Reading is one of the most important activities you can do in your everyday life. It opens your mind. Gives you multiple views on things, so you are not limited to your point of view. Reading teaches you new things. Helps you keep up with what’s going on in the world around you, in your community and beyond. And best of all, it’s fun.
When I was a child, I loved being outside, romping in nature (weather permitting and sometimes not permitting). I wasn’t like those kids with their noses in a book, yet, I so wanted to be like them, observing how people who read a lot had the edge over those that didn’t.
I worked as a waitress from a young age, to save for a college education. Some of it though, I spent on books. I bought a mix of classics and contemporary literature.
My bookshelf in my bedroom groaned with books. None of them read.
You can read more about this in the About. One evening Irving Stone’s book, The Passions of the Mind, somehow found its way into my life. I don’t recall buying it, but there it was, in our living room. Glaring at me.
At first, I examined it from a safe distance. It was stocky and ominous and poked fun at my deepest insecurities.
When it seemed safe to approach, I tip-toed closer, like you would towards a feral cat, and quickly turned the book over and read the description.
In the 1880’s, Vienna was Europe’s glamour capital. It was in that brilliant city that Sigmund Freud began his long struggle to free people everywhere from the blindfolds and chains of their unknown natures.
The Passions of the Mind is the story of an extraordinary man who proved that some of the most exciting challenges aren’t met on the battlefield or on mountain peaks, but inside the hearts and minds of individuals.
The story is told with great attention to accuracy.
Freud was one of Vienna’s most distinguished neurologists. He gave up a life of respectable affluence to become a daring researcher of uncharted seas in an effort to change forever our understanding of human motivations. Includes Glossary and Bibliography.
~ Irving Stone.
I was hooked, unable to put the book down until I’d read every definition in the Glossary. The Passions of the Mind was a breakthrough for me, not only had I successfully read a whole book, all 808 pages of it, but I realized my passion and went on to study Psychology and Literature.
Since that serendipitous weekend, I’ve noticed that books come into my life when I need them most. Provided I stay open and curious. Sometimes a stranger’s book cover piques my interest. Sometimes a magazine review. A recommendation from a friend or overhearing strangers talk. I’ve at times had books leap off the shelf into my hands in a book store and other times I have to go hunting. Importantly, I remain open to receiving the stories that come my way––they are always what I need at that time.
Thankfully, my young daughter is growing up with a love of books. Our family mantra is “Readers are Leaders,” and it’s been her anthem ever since she could talk. I founded #ReadToLead to ignite the love of reading in children and parents and to remind people of the facts and stats about reading so they can take reading seriously.
I come from South Africa, a truly exquisite country, rich with beautiful people, but poor when it comes to quality education, schools, universities and libraries. I have made it my mission to ignite a love of books and self-imposed continuous learning and deepen a culture that reveres reading over television, games and devices.
Every page allows me to live in her thoughts and marvel at how all of us who grew up poor and female are bonded, regardless of where we were raised or who raised us. I not only feel I know this person, but I also recognize more of myself. That’s just one of the great joys of reading. Insight, escape, information, knowledge, inspiration, power. All that and more can come through a good book.
I can’t imagine where I’d be or who I’d be had reading not been such a fundamental tool in my life. I wouldn’t have gotten my first job in radio at age 16 (which led to TV three years later). I was touring the radio station WVOL in Nashville when the DJ asked, “Do you want to hear how your voice sounds on tape?” and handed me a piece of news copy and a microphone. “You oughta hear this girl!” he exclaimed to his boss. There began my broadcasting career. After years of reading everything I could get my hands on, reciting poetry to whoever would listen, someone was going to pay me to do what I loved—read out loud.
Books for me have always been a way to escape. I now consider reading a good book a sacred indulgence, time alone to be anyplace I choose. It is my absolute favorite way to spend time. What I know for sure is that reading opens you up. It exposes you and gives you access to anything your mind can hold. What I love most about reading—It gives you the ability to reach higher ground. A world of possibilities awaits you. Keep turning the page.”
“I loved reading when I was a kid, partly because I was traveling so much, and there were times where I’d be displaced, I’d be the outsider. When I first moved to Indonesia, I’m this big, dark-skinned kid that kind of stood out. And then when I moved back from Indonesia to Hawaii, I had the manners and habits probably of an Indonesian kid.
And so the idea of having these worlds that were portable, that were yours, that you could enter into, was appealing to me. And then I became a teenager and wasn’t reading that much other than what was assigned in school, and playing basketball and chasing girls, and imbibing things that weren’t very healthy.”
We can learn a lot from Warren Buffett and his partner and friend, Charlie Munger. They didn’t get smart because they are both billionaires. They became billionaires, in part, because they are smart. More importantly, they keep getting smarter. Their most important business rule is: Read. A lot.
Warren Buffett says, “I just sit in my office and read all day.” He estimates that he spends 80% of his working day reading and thinking. “Read 500 pages like this every week. That’s how knowledge builds up, like compound interest.” All of us can build our knowledge, but most of us won’t put in the effort.
Buffet’s business partner, Charlie Munger, famous call to everyone, everywhere of all ages is “go to bed smarter than when you woke up.”
“I don’t think any other twosome in business was better at continuous learning than we were,” Buffet said. “And if we hadn’t been continuous learners, the record wouldn’t have been as good. And we were so extreme about it that we both spent the better part of our days reading, so we could learn more, which is not a common pattern in business.”
If you’re picturing them sitting in front of their computers looking at the markets, you’re off the mark. “We don’t read other people’s opinions. We want to get the facts, and then think,” says Buffet.
“Charlie can’t encounter a problem without thinking of an answer,” posits Warren. “He has the best thirty-second mind I’ve ever seen. I’ll call him up, and within thirty seconds, he’ll grasp it. He just sees things immediately.”
Munger sees his knowledge accumulation as an acquired, rather than natural. And credits his knowledge to the reading he does. “Neither Warren nor I are smart enough to make the decisions with no time to think,” Munger once told a reporter. “We make actual decisions very rapidly, but that’s because we’ve spent so much time preparing ourselves by quietly sitting and reading and thinking.”
Television is “poisonous to creativity,” Stephen King says, “writers need to look into themselves and turn toward the life of the imagination. To do so, they should read as much as they can.”
King takes a book with him everywhere he goes, and even reads during meals. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot,” he says. “Read widely, and constantly work to refine and redefine your own work as you do so.”
Bill Gates is an avid reader, powering through almost one book a week. He refuses to stop reading if in the middle of a book – even if he dislikes it – and always scribbles notes on the margins of pages. He actively seeks out answers when he goes into content that he does not understand, which helps in his personal development and reflection.
“You don’t really start getting old until you stop learning. Every book teaches me something new or helps me see things differently. I was lucky to have parents who encouraged me to read. Reading fuels a sense of curiosity about the world.
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