Teddy Roosevelt’s 10 rules for reading

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss an article about Teddy Roosevelt’s 10 rules for reading…..

Being a good reader is so intrinsically linked to being a good writer that I focus just as much on the former as the latter. My friend Eve understands this and recently sent me a link to Teddy Roosevelt’s 10 rules for reading. She thought I’d find them fascinating, and she was right.

Well known as a quick and tireless reader (Roosevelt often finished a book before breakfast!) he took a refreshingly unneurotic approach to reading. I agree with all of his rules — although I’d prefer to call them guidelines or suggestions —  but my favourite, is  #3:

The books by which I have profited infinitely more than by any others have been those in which profit was a by-product of the pleasure; that is, I read them because I enjoyed them, because I liked reading them, and the profit came in as part of the enjoyment.

Life is too short to read books you don’t like. And there are so many choices, if you don’t like one then simply reach for another. I recently returned from a 10-day holiday during which I read eight books. One of them was Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. Not only did the book address a subject we seldom speak of in everyday society — the end of life — but it did so in such a warm, engaging and thoughtful way that the book leapt immediately to the top of my “best of 2015” reading list.

If you feel differently about Being Mortal that’s fine. Just be sure to pick up another book. It’s the single best thing you can do to improve your writing.

Scroll to Top