In Part I of this article, I shared with you why it’s critical for all of us to become better readers. And also why and how we sabotage our reading habit.
In this part, let’s talk about the What and the How.
What should you read?
Think along these lines when you pick up your reading material:
- Read the good books. Avoid trash if you know it’s trash.
- Read the great books – the classics, the enduring works.
- Read broadly – books of various genre.
- Read the difficult books. Challenge your skills a bit.
- Read in as many languages as you can. Other than helping you become better at many languages, books of different tongues have unique ways of presenting ideas and coloring life. You will get additional perspectives.
- Read books with opposing ideas to your own. You don’t have to agree with the opposite point of view, but at least you can be informed enough to reinforce your own.
- Read blogs, articles and online content sites. These are by far the best repositories of newer and emerging ideas. Information is doubling at a blinding pace – don’t be left behind.
- Read good fiction. Your emotional intelligence, empathy and social skills are all enhanced when you read works of fiction. It’s a surprisingly effective tool for leadership growth – delving into the lives of characters, and experiencing situations along with them.
- Read history, current affairs.
- Read biographies and autobiographies: An easy way to observe and talk with the great ones that walked this earth.
- Read books on the future, science and possibility thinking: to know all that you and the world are capable of, in the immediate future.
- Read spiritual literature and philosophy: You need to regularly step outside your own body and look at the world (and yourself) from another angle.
- Read business books : stories, how-to, and research. Learn new skills and then apply them.
- Read books on personal growth and motivation: everyone needs a healthy dose of motivation and fuel to keep surging ahead. On a regular basis.
- Read poetry: Though I am not into poetry, I know people who find this to be deeply enriching. In many ways.
Why and how should you build a home library?
- Your library is your legacy. It’s the greatest inheritance you can leave behind in addition to your values, family culture and exemplary life.
- One idea from one book in one corner of your library may change the life of your child or grandchild. You never know in what amazing ways future generations may apply the treasure-trove of knowledge stored in your library.
- If you don’t give the right values and thinking to your children, they will borrow it from someone else. You cannot predict what those will be. One way to make direct them on the right path is by intentionally cultivating a reading habit in them, and then building a library for them to develop it.
- Your library will become a sanctuary of peace and inspiration for you, much like the ‘worship-place’ in your home.
- Get started by collecting/ buying books that speak to you.
- Never hesitate to buy books for your library. Someone has to benefit from it, if not you. At any given time, I have 40% books on my shelf that I haven’t read (and I read quite a bit!). I reassure myself that it’s all part of a grand library I am creating for my daughter.
How to cultivate the reading habit:
- Set a daily goal of reading for 15-30 minutes
- Set a goal of reading at least 1 book from different categories (self-help, philosophy, spiritual, business-general, business-how-to, biography-autobiography, fiction, history, current affairs-politics etc)
- Set up RSS feeds of your some websites, blogs, authors, online magazines etc that are of your interest. Curate and read.
- Pick your medium. If you don’t like to lug around the printed version, read on a kindle or iPad. Personally, I love the feel of holding a real book, turning and dog-earing pages and marking and making notes on it with my pen.
- Have a book on you at all times – on long flights, on vacations, on bus journeys, in coffee shops, in your car (audiobooks preferably).
While we are on the How, you know what- there’s a book about how to read a book! (Go figure that!)
The most surprising way to develop the habit of reading is to begin the ‘writing habit’. Once you get into the habit of writing anything – a journal, blog, articles etc, you will want to read so that you have newer material and content to fuel your thoughts, ideas and vocabulary.
Another way is to consume audiobooks. Use your travel time well. If you commute for at least ½ an hour a day, you can listen to 1-2 books a month. In a year, you would have listened to around 20 books, give or take. That’s a great start.
There you have it! Reading is one of the best favors you can willingly do to yourself and others.
As Charles T Jones said, you will be the same person 5 years from now, except for the books you read and the people you meet.
You always have control over the former.