When I was seven years old, my teacher wrote on a report card that I had a “voracious hunger for books.”
After conquering the “See Sally run” sentences, I was eager to find out who else was running around the world. It’s been a lifelong pursuit ever since.
I was very lucky to have two parents who encouraged me to read. It first started with my mother, who bought me children’s books from our local grocery store. I remember looking at the “Little Golden Books” display near the checkout area and my mother would invariably pick one and place it on the conveyor belt next to the eggs and milk.
Then there was the time when my father gave me one of the best surprises ever for a book-loving little girl.
On a Friday after work, he visited the nearby library and asked the librarian to help him find books for his daughter. And boy, did she ever. He arrived home with two large grocery bags full of children’s books. I was completely elated!
First thought: Wow, I have the entire weekend to read these great books!
I finished all of them within a week.
My neighborhood friends and I would spend our summers riding our bicycles three miles one way to visit our local library. When the “bookmobile” visited the shopping center up the street, I was there.
And when my fifth-grade classroom received a shipment from our book club, seeing the big brown box with “SCHOLASTIC” printed on the side meant it was going to be a very good day.
There are a few reasons why I’m telling you this.
First, if you have children—please encourage them to read. Not only read them bedtime stories but use books as bribes (as my parents did). Use them as gifts. Make a big deal out of getting a library card.
Second, I would not be nearly as successful as I am with my writing business if it had not been for my parents. They initiated and encouraged my love for books. My schoolteachers just validated it.
Wealthy people read
I just came across an infographic that showed the difference of how wealthy people spent their time versus the poor.
You may be surprised.
Wealthy people invest in themselves. This means they invest in their intellectual development, among other areas. They don’t watch a lot of TV. Instead, they read books.
It’s a well-known fact that CEOs are voracious readers. They read on average 4-5 books a month. Compare this to the typical American who only will read one book a year. This is both saddening and shocking.
How can we as a country develop new and innovative ideas if we’re not feeding our minds?
More importantly, how can you be successful if you’re not investing in yourself the same way?
The great news is that a library card is free. For many years, I rarely bought any books. I would instead visit the library or search online for the title I wanted and then either find or reserve the book. Sometimes there was a waiting period but other times I was able to immediately get the book I wanted.
Today, many libraries allow their members to check out eBooks through their online sites. So if you have a Kindle device or tablet, you can have access to thousands of books. All with a few clicks of your mouse.
Read and feed your mind
Many CEOs don’t necessarily read the hottest business books but rather an eclectic mix of fiction and non-fiction. They love learning for the pure pleasure of acquiring new knowledge.
They also realize that as they expand their minds, it will develop a new perspective, which usually helps them solve business challenges. Plus, it just makes them more interesting. A CEO is often interested in more than business topics. If you had the opportunity to converse with them, you would find they might be passionate about Japanese history, art or poetry.
Feeding your mind should be a lifelong commitment, not just one more task to slog through during high school and college.
I remember those days, too. I remember longing to read a book for the sheer joy of it, not because I had to write a paper about it. Finally I graduated and then had the pleasure of finding good books to read again.
Your mind is another type of “digestive system.”
You can eat a candy bar, which may give you an energy spike but it won’t give you long-term energy like eating a bowl full of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Your mind is no different.
If you feed your mind “junk food” like reality TV and trivial YouTube videos, you’re not going to get long-term performance.
But if you feed your mind ideas from the great classical literature of our time or dynamic leadership principles of our modern age, you’re going to build a strong foundation for success. Read enough of those types of books and you won’t be able to avoid coming up with great ideas.
My husband just purchased a Kindle Paperwhite. He already had a sizeable library built from his previous use of the original Kindle. He loves books about pirates, biographies, history and philosophy. He is always learning which inspires me to do the same.
This week, commit to reading more. Maybe you have a half-read book on your nightstand that needs to be finished but you abandoned it months ago. Pick it up, finish it, and then choose a new book to read.
Or maybe you haven’t been to the library in years.
Why not visit?
Take a look at the new book section and borrow one that captures your fancy. There are plenty of books to choose from and it only takes a few minutes to browse before making your choice.
Years ago, I would visit a bookstore as a reward for completing an unpleasant or boring task. Set a date with yourself to do something similar whether it’s with a local bookstore or the library.
It is my hope that you will start to lose yourself in the pure pursuit of reading a good story and be inspired to learn more about a particular subject. It is definitely time well spent.