From less than One book a year to reading more than 100 (over the last 4 years)

Patrick Poh
3 min readMar 9, 2023

5 years ago, I wasn’t reading much. By “much”, I mean less than one book a year.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

You see — reading really isn’t my thing. I excuse myself by saying I might be dyslexic, even though I know it to be likely untrue because I don’t have a problem understanding passages and stories when they are easy to read.

I just dislike or “zone out” and lose attention when the book’s concepts are difficult to grasp and ideas require me to “think deeply”.

Some other excuses included not having enough time, it was not convenient, and not sure why there’s a need to read. It was also boring to sit down and focus on a thick lot of paper. Always so much easier to just turn on the TV, watch DVD or play YouTube on the phone.

The reward from the world of multi-media entertainment is so much more attractive than just simple, basic reading!

Before 2018, most of the things I was read were online articles, internet news and stories. Very much of these were because they were work-related articles, reports, newspaper stories. Very little fiction, my preference was to watch TV dramas and serials if I wanted “stories”.

2019 — 56 books

2020 — 28 books

2021 — 33 books

2022 — 27 books

2023 — 15 books so far

I cannot remember exactly why I got interested in reading again in 2018, but my best guess would be because I found out about the National Library Board’s app that offers ebooks and audiobooks. This mobile app system made it SO EASY to pick up reading once again and these services are offered free for anybody with a Singapore library account!

Even foreigners can apply for membership with our Singapore Library!

I noticed how some books had the power to draw me into their world, and as I progressed, I found myself understanding concepts better, and having a more structured view of many topics.

As time went by, I began to realize that I actually enjoyed reading and made it a new hobby. I started by searching for books on topics I had most interest in.

For example, I read books on self-development, personal growth hacks, and health. I also read a few more books randomly to try them out and see if I liked the author’s writing style.

The e-books allowed me to have access to a wide variety of books, and be able to read anywhere anytime, and without having to carry a thick wad of papers around in my bag.

Audiobooks have been extremely useful for me. The ability to “listen-read” while waiting in queue, while traveling, while exercising has been so helpful. The audiobooks allow me to absorb so much more interesting information while carrying out daily tasks.

On several occasions, after I have completed one great audiobook, I end up going to purchase a physical book and re-reading it and writing down notes to help me better understand the authors.

Instead of spending time constantly focused on a digital screen, and using energy on visual focus, I can relax and enjoy my daily journey while listening to the author (some times) explain his ideas.

This is really akin to having a discussion with a very smart person, listening to what they have to say. They usually come very well prepared, in an attempt to sway your manner of thinking. But you (as the reader) also has the opportunity to refute if you deem the arguments invalid! This can be done by paying special attention, taking down notes and looking for research that proves your counter-argument to be true-er than that of the author’s.

The way to “real learning” is through active thinking — and this happens when we decide to participate mentally while reading (or listening). Without active participation, we can be said to be merely “reading”, not “learning”.

Perhaps in future, I may even listen to audiobooks AND follow using a physical book at the same time. Maybe the level of understanding will be even better.

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