The Jeff Tweedy Guide to Reading Books the Right Way

Comprehension is overrated

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Tweedy is a prolific songwriter, but also a promiscuous reader.

I once heard an interview in which he explained that he reads a lot, but he doesn’t necessarily pay attention to every word. Jeff said that it’s comforting just to read. That he buys books that are rich in language and are about interesting things, because the words are so fun to just absorb.

And he doesn’t beat himself up about not getting it. In fact, he doesn’t give a shit about getting it. That’s not the point. He reads for pages and pages and pages and it’s like listening to music in the background. Because for him, reading is a way to think.

When I first heard that interview, something inside of me clicked. I thought to myself, wait a minute, you’re telling me I can read books without the burden of comprehension and understanding? I can digest and absorb the author’s language without the responsibility of knowing or even caring what they’re writing about? This is great news. Now I can just relax and let the words wash over me. Now I create a space where I don’t feel obligated to do anything other than just soak it all in.

What a liberation. Every shameful memory of failing those stupid reading comprehension tests in school faded away like a dissolving cloud. And now, I no longer read books, I inhale them. Books are part of my diet. They’re fuel for my body and brain. And I never allow myself to be talked out of buying another one.

That’s why throwing back five, sometimes ten books a week, is nothing to me. I blow right through them. And I have zero guilt about the process because reading is one of the chief ways I create meaning in the world.

Besides, there’s no test at the end of the week. There’s no teacher in the front of the room with a red pen and stopwatch making sure I comprehend every word of the story. I’m an adult. I can do whatever I want.

What are you still doing because of guilt?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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Written by

Author. Speaker. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Founder of Pioneer of Personal Creativity Management (PCM). I also wear a nametag 24/7.

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