Reading is one of the best things you can do for your personal growth. You will learn from the greatest minds, be exposed to new ideas, and escape to strange and exotic lands.
My parents made certain to get each of us at least one book every birthday and Christmas. I wasn’t aware of how intentional this was until my parents, my siblings, and I were discussing (and coordinating) Christmas gifts for the grandchildren last year.
Children who are read to enter school with a vocabulary 4–5x larger than their non-read-to peers. Students who love to read consistently perform above average. Then as adults, reading tends to decline. We want to, but we don’t have time.
I once read a self-help book where the author advocated cutting the spine off a book and carrying a few pages with you through the day. Then you could turn your morning commute on the subway into a study hall. Waiting in line at the coffee shop? Pull out your pages and read.
His advice may sound horrific, but his point was powerful: if you aren’t reading because it’s too difficult to tote a full tome around with you, sacrifice the presentation of the book to read it. At the end of the day, would you rather have a bookshelf full of pretty books you haven’t read or a bunch of rubber-banded pages whose riches and secrets were now a part of you? (If you recognize this anecdote, please let me know the reference—I’ve forgotten where it is and would love to cite it.)
Thankfully, we have multiple options today in how we can carry books with us without dismembering them. Reading has never been more accessible.
- E-books. The brilliant thing about e-books is the sheer volume you can carry with you, and probably purchase new books on the go. I regularly carry manuals, magazines, newspapers, textbooks, study guides, business books, and a couple of fiction pieces with me. My library is split between iBooks and Kindle; both have an iPad app (where I do most of my reading), a desktop app for heavy-duty reference and research, and an iPhone app, which is always in my pocket.
- Audiobooks. I started listening to audiobooks when I lived in Wyoming, and would often travel 2–3 hours to get someplace. I still listen to audiobooks (and podcasts) on my current (much shorter) commute, while walking, and in the shower. A $15 monthly subscription to Audible.com will get you a daily summary of the Wall Street Journal or New York Times and includes one book a month of your choice. You can also get a free membership and buy books a la carte.
- Print Books. Despite all the advantages and benefits of e-books, it’s hard to let go of the classic. The smell of the paper, the heft of the book in our hands, the crisp rustle of turning pages—it’s a very sensory experience.
Seek out the best books, and always have one or two you’re working through. Think of the most successful people you know—especially in your professional field—and ask them for recommendations. I have yet for someone to be at a loss when asked. Leaders truly are readers.
Read a blend of fiction and nonfiction. Change it up, keep it fun. Revisit favorite authors. Reread a cherished novel. Fuel your imagination and creativity. Whether you are out jogging or kicking back on the couch, it’s never been easier to read a good book.