on weekends. Instead of going out to clubs and bars every weekend, I found myself staying home and reading more than ever. Also, weekends are the only time I can read since I have to work on weekdays and have limited time. 
  2. I started finding "answers" to some of my questions. I used to think that Google can tell me all the answers. I was naive and wrong to think that books are overrated these days. There's wisdom in books that you can't not find from the internet. Also, a book does a much better job of explaining ideas due to its sheer volume.
  3. Writing became fun. Just like reading, I've been avoiding writing since I lacked "fluency". But by reading a lot, writing became more natural although it still has lots of flaws. 

Today, I also spent most of my time reading. I'm currently reading a story about Hedge Funds and Silicon Valley. I also picked up three Korean books at my local library and finished them all..! Hopefully someday, I can read English books as quick as Korean ones. If that happens, that'd be really really cool. You know, maybe if that happens, I could be a dual lawyer-fund manager. 

Taeyang You