What I Learned by Not Reading for a Week

Reading Time: 2 minutes

It’s good to switch things up. Especially when you have to learn three chapters of introductory statistics and peruse forty pages of primary sources from the Ming Dynasty. These are my findings from not breathing reading for a week:

Brain Muscles

The ability to read is a little bit like a muscle. For the first two days, I experienced a notable increase in my ability to focus during conversations (i.e. muscle recovery). After that, my fingers itched to open up a new book. I started at my bookshelf longingly several times during the rest of the week. It reminded me of tapering training before a track competition, where all I wanted to do run, run, run.

The rebound in my reading was exactly like a rested muscle springing back into action. I read three books in three days after my week of abstinence. In addition to reading faster, I could comprehend the information better.

Time Perception

When I’m reading, three real-time hours pass for every perceived hour of time. Thus, my days felt much longer during this week. It also made waiting for food so boring. This realization makes me curious about time perception; I wonder if there’s a way to measure the difference in perceived time when a test subject performs a boring activity versus one that they love. Let me know if you’re aware of any such articles.


My book list had some fat that needed to be cut. Somehow, walking away from books allowed me to reprioritize my future reading. I think that time constraints naturally focuses one’s interests. When deciding to read a new book, I now ask myself “if I only had one hour a day to read, would it be this book?” (Click here to learn more about the benefits of artificial constraints).


Make a habit of making and breaking habits (yes even the good ones). By changing up your behavior, you gain novel insights into long-term problems you might be having. You also remind yourself why you instilled your good habits in the first place, and give yourself room to adventure.

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