I have been an avid reader for most of my life; growing up, both my parents and my siblings were also avid readers. It’s a habit that I’ve always enjoyed and it’s a value that I’m proud to have now passed on to my children as well.
Until about four years ago, I mostly read fiction – my favorites were romances or mysteries (which I still enjoy occasionally) – but one day a very educated friend of mine, asked what were the last 3 books I read and said, “you know, you are what you read”. After sharing my list… I didn’t think those books were the ones I wanted to define “me.” Hmm…
Unrelated to this…or maybe not so unrelated… around the same time, I decided to start my business, Purple Ink. My very first goal was to challenge myself to only read non-fiction management and leadership books for the rest of the year. I wanted to learn how I could be better at business, grow my business, and better serve clients. My second year in business, my goal was to read one business related book for every fiction book I read, and the last few years I’ve maintained reading one non-fiction book for every fiction book.
After years of formal continuing education and training in both the accounting and HR worlds, I feel certain that I learned more in my self-directed reading and learning in the past few years than I have learned in all of my other years of formal education combined!
It was a huge aha for me! Of course, research has told us for years that “readers” have better vocabularies, better grammar, and better writing skills (I’m not sure any of those happened for me), but I definitely became more educated, learned new perspectives (some I agreed with and some not), and became a better social and professional conversationalist.
Now I know –most people say they don’t have time to read. In our busy worlds, it can be difficult to make time to read – until it becomes a habit that you make a priority. For me personally, it used to be about always having a book with me: at my child’s soccer practice, at the doctor’s office, etc. Sometimes I was reading in 5-minute increments, and sometimes 60 minutes at a time.
In more recent years, though, I gradually integrated more and more audio books. I download them from the library for free, and “carry” them with me on my iPhone. I listen to them in my car, while I walk the dog, and while I make dinner – ok, so, that particular one doesn’t happen so often! But I do end up reading about a book a week!
So, what’s your excuse? What are you reading? Why aren’t you reading more?