I have a confession to make. For years, I’ve been a secondhand reader. You know, so I can pretend like I’ve read the latest, greatest book at the party. My wife Sarah typically reads the book and I casually ask her what it was about and then I use my storytelling skills to act like I read it. Pathetic, right?
Yeah, I know. Now, don’t get me wrong. In the past, I’ve consistently read 1-2 books a month but that’s child’s play compared to Sarah. She regularly reads 2-3 book in a week. I don’t mean nice, short, pseudo-literature (the kind I sometimes enjoy). I’m talking about real books like Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch or The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer (a 1,300 page tome that admittedly took more than a few days).
Sarah’s love for books has rubbed off on all of our family of seven. Around our house, books are shoved into every possible spare space. This summer, we put two more bookcases in the basement, and we’re out of space again. We’re a family of readers. A few of us (Sarah, my oldest son Harrison and my daughter Katherine) are hard-core readers but all of us read. A lot. Why?
We just believe that generally speaking, books are better than TV or video games (although you really don’t want to mess with my fighting skills in any Zelda adventure) and that books make life better. Besides the fact that there’s nothing like losing yourself in a well-told story, there have been numerous studies done about reading and the link to success in business and life and its pretty unmistakable.
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking”. –Haruki Murakami
People read for a lot of reasons…to reduce stress, to escape, to gain new information or skills, and to improve socially by knowing importing events or conversational cues. All in all, from my experience, most successful people are readers. Some read journals or blogs or magazines. And some ready full-on books. But nearly every successful person I know reads.
Sure, there are some people who don’t read and are still successful. Woodrow Wilson once said, “I would never read a book if it were possible for me to talk half an hour with the man who wrote it.” One of my good friends, an amazingly successful film producer, admitted to me he’d only read six books in his life. But that’s the exception.
This summer I decided to really jump back into reading. Every morning, along with reading a few portions of The Bible, I scan a list of blogs that I enjoy and read up on current events. I have a habit of keeping a non-fiction and fiction book by my bed stand. Among the books that I’ve read over the past few months are Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown, Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, Erwin McMannus’ The Artisan Soul, Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull and Do the Work by Steven Pressfield.
How about you? Are you a reader? Do you think it’s important? What are you reading these days for fun or inspiration or insight? Why do you read? Let me know in the comments below.