Why I Read Everything I Can Get My Hands On
It's funny. Over the last year or so, reading has become something I'm known for. What an odd habit to be associated with, right? Why would I be known for something like this? I'll tell you why. I'll also tell you why it's so important for you to get a similar reputation.
My first year-long project was to read 52 books in 52 weeks. When I started, I was doing it because I hadn't taken much time to myself during the previous months, and because I thought it would be something cool to say I've accomplished (it is). By the end of the project, though, I was reading for entirely different reasons.
One of the reasons was simply that reading had become a habit. Like anything else, if you read at the same time(s) every day it will become compulsive. But the largest reason I kept up the goal, and why I'm still on pace to read 40+ books this year, is because of the growth that comes with reading voraciously.
Before I started reading intentionally, I was rather dreadful at reading. I was incredibly slow, and had a lot of difficulty comprehending what I did read. As a student who did relatively well in school, most friends who'd study with me would be quick to notice this. I wasn't dumb, but I was well behind the reading curve.
By the end of the project, I was up to average reading levels, maybe slightly above average - a huge accomplishment for me! More importantly, there's been a real-life, everyday application of this growth. I now have a frame of reference, and usually a case study, for most any situation or conversation that comes up during my day-to-day. In fact, I pull references so often that it's become a running joke with those closest to me!
I can't tell you how many conversations or answers to questions I've started with the phrase "Well, I was reading a book..." Now when I start with that phrase, I'm interrupted with "Of course you were!" accompanied by a chuckle of amusement. Even though it's become a joke for others, the wealth of information comes in handy all the time.
A coworker expresses a woe or makes a suggestion. I'm able to give advice or make a thoughtful contribution to help improve the situation. My wife brings up a point about what happened at work or something about our lives together, and I'm able to add what so-and-so expert suggests. You don't have to do this too many times to get (what I would call) a good reputation out of it! Reading everything I can get my hands on gives me a leg up in the world.
Completely forget about any possible recognition. If you read and read and read what the experts have to say on topics you care about, that relate to your situation and where you want to go in life, you are going to have a leg up in the world. That could apply to business, faith, personal finance, the arts, personal development, even history!
Warren Buffet, the business tycoon known for Berkshire Hathaway and arguably the most successful man alive, says that he spends the majority of each day reading. He's not necessarily reading Harry Potter. It's more like what this and that leader said on this and that subject, or what this and that business is doing and why.
Many successful leaders across industries - anywhere from music to tech - will also say that they were able to grow and rise to the top because they read everything they could get their hands on. They keep trying to learn to learn and to grow.
Continually building my frame of reference through reading doesn't make me better. It makes me more useful, both at work and home. Take people you know who read non-fiction all the time. If you ask them a question about anything, they probably have an answer for you, and a reference to boot. The beautiful thing is that being able to do this has very little to do with intelligence.
Sure it helps to be naturally more intelligent if you're constantly trying to learn new things. But you don't have to be genetically predisposed to genius to gain value from reading and learning. I choose to read because I enjoy it, and because the knowledge it brings is useful for my everyday life.
It's something simple that helps me be a more fulfilled person. That's why I read everything I can get my hands on. That's why I think it would be valuable for you to do the same.