Letters and words are powerful. Without language, would the human race have been able to share the ideas that brought us to where we are today? Reading and writing is probably the most impactful method of sharing information. It may someday be surpassed, but it is the building blocks for all that has been achieved in modern civilisation to date.
It is the reason we are where we are. Information is now easier to share than ever, with newer and easier methods like YouTube, audio books, podcasts etc. But reading is still as strong as ever, whether through paper books, e-reader books, blogs etc.
As a child I always read, I think books are one of the greatest gifts one can give. I say books generally – I read comics when I was young. Some saw this as a waste of time, but my mother knew better. She knew it would cultivate a love of reading and she was right. To get children away from the screens and onto paper is admirable.
I find reading at night helps me to sleep. No screens after a specific time. Just letters on a page.
Everybody is different. My personal reading consists of one or two books at a time. At one point I had more going at once, but felt under pressure to finish them all and I ended up finished nothing. That is my own preference – no more than two books at a time but with short reads (short stories and articles) I dip in and out of at any time.
To keep things interesting, if I am reading a non- fiction title, I like to have some fun fiction going at the same time.
I read history, spiritual, biography, self development, a little business and finance – basically anything that comes highly recommended, that will potentially introduce me to a way in which I can improve my life, even if I only take one small thing from it.
One of the most impactful books that I have ever read is The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. The main thing that stuck with me from this book is to read ten pages a day of self development every day (that’s almost 4,000 pages a year). I try to generally stick to this rule, though; I have fallen off the wagon somewhat recently.
I love historical fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, but try to delve into something completely different every once in a while. Some of those choices were disastrous, but others introduced me to amazing books I would have never thought of reading. A book club is a great way to introduce yourself to books you wouldn’t usually go for.
I have launched into some massive books, which I loved, but found the prospect of finishing them daunting.
Alaska by James A. Michener is one such example – 868 pages. The fix was simple. I just took breaks, sometimes for months at a time. I even switched to audio for some of it. It ended up taking me well over a year to finish it, but so what. It didn’t taint the story or reading process whatsoever.
So, if you enjoy a book but it starts to drag because it’s huge or if you are hesitant to start a huge book – remember – breaks are your friend, or at least they were for me.
When does one quit?
Many times I have slogged through the crappiest reads just for the sake of finishing it. I had started it and invested so much time that I felt compelled to finish.
Time wasted on a shit book, when there are so many amazing pieces out there you could be reading and so little time to read them.
I still fall into that trap sometimes (it’s hard not to), but generally if a book hasn’t hooked me by the 30- 40% mark, I try to put it down. That is still quite a bit of time to invest, but one of the best books I read last year (Stoner by John Williams), didn’t really captivate me until about half way through. In the end it was one of my favourite books that year.
Audio books are also great for a commute or a drive. Audible charges $14.95/month – this will get you one book every month, also many (or all?) public libraries offer downloadable audio books for free.
I use Goodreads to keep a wish list of reading and set reading challenges. This year my challenges is 25 books (currently at 7); last year was 20 (made it). You can also keep track of what your friends are reading.
I hope this has been helpful and I look forward to updating you on what I am reading every month or so. Remember, keep reading.