Have you ever had a conversation with Sir Winston Churchill? Maybe Theodore Roosevelt or Steve Jobs? I have. Furthermore, they have taught me the lessons of their lives.
This is the luxury of reading. I’ve made it my goal to read 12 non-fiction books a year.
More than once, I have been challenged on why I would waste my time reading. I laughingly respond with some witticism about readers being leaders, and by that logic I should be expecting my crown any day. But behind the joke lurks truth, the truth why reading develops both leaders and success.
Since the printing press was created by Johanesses Gutenburg in 1440, the book was the speediest way to share and disseminate ideas until the dawn of the internet. Even now, with the digital revolution fully peaked, and a kindle in every home, I find that a real book is the best way to learn anything.
In childhood, I read ferociously. Like a starving bookworm, I ate up every book I could get my hands on, spending the majority of my day with a book. But, adulthood demands more time and tears me away from my book and chair. Because of this, I resolved that regardless of the busyness of life, I would read at least 12 non-fiction books in a year.
Here are 6 reasons I read 12 Non-Fiction books in a year:
Learn from a master
As noted in our opening paragraph, reading allows that opportunity to learn from experts that you may never meet. What better way can you learn what made Steve Jobs successful except by reading his biography?
Reading makes you more interesting
Perhaps it’s a degree of arrogance, but boring people are a pain to be around. We all know those boring one or two people in our lives that can make bears think it’s time to hibernate. Frequently I’ve found it’s because they do nothing to make themselves interesting. When they speak, it’s never with new information or ideas, just the same bland thing said in the same bland way.
Reading offers varied ideas
More often than not, these 12 books are not all of the same kind. They each cover a different discipline and idea, and broaden my approach to the world. Even when 6 of the books I read one year were different biographies on different Founding Fathers, looking at the same event through 6 different lives and authors gave me a better perspective on the time period.
You make connections you might have missed
When reading a variety of books, you’ll be surprised when similar ideas pop up in dissimilar authors and topics. One year I read the classic The Virginian by Owen Wister, and found a concept about democracy, freeing people to succeed. This was spoken by one of the Virginian’s characters similar to one in the writings of the English statesman, Edmund Burke.
You never know what connections you can make
It balances you out
Why 12 books? Because at the least, that means we’ve averaged out a book a month. The reality is that life gets busy sometimes, and even trying to read one book a month can be impossible. Somehow, I read 10 books in the first three months of last year, and finished up my last 2 (I actually made to another 2), in the last two months of the year. But this year it has been the opposite, with only 3 books in the start of the year and the rest finishing up as I write this article. Life happens in weird, and unexplainable ways, but 12 books allow me to still learn something new in the chaos.
You become the smartest man in the room
Please do not read more arrogance into this statement. If you are surrounding yourself with the right friends you should be only the 3rd or 4th smartest one in the group. But reading widely and deeply does increase your odds of being the smartest one in a given room when you walk into it, the key is in methodology.
Let other people subtly see your knowledge, don’t flaunt it. The true reason this is an advantage is not superiority to others, but an ability to connect to anyone, because your knowledge base is vast enough to discuss any topic with anyone and walk away learning something new or sharing a helpful idea.
The new year is dawning before us again, and I hope many of you reading chose to make your resolutions to read 12 books this next year. It’s not too high a goal, only 1 book a month on average. Give a portion of your time to the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. The rewards are evident. Readers, while they are not always leaders, have a better chance of making a difference.
These are the 12 best books I’ve read this last year.