So, I love books. Ever since I was little, I was drawn to books. Even before I could read myself- I would ask my parents to read to me all the time, and then could sit for hours and “read” it from the pictures. When I was in 2nd grade I got my library card and borrowed my first book. I finished it on the ride back home so we were back at the library the other day for another. I read Victor Hugo’s les Miserables by the end of 3rd grade, and kept on reading vigorously through middle school and high school- focusing on fantasy, science fiction (I think I’ve read every Asimov book translated to Hebrew) and history. My military service put a temporary stop to this habit, but after graduating from the Naval Academy I had more time on my hands (and was travelling for several hours by train almost every day), so I was back- this time reading mostly in English, which is not my native language. I read many classics at that time- from Moby Dick to Lord of the Rings Trilogy and anything in between. University meant I was reading all the time- mainly academic books and articles but I was fine with it. Upon graduation I’ve started working at jobs that required travel so I’ve had lots of time to kill on flights. This time my focus shifted to business books and “light-science” books like Gladwell’s “The Tipping point” and Thomas L. Friedman “thank you for being late”.
I then discovered a great little website that helps you find new books, rate them and keep track of what you’ve read. Called Goodreads.com- you can view my reading history here:
Several years ago, the site started a self-motivation scheme, where you set your own reading goal and try to reach or beat it. This year I crashed it by reading 16 books (over the 14 I set out to read). Here’s the list: https://www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/7658832
I’m happy I’m reading in full force again, and would like to share some of my insights about reading in general, and the books I’ve in particular. But before I do that, please let me explain why reading is important, and why it is important to me. It is now widely known that many successful people read a lot. Bill gates reads a book every week-
and many others including Mark Cuban and Elon Musk testified that reading was part of their success
You can ask me- we all read all the time- websites, text messages, social media posts. Why are books, and the act of reading one, still important to you? For me, reading books serve several purposes:
1. Source of deep knowledge
Books differ from shorter content that is abound nowadays. It takes an individual at the minimum 1-2 years to write even a shorter, business book (not to mention a longer novel). A book is well researched, goes thorough many interactions and, in general, has much more meaningful “insights” than any other type of written content.
Books have inspired people for a millennia. I’m both inspired by a books’ content and admire the writer how’s taken the time and effort to complete it. I hope that one day I too will join this prestigious club.
3. Relaxation from daily noise
The act of picking a book, sitting down and reading ( I can do this at home, on a crowded train or plane) somehow disconnects me from the outer world and allows me to spend some quite “me” time, which is much needed in my hectic daily life.
4. Mental challenge
I rarely challenge myself mentally, so having to read through a long, complex book is a challenge I embrace. When I finish a chapter or the entire book I try to recap it’s main messages (I used to write a mini-review of every book I’ve finished. Try this trick- it’s fun and challenging:
5. It improves my writing skills
Reading has immensely improved my vocabulary, my style and ideation. Aside from actually writing (which I also do quite a lot on a daily basis)- it is the single most important activity I can do to improve as a writer.
And the actual books? Well, they were a mixture of novels (although not that many I’m afraid), business books and science (mainly about Behavioral economics). I’d like to keep the ration of “business-to-fiction” to 2:1, so I’ll get some aesthetic value and not just hardcore facts and figures. As for the volume of reading- the secret is to weave reading into your daily routine. I’ve found that I can easily read 10 page per day (double that if I’m reading in my native tongue), so it should be fairly easy to finish a standard book ( which is about 220 pages of text nowadays) in slightly under a month.
I will set the bar higher at 16 books for 2019, and try to exceed it.
Have a happy, book-filled year!