Here’s My Secret Weapon: I Read
Daily Blog #122
There’s only one thing, one constant thing that I believe keeps me moving closer to my goals, and keeps me fixed on what I want to do. It’s got nothing to do with being close to the universe or attracting things to me with positive energy.
My secret weapon is that I read.
Running a business, being a writer, living a full life – these things depend on the knowledge that we can gain and use. What we call following our gut, is really us being subconsciously guided by every piece of information we’ve ever consumed, shaping our instincts and ideas and forming us.
I read constantly, throughout every single day. I read obsessively, consuming new books and revisiting old at an alarming rate. I read because I want tosee the world through new sets of eyes. My bookshelves strain under the weight of comics, graphic novels, the complete works of Shakespeare, the Harry Potter series, books about Steve Jobs and Wall Street and Walmart and business and histories of the Holocaust.
I read books on my iPhone when I’m on the treadmill at the gym, every morning. When I first started working out, every minute felt like an eternity, watching TV shows or listening to music or podcasts never helped me get through a session. But a book, that’s something else. I can lose myself in a book and suddenly find that 45 minutes have slipped away while I run and read.
I read books about business, and startups, and entrepreneurship – becausethere’s always something new to learn, something that could shift my point of view or expose me to a different way of thinking. And because when I want to quit, the paths and advice of those who’ve gone before me act as a guide.
But there’s more. I read books about dragons and wizards and ancient spells, and I read books where there are worlds full of fantastic creatures and heroes, and I read books where there are sacrifices and victories and where good people mourn their lovers.
I read books about musketeers, and lamp posts in the woods, and the dangerous business of going out your front door. I read books about boarding schools and battlefields and a bridge to Terabithia.
I read about economic theory, and struggle through it despite how fucking heavy it gets, and I read books about the birth of the internet and the dot com crash and the lives of the Marx brothers.
I read new books, to find new characters and ideas, and old books becausethere’s always a detail I missed or a theme that I’ve forgotten, no matter how many times I’ve gone over them.
I read, because there’s so much more to the world than my corner of it. If I never tried to find it, I’d be limiting myself.
Through my bookshelf, my Kindle and my browser, I can access the entire store of human knowledge, insight and imagination at any hour of the day, and I think sometimes I’d be mad not to take advantage of that.
I know that if I let go of that, if I stop reading and searching for new thoughts, or better old ones, my work is going to suffer. I think a good part of what informs my voice, and guides my decisions both as a writer and an entrepreneur is gained from reading a wide range of different things, all the time. It challenges my ideas and it makes me re-evaluate them constantly.
So here’s my advice. If you want to accomplish anything of value, challenge yourself to read. And I don’t mean just read my blog posts – if you have the choice between reading something by me and reading a good book like Life After God, by Douglas Coupland, go for the book.
If you don’t read, you won’t gain the information and the insight and theinspiration that you need to make the right calls, at the right time. You won’t learn to see beyond the shit that you have to deal with, every day.
I think people want to believe that there’s a secret, to what I do. When they ask me for advice, it’s as if they think I’ve hidden away a key, that can unlock writing and business and make everything happen the way I want it. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. I believe that my habit of reading is what’s made the difference in my life, and I think it’s incrediblyimportant.
Make reading a good book a part of what you do. If you’re the busiest person on earth, just give yourself 15 minutes a day.
Bonus. Here’s 57 of my favorite books of all time, in no particular order.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Hard Thing about Hard Things
The $100 Startup (Thanks Chris Guillebeau)
Life After God
The Man in the Iron Mask
The Lean Startup
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Dragons of Autumn Twilight
The Prisoner of Azkaban
The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth (Chris Brogan what up)
Losing the Signal
Where Wizards Stay Up Late
Masters of Doom
The Little Princess
Throne of Glass
The Wind in the Willows
The Fellowship of the Ring
Without Their Permission
The Moon’s a Balloon
Pride and Prejudice
Becoming Steve Jobs
My Boring-ass Life
The Call of Cthulhu
A Republican Radical in Search of Hot Water
Be Here Now
The Color of Magic
If you enjoyed reading this, you can always buy me a coffee ☺️☕️
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