Reading

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”    Joseph Addison

On occasion, I am asked for reading material recommendations. The most influential, notable books I have read throughout my life include:

  • The Bible
  • Man’s Search for Meaning, Dr. Viktor Frankl
  • The Laws of Success, Napoleon Hill
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven R. Covey
  • The Greatest Salesman in the World, Og Mandino
  • Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill
  • Gung Ho, Ken Blanchard
  • The Road Less Traveled, Scott Peck, M.D.
  • Good to Great, Jim Collins, MBA
  • The Effective Executive, Peter F. Drucker
  • First, Break All the Rules, Marcus Buckingham
  • The New Strategic Thinking Pure and Simple, Michel Robert
  • The Executive Guide to Strategic Planning, George Morrissey, Betty L. Acomb, and Patrick J. Below
  • See You at the Top, Zig Ziglar
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie
  • The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale, Th. D.
  • Green Eggs and Ham, Seuss
  • The Three Little Pigs from English Fairy Tales

When I graduated from college, I had already created a habit of reading good books. I recently wrote about this in the blog, Plant A Tree.  Making the decision to faithfully continue this habit for the rest of my life was nothing short of life-changing!   As illustrated by the foregoing list of my favorite books, the preferred categories encompass business leadership espousing successful practices, self-improvement, and material that promotes spiritual enrichment. Occasionally reading a novel adds an element of fun and relaxation. Books on the subjects of fishing and boating also hold a special berth on my list.

Daily reading is a powerful success principle 

In today’s world, available material on any subject of your choosing is voluminous, and much of it is affordable at low cost, or even without cost.  I still like to read books that I can hold in my hand. And I discovered that the selection of many paperback books can be purchased economically through ThriftBooks.com where classic works can be purchased for $4.00 or less; and the service includes delivery straight to your door.

A book-reading habit, which includes listening to audiobooks, provides a great opportunity to gain valuable insight from some of the most successful and influential people from around the Globe.  Great philosophers provide a human navigational compass for us through simply reading their books and articles written about them.  The cost of self-education through such an outstanding medium can be quite economical. The real investment is in the time we spend reading – time invested that ensures a substantial intangible return!

Is there an effective methodology for reading books? Yes, I believe there is. Below is an outline of my process, but I strongly suggest that you create your own personal path. One that works for you.  This is what works for me:

Do not finish all the books you start. If the book is not affecting me in a positive manner, or if I am not in agreement with the author, I simply stop reading that book and store it with other books to give to a local charity.  My time is way too important to read something that has little value for me. Everyone responds to authors in a different way. The book I hold in high regard may be one that you find boring or non-productive for you. Be sure to read only what advances your professional and personal goals.

Take notes.  I have no sacred rules about note-taking. My effort is designed to support my desire for more education, self-improvement, relaxation and enjoyment. Initial notes are often written in the books I am reading. I will underline sentences and sometimes put a phrase in the margin that summarizes the meaning of a sentence or section. Other notes may be taken on a notepad or in my computer. I remain flexible and use what works on any given day.

Create a summary. Reading a book in its entirety usually means it was useful for me. I then refer to it later on to review the underlined sentences and notes. From the notes, I create a summary which is saved in an education folder on my computer. Every month, I take time to go through some of these summaries. It helps in focusing on what I have learned, as well as noting progression toward goals created while reading a specific book. This review tactic can be life-changing for anyone who decides to read at least one book every month – an easy dozen life-changing books within a year has the power to permanently change your life for good. Imagine the results after five years and 60 books! I have personally applied this strategy and can confirm its effectiveness.

Decide on which books to read.  My selection of books is decided by the recommendations from authors I like, as well as suggestions from family and friends.  Not all of the choices I make provide what I anticipated, so I feel no obligation (even if I have paid for the book) to continue reading something that is clearly not working for me. Generally, if one book by an author proves effective for my purposes, I will probably like other books they have written.

Create a designated time for reading.  Any worthwhile habit needs a regular practice schedule. Planned time for reading is a personal choice. My choice of reading schedule is in the evening. The bonus is that I have created a really good habit that has also replaced a former bad habit of watching too much television in the evening hours.

If you are looking for a solution that can produce improvement you are seeking, help you to achieve important goals, increase your level of knowledge and ensure a relaxing hobby, reading books is a guaranteed recipe. Current technology has produced mechanisms for electronic reading and audio listening that assist in our continued education of the subjects in which we are interested.

A section of the bookshelf in my home office is reserved for copies of the books that have been most influential – those included in the list I provided.  Located close to my desk and always visible, these books are a constant reminder of what I have already learned and employed throughout my life. Sometimes, in the midst of deep thoughts, in moments of challenge and opportunity, a simple look at the title of one book will remind me of what I need to do at a precise moment.  A powerful template; easily accessible blueprint of what to do; of what I have actually done in the past. These classic influential books are now part of my story – the gold in the goldmine defining my life journey. Value? For me, it cannot be calculated. Priceless.

How are you going to make the improvement you desire? How are you going to make progress on the most important goals? How are you going to increase your knowledge? How will you relax more in an already busy life?  How will you . . .

Read.