Often times I think our society is all backwards. We pay football players millions while we pay our teachers less than many professional folks. We as a society value entertainment way more than education.
We often reflect this value in our own lives too. We’ll graduate high school or college and never read another nonfiction book again in our entire lives. So, we’ll know who is the next American idol, but not have learned hardly anything since our last day of school.
Do you know what this means? This means that if you graduated college more than 5 years ago, a high school drop out could pass you up in knowledge and understanding by reading a lot of books. This means you are letting opportunities pass you by.
I think it’s sad that a working professional with 20 years of experience can be replaced by a fresh college graduate just because that working professional decided to stop learning 20 years ago.
You want to get ahead in your career? You want to start a business, but don’t know how? You want to keep ahead of the game and not become obsolete? A good place to start is with nonfiction books.
I hear that the average millionaire reads a nonfiction book a month. That’s probably a good pace to begin. One nonfiction book per month is really not that hard. A lot of books can be read in a few hours. If you fit in 10-30 minutes of reading several times a week, you should be able read a book in about a month.
Sticking To It
If you have a hard time sticking with it, find a friend who will read it too. You can get together once a week and discuss the chapter you both just read. Another thought is to find a book club. Find one where they read nonfiction books. Entertainment books are ok, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.
What To Read
“So what should I read?” you might ask. Well, it depends on what you want to learn. Here are a few books I think everyone should read regardless of their profession or goals:
- The Bible (Seriously. I recommend you read this.)
- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
- Switch – Chip Heath & Dan Heath
- Getting Things Done – David Allen
- The Fifth Discipline – Peter Senge
- Getting to Yes – Roger Fisher, William L. Ury and Bruce Patton
- Now! Discover Your Strengths - Marcus Buckingham or Strengths Finder 2.0 – Tom Rath
- Boundaries – Henry Cloud and John Townsend
There are tons of other good books out there (there’s a lot of trash out there too). This list should get you started, but don’t forget to read good books that are relevant to your profession.
How To Find Good Books
Here are a few tips to finding other good books to read:
- When you’re reading a good book, the author often will cite other good books.
- When you’re talking to a “book reader” friend and they cite a book, that’s probably a good book.
- When you read an interesting blog online (particularly if it’s from an author you like) and they reference a book, that’s probably a good book.
- If you hear your favorite motivational speaker cite a book, that’s almost certainly a good book.
Keep a list of recommended books on your person at all times. This is a great use for your shiny new iPhone 4 (I know what you’re thinking. The answer is, “no!” … Do not get an iPhone 4 just to keep a list of books). Whenever you hear of another good book, add it to the list. If you keep this up, you’ll find that you can’t read fast enough and keep up with all the good books to read.
How To Read
Right now, I’m reading a book titled Love Is The Killer App, by Tim Sanders (Good Book Alert!). Mr Sanders has a great approach to reading books. He doesn’t just mark in his book. He writes cliff notes, little summaries, of different sections on the front and back covers of the book.
This approach is a great way for you to capture the ideas and to make them your own. Of course, if you think the book is trash and you’re still holding your judgement, maybe you’ll want wait on the notes until you’re convinced. But if you become convinced, go back and write up those notes with a vengeance.
I haven’t been that great at note taking or book marking. Now I need to start carrying a pen with me when I’m going to read.
I think I’m going to curl up with a good book. Maybe you should too.