Word count: 2044. Avg read time: 9 minutes.
Note: As with all my articles if you’d rather listen to them than read, simply scroll to the bottom or click here.
I’ve always been a reader. Sometimes I get off the bandwagon of reading for a month or so but I always get back on.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot. And by reading I mean reading actual books. I also like to read articles online but I don’t consider reading online articles as a part of my personal growth.
I remember when I was in high school I read the bible cover to cover about 3 or 4 times. I was a bit of a crazy person back then. The longest book I’ve ever read might have to be Atlas Shrugged. That was fun because I read that during my year long trip around the world.
It got lonely on the road traveling by yourself. It made me think of this quote:
We read to know we’re not alone.
– William Nicholson, Shadowlands
I read recently a statistic that said, “Among all American adults, the average (mean) number of books read or listened to in the past year is 12 and the median (midpoint) number is 5–in other words, half of adults read more than 5 books and
half read fewer. Neither number is significantly different from previous years.” – Source
And according to a Huffington Post poll “28 Percent Of Americans Have Not Read A Book In The Past Year” – Source
Huffington Post also has this to say about some pretty successful people who read.
- Bill Gates reads about 50 books per year, which breaks down to 1 per week
- Mark Cuban reads more than 3 hours every day
- Elon Musk is an avid reader and when asked how he learned to build rockets, he said I read books.
- Mark Zuckerberg resolved to read a book every 2 weeks throughout 2015
- Oprah Winfrey selects one of her favorite books every month for her Book Club members to read and discuss
It isn’t surprising to me that so few people read and it appears many successful people do read. Why would there be a correlation between the amount of success one achieves in life and the amount they read?
For me it make sense because successful people (I’m not just referring to monetary success) whether they know it or not are in the process of personal growth.
It takes a lot to be successful. You have to have discipline, motivation, confidence, self awareness, staying on track, not caring what people think etc. Not only are these personal growth qualities something you get because you read a lot (the act of reading itself is accomplishing a mini goal that requires all these characteristics) but also because you learn those qualities from from the stories you read *in* those books.
For example if you want to be successful financially and read 15 to 20 books in a year about wealth, it’s going to affect you on many levels. The very act of having discipline to learn a new skill will itself be giving you unseen attributes that will allow you to have the ability to bring wealth into your life. Not many people have the discipline to read that many books.
Right off the bat you’re separating yourself into the type of person (no matter what you read) that’s going to bring financial abundance into your life.
Then there’s the content of what you’re actually reading. If the content itself is teaching you skills about how to build wealth then you’ve now won on two fronts.
The very act of reading itself requires a sharp mind, focus, attention, discipline and time management. All skills required to be successful.
It’s important to separate the act of reading from the content of what you’re reading. When the content is something that aligns with your core life mission, you’ve won on two fronts.
It really baffles me that so few people actually read.
To some degree I understand though because life is so busy. For me I’ve had to carve out time to read and cut out other things that got in the way of that. For me that means sleeping a little bit less.
As soon as I get a better handle on my daily routine, I’ll be able to go to sleep earlier which will give me more time I need to sleep.
Because reading is hard to do so few people will do it. There’s a barrier to entry and I think that’s a good thing. It’s easy to sit down in front of the TV and watch your favorite shows. It’s not easy to rearrange your entire schedule so you can get some quiet time alone with a good book.
Books are so great because you can go so deep with them. That’s why they’re always better than movies created from books. The movie usually tells you how things are, books require you to use your own imagination to picture how things are.
Movies don’t allow us to do that, they do that for us.
If you were to listen to a one hour interview with an author talking all about her latest novel she couldn’t even touch the surface of what’s in that book. Writing words on paper allows a person who can’t speak well to bring you into their world for a while.
Writing allows for creativity on both the authors end and the readers end. The reader gets to picture what the author is describing. It’s a beautiful thing.
When I was reading Atlas Shrugged I could picture the streets of New York City in 1941 and big business happening by the beautiful way Ayn Rand described the city.
Ayn Rand (whether you believe in her philosphies or not) was amazing at what she did. She was able to buid an entirely fictional novel around some hard core philosphical belief systems. It was genius.
There was a few court scenes where the defendent would take 40 pages espousing his philosphical insights on who man is. It was pretty profound even from a literary perspective.
That book is a work of art.
Any Rand could never espouse that much information so passionately in an interview. It just can’t be done. Books allow us to go very deep into a particular subject matter which is something people can’t seem to do these days.
Plus reading is just a lot of fun when you’re reading something that you’re passionate about. I like to explore all kinds of subject matters from quantim physics, to religion/spirituality, success principles and more.
A story for a stories sake has never interested me. I intend to put a book list on this website as soon as I can in case you are interested in what I’m reading. Maybe one day we can even do a book of the month club too.
When I look back at certain times in my life I can remember a book I was reading during that time. It’s kind of nostalgic like when I hear a song on the radio it takes me back, the same is true with books.
The nostalgia might even be more strong with books because you’re using your imagination more than when you’re heaing a song on the radio.
Documentaries are also something I like to watch. I’ve had a lot of people write me over the years asking what documentaries I watch. Perhaps I’ll put them on this site.
I could easily make a Youtube playlist of documentaries I like.
I have a lot to do with this website and updating it.
Reading Keeps You Inspired
If you’re feeling down or depressed, reading is a great way to overcome that. Perhaps you’re feeling like a problem in your life is insurmountable.
The beautiful thing about books and reading is that currently we have 7.7 billion people on the planet and probably billions have lived before us.
Chances are pretty high that somebody alive currently or even somebody that’s now dead could have written something and touched you with their words.
Writing a book is like a timeless gift back to humanity that will carry on for hundreds of years into the future. There’s no doubt about it, the wisdom of the world is available to you through reading good literature.
Reading Takes You Into Another World
Sometimes we want a good fictional novel to help us get out of the day to day problems and stresses of our lives. Perhaps we don’t like how our lives are going. Reading how somebody else overcame your same struggle will help you see that other people have the exact same problems.
You can learn how they overcame the odds and show you how you can do it.
Reading Keeps Your Mind Engaged
Reading requires focus and the ability to stay engaged with a singular piece of content for a long duration of time. The mind likes that.
The mind doesn’t like distractions. Distractions do create dopamine hits which are addicting but the mind likes to figure things out, problem solve if you will.
While you’re reading your mind is processing information and creating images about what the author is describing. All of this is happening all at once. The mind likes to have a singular focus and reading provides that.
Reading Improves Your Vocabulary
When you’re reading a good book and the author uses a word you don’t know, generally you can figure out the context and then the meaning of that word.
Many new Kindles and other e-reader devices have the ability to quickly look words up on the fly as you’re reading. It’s pretty incredible what’s possible these days.
Having a good vocabulary gives you options and choices when communicating with other people. Communication might be one of the most powerful skills a person could develop. Being able to use words with power comes from reading and learning.
If you want to have an impact on other people, learn the definitions of more words.
Reading Changes Your Perspective
This is one of the best aspects of reading good book. It helps you to see things in a brand new way. This happened to me when I read the classic A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn.
I began to see how the United States government acted from another perspective. When you read you get the perspective of whoever is writing the book or the characters in the story.
Have a brand new perspective on a person, issue or idea can really help you have more compassion and patience when dealing with them in your life.
Reading is something anybody can do. You just have to do it, in order to develop a love for it. It takes time to develop a love for something. It’s like any relationship, the more time you spend together the stronger your love for each other grows.
Another aspect of reading I really like is that I’m disconnected from everyone and everything when I’m emmersed in my book. I don’t answer emails, I don’t take phone calls, usually it’s nice and quiet and I can be in the world of my own
choosing. I don’t have to bend over to the demands and pressures that other people want to put on me.
If nothing else, reading is an incredible escape from constantly being pinged with emails, texts, calls or messages from other people who want something from you.
I highly encourage you to spend more time reading. Find a good book that you know you’re going to love and start cultivating the habit of spending 30 minutes a day doing something you want to do…investing in yourself.
It’ll be the best thing you ever did.
You’ll thank me for it.
Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.
– Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel via GoodReads
* * *