Reading for Life

Book I went to the library today and checked out a book that I placed “on hold” about six weeks ago (I was number 16 on the list!). Today, my number was up.  I could hardly wait to pick the book up.  And now I can hardly wait to finish this post to get into the first pages.

A while back, I was making a list of personal development projects that I wanted to work on, followed by a statement or a list of reasons why that particular project.  One item on the list: “Read for personal development.”  My reasons?  “Over time, I will become more informed, my brain will be healthier, I will have a broader range of knowledge to share from, I will learn tidbits that I can apply to my life and incrementally improve it [and pass on to others, too], I will become a better writer, I will stay mentally sharp.”  In Change Your Thinking, Change Your LIfe…, Brian Tracy writes that the average American reads less than one book per year, and 58% of adult Americans never read another book from cover to cover after they leave high school.  That is an astounding fact!  He goes on to say that if you read one hour per day, one book per week, you will be getting the equivalent of a Ph.D. in your field every year.  Also astounding!

In our day and age, there is no excuse for not reading.  Good literature is just too accessible to not take advantage of it.  You can learn just about anything you wish to learn by reading.  Not only are there countless volumes on countless subjects in local libraries, but there are countless sources of information on the internet via websites and blog sites and university sites, etc., etc., etc.  There are online bookstores where you can buy an ebook and download it instantly onto your digital reader or smart phone.  No more waiting in lines.  No more waiting at all!

I have learned so many beneficial things with books as my primary learning tool.  Most notably probably would be the library I built on family when I was a young wife and mother—books on building relationships, marriage, building children’s self-esteem, disciplining children, educating children, etc.  I’ve often heard it said that parenthood doesn’t come with a manual, but that was not the case for me—although I did have to seek out the manuals and purchase them. Because it was important to me to get these most-important-things in my life right, I somehow found the time and money to invest in myself and my family.

I also learned more “hands-on” subjects via books.  Steve and I built our home in 2005, and the plan was that this would be the house we would live in for the rest of our lives.  So it had to be right.  To get what we wanted and to stay within our budget, we had to do some creative strategizing.  We wanted tile floors—not an inexpensive item, especially the labor.  I decided that I could lay the tile myself.

It took nine months to build our home.  For the first seven months, I read, read, read about laying tile. I bought all the materials.  I read, read, read some more.  Around month seven, the time came to actually put all my “learning” into practice.  Sure, I had to have some initial coaching (I had never actually laid a single tile, nor had I seen it done other than in pictures in books), but my hand-knowledge soon caught up with my head knowledge.  It took me MUCH longer to do than it would have taken a professional (or even a more-experienced amateur), but I completed three bathrooms, a utility room, a slate-tile entry (that was a tremendous challenge because slate tiles are not truly square), a custom shower, a custom kitchen floor, and a custom kitchen backsplash.  It was quite a feat—and I didn’t walk upright for six weeks—but my house literally has my “fingerprints” all over it!  And it all started with reading.

In the past couple of years I have applied my reading philosophy to my newly-discovered love for running.  By educating myself, I have prevented much pain and suffering from running injuries and burnout.  I have learned what to eat, when to eat and how to recover to get the most out of my running.  I have learned how to cross-train to keep my body in balance.  I have learned why to stretch, when to stretch and how to stretch to keep my body out of shock!  I’m a stronger, healthier person because of reading.

Granted, reading is not a be-all-end-all.  True experts in their fields are not self-made.  They have all been taught, mentored and/or coached, by someone who knows more about their subject than they do.  But everyone can learn something substantial about anything—by reading.

With all this wealth of resource at our fingertips, isn’t it amazing that people still choose to veg out in front of the television and grow dumber and dumber by the hour? Smile

This is day 14 of the 30-day challenge.  I’m really surprised that there’s no one out there that’s challenged themselves to read more—maybe a X pages a day or a chapter a day or a book a week.  Maybe there is.  Did you?  Are you thinking about it?  Please click on “comments” below and let me know.  I love reading your feedback.  Right now, I’m going to go break in my library book!

Photo compliments of Giulio Bernardi via Compfight

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8 Responses to Reading for Life

  1. Carla says:

    So, what book are you reading now?

    I picked up “the Alchemist” after hearing several people talk about it. It’s a great read, and I look forward to finishing it on my next trip.

    At work, we have a book club and we’re reading “Beyond Talent” by John Maxwell. I think of you when I’m reading it. I think you would like it!

    • Diane says:

      Thanks for the referral, Carla. I had actually heard about the Alchemist from my son and had thought about reading it. You’ve just tipped the scales. I’m adding them both to my reading list. 🙂

  2. LynnDee Summers says:

    I just read “The Alchemist” a couple of months ago. Definitely worth reading. I am starting to read more than what I have been lately. I used to read a new book basically every other day, but in the last year or two, I have not read as much. Like you said Diane, it is amazing how much there is to read out there and how accessible it is! I almost feel like I should not ask questions anymore because I can just type in the question and read about it! Lately, I have been starting to read some informative books to prepare myself more for different areas within school. I am enjoying getting back into reading more!

    • Diane says:

      Reading a book every other day? Wow! You are a much faster reader than I am!
      I like your strategy of preparing for different areas by reading on the subjects ahead of time. You must be a teacher’s dream! I’m definitely putting The Alchemist on my reading list. You’re the third person to mention it to me.

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  4. Brittany says:

    Reading this post challenged my patterns of thinking that say “you don’t have enough time” when it comes to reading books. I tend to be an “all or nothing” type of person when it comes to projects (i.e. reading, working on a project, writing, etc.) So, for example, if I was going to read a book I would have in my mind that it needed to be read within a few days. If I didn’t think I could get the book read in just a few short days, then I wouldn’t pick it up. Reading a few pages at a time is a much better way of tackling this though. As I read this post, my excuse of “not having enough time” faded into the background. In it’s place is a new challenge to read (even if it’s only a short excerpt or a few pages) on a topic that enhances my life (personal, spiritual, professional, etc.) every day. I even put it on the sticky notes of my computer to deliberately remember. 🙂

    • Diane says:

      I know exactly what you mean, Brittany, about all or nothing. If you combine the post about reading with the post titled “Know Your Why,” you get the equivalent of what you wrote in your comment. Little steps, little progresses do add up.

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