For the last few years I have followed the practice of reading one book a week (on average). I may have four or five books on the nightstand, but I make it a goal to start and finish one every 7 days. This translates to close to 50 books a year. That’s a lot of books, especially when studies show the average person reads fewer than two books a year.
What do I read? Books on health, biographies, spirituality, self-discipline, relationships, time management, goal setting, blogging, writing, motivation, excellence, and creativity make up the bulk of my non-fiction choices. I read lots of fiction, especially espionage and murder mysteries, or those about technology crimes.
Where does all this lead? The real benefit comes not from what you read but rather from the habit of reading. When you read a new book every week, you condition your mind to keep taking in new knowledge. Your thinking remains fresh and sharp. Your brain is always churning on new ideas looking for new distinctions it can make. Every day you pour in more ideas, which your brain must find a way to integrate into your existing knowledge base. With the world's known knowledge now estimated to double every 30 days, there is a lot to learn.
Reading is much like physical exercise. Reading is a workout for the brain. Author Pat Williams says, "the right books are a crowbar for the imagination." Just as toning your body requires the habit of regular exercise, toning your mind requires the ongoing habit of reading. And just as a lack of exercise will cause your muscles to atrophy, a lack of fresh mental exercise will cause your mind to atrophy. The good news is within a few months of working at developing the habit of reading, it will simply become part of your life.
Reading a book a week is an enormously worthwhile habit. And it’s enjoyable too. All that’s required is to set aside 30-60 minutes each day to sit down and read. You can also read (or listen) with physical exercise. I can read 20-30 minutes while on the treadmill at the gym. When I go for a 2 mile walk around a local park I can listen to part of an audio program I borrowed from the library. That is an additional 60 minutes of absorbing new ideas.
With such a routine, I usually have an abundance of ideas for new blog posts and conversation with family and friends. I can maintain a strong flow of interesting ideas going out because there’s a strong flow going in. Every week I’m making new distinctions as my brain integrates new knowledge with existing knowledge.
All of the above applies not just to reading of course, but to the general practice of absorbing new information, including seminars, audio programs, meaningful conversations, classes, etc. Reading articles or blog entries on line is also helpful, assuming you’re learning new ideas that challenge you and which make you think. If you forget it as soon as you read it, it won’t be of much value.
If you are looking for a book to read that helps "sell" you on the reason to read more, try Pat Williams' Read For Your Life. He presents eleven different ways for transforming your life with books. He has 19 children, is an executive in the NBA, and reads a book a day.
Author and satirist P. J. O'Rourke said, "Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it."
Mark Twain said, " a person who won't read has no advantage over a person who can't read."
Read a book a week. You’ll love the results.