Why Is It Important to Read Books and How to Read More Books
“Read an hour every day. This works out to about one book per week, fifty books per year, and will guarantee your success.” –Brian Tracy
Why is it that most successful and enlightened people emphasize the importance of reading?
Many would argue that reading has always been the most respectable way to acquire knowledge and gain access to the thoughts and ideas promoted by the greatest minds in the world.
I couldn’t agree more, but there is another thing we rarely pay attention to when we evangelize the importance of reading.
Reading can help you develop your most important thinking types. These, can be categorized as follows:
- Critical thinking. The mental process of objectively analyzing a situation by gathering information from all possible sources, and then evaluating both the tangible and intangible aspects, as well as the implications of any course of action.
- Implementation thinking. The ability to organize ideas and plans in a way that they will be effectively carried out.
- Conceptual thinking. The ability to find connections or patterns between abstract ideas and then piece them together to form a complete picture.
- Innovative thinking. Generating new ideas or new ways of approaching things to create possibilities and opportunities.
- Intuitive thinking. The ability to take what you may sense or perceive to be true and, without knowledge or evidence, appropriately factor it into the final decision.
All these types of thinking are incredibly valuable in today’s hyperactive social environment.
In such an environment, the ability to ponder possibilities, see patterns and connections that others don’t see, and look at the same data in new and different ways represents a formidable competitive advantage.
And this is something that can only be acquired by a constant stream of knowledge that only books can provide.
Warren Buffett, the man commonly referred to as the greatest investor of the 20th century, was standing in front of 165 wide-eyed students from Columbia University some years ago.
One of the students raised his hand and asked Buffett for his thoughts on the best way to prepare for an investing career. After thinking for a moment, Buffett pulled out a stack of papers and trade reports he had brought with him and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
Now, deciding to start reading books on a daily basis is easier said than done.
It is a process that requires practice and immense self-discipline. Spending even one hour a day in reading can play a huge role in developing a reading habit.
If you are already an avid reader, an hour of reading will be a normalcy for you.
If, however, you aren’t really used to excessive reading, this might be a bit trickier.
Reading requires a state of mind where you actually surrender yourself to the narrative and let go of all distractions and outside stimuli.
My advice would be to start small and then keep building up.
By small, I mean 30-40 pages a day. 30-40 pages is small enough that it’s not intimidating. Most people can finish reading 20 pages within 30 minutes, which means that you can easily finish 30-40 pages within an hour.
Finally, 30-40 pages may seem small but adds up fast. It’s a great average speed.
If you follow this pattern, which you will, you can finish 3-4 books within 30 days, which is a huge achievement.
You will be surprised by the amount of knowledge and the ideas you will accumulate from 3-4 books. And I am quite confident that after you start, you won’t be able to stop.
Here are some great books to get you started:
The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs around the world didn’t finish college. The skills they required in order to build their empires were acquired outside educational institutions and most of them had to learn them on their own.
Ellsberg set out to fill in the missing pieces by interviewing a wide range of millionaires and billionaires who don’t have college degrees, including fashion magnate Russell Simmons and Facebook founding president Sean Parker.
This book doesn’t propose that you should drop out of college in order to become a millionaire, but it certainly suggests some unquestionably powerful practices followed by extremely successful people.
Key Ideas of the book:
- The world doesn’t always care whether we want to make a difference or have an impact on it. Making an impact should be an individualistic process.
- Find powerful people and help them reach their goals. If you’re of service to them, they will be of service back.
- No single skill you could possibly learn correlates more directly with your real-world success than learning sales.
- Switch from an employee mindset to an entrepreneur mindset.
Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
This is a bestselling business classic on the power of relationships and networking when building a successful career. Keith Ferrazzi, the son of a small-town steelworker and a cleaning lady, first used his remarkable ability to connect with others to pave the way to Yale, a Harvard M.B.A., and several top executive posts. Not yet out of his thirties, he developed a network of relationships that stretched from Washington’s corridors of power to Hollywood’s A-list, leading to him being named one of Crain’s 40 Under 40 and selected as a “Global Leader for Tomorrow” by the Davos World Economic Forum.
The purpose of the book is to help you create a networking strategy, how to connect with others who can help you, how to use your network to meet even more people who can help, how to use your network to achieve your goals, and how to stand out in your network and provide value to them.
Ferrazzi’s form of connecting to the world around him is based on generosity, helping friends connect with other friends. Ferrazzi distinguishes genuine relationship-building from the crude, desperate glad-handing usually associated with “networking.” He then distils his system of reaching out to people into practical, proven principles.
Key Ideas of the book:
- Don’t keep score: It’s never simply about getting what you want. It’s about getting what you want and making sure that the people who are important to you get what they want, too.
- “Ping” constantly: The ins and outs of reaching out to those in your circle of contacts all the time—not just when you need something.
- Never Eat Alone: The dynamics of status are the same whether you’re working at a corporation or attending a social event—“invisibility” is a fate worse than failure.
- Become the “King of Content”: How to use social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to make meaningful connections, spark engagement, and curate a network of people who can help you with your interests and goals.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Clutter is present in every aspect of our lives. From our office to our kitchen and from the streets of the city we inhabit, to the places we visit for holidays, the propensity of every human to generate stuff just makes clutter an indispensable part of the world we live in.
We really don’t do this on purpose. Time changes the meaning of things and you simply accumulate stuff you don’t really need anymore. It happens to the best of us.
The point is that keeping everything around you current and relevant is a process that requires a very structured and responsible way of thinking.
Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results.
Key Ideas of the book:
- You can’t tidy if you never learned how.
- Start by discarding, all at once, intensely and completely.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of categorizing.
- Putting your house in order has a big impact on all aspects of your life.
The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir
I came across this book after I saw the trailer of the upcoming movie, starring Matt Damon. Then I went on Amazon and saw that it has more than 13,000 reviews and that it is a No.1 New York Times Best-Seller so I decided to give it a go. The author didn’t disappoint me at any point. His writing flow is exceptional and the book is filled with suspense and uncertainty.
I enjoy reading fiction because it helps me expand my imagination and also gives me insight into a different form of writing style. This book portrays the story of Mark Watney, who became the first person to walk on Mars. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, he decides to use his willpower and engineering skills to find a way to survive despite the impossible odds against him.
I am not going to reveal what happens but if you enjoy science and want to get lessons on what it means to never give up then you should definitely read this book.
Gorilla Mindset by Mike Cernovich
I have been following Mike and his blog Danger & Play for quite some time now and I truly believe that he is one of the most successful and influential bloggers in his category. Mike is covering similar topics to the ones I investigate and his delivery is extremely powerful.
He manages to dissect really complex ideas and by identifying their core components help you take action and live a healthier, wealthier and more purposeful lifestyle. Gorilla Mindset is like his personal Manifesto where he highlights his most radical ideas and suggest ways to unleash the “gorilla” inside you and enjoy a life of absolute freedom.
Key Ideas of the book:
- You should never candy-coat truths; but being overly dramatic is both inaccurate and unhelpful.
- What you focus on is what you feel.
- Use Mindfulness as a tool to control your emotional state.
- Mindset is vision: Change what you see, change what you get.
How to read more books – Make it a habit
Reading for 1 hour every day is also one of the 30 challenges proposed in “30 Challenges – 30 Days – Zero Excuses.” I would strongly advise you to attempt some of the challenges. You have nothing to lose and so much to gain.
Latest posts by Andrian Iliopoulos (see all)
- 5 Critical Mental Models to Add to Your Cognitive Repertoire - June 12, 2017
- The Art of Storytelling: Taking a Deep Dive Into the Mechanics of a Great Story - May 25, 2017
- The Anti-Motivation Manifesto - May 18, 2017