Before I begin — the question in the title of this blog isn’t meant to be rhetorical. I hope you’ll comment and let us know what you’re reading right now, no matter what kind of book it is. This is a great place to share titles. Tell us what you love about what you’re reading, too.
Some thoughts about reading…
I use the public library to borrow foreign films, stuff you can’t get on streaming services. I don’t borrow books, though. I buy them. Our city’s library has a book sale every other month. I buy novels that look interesting for $1 or even fifty cents. Take three or four of them… or five or six… and make a stack by my bed. That way I don’t have to worry about returning them. If I like them, I keep them, though there are not too many novels I read more than once. If I don’t like them much, I take them to the used book store, where they give me credit (not much, but it adds up.) I shop there, too. Those books go on the same pile.
Whether you are a coach or an entrepreneur of another stripe, it’s important to know that one of the key components of expanding your ability to be empathetic is in reading fiction*. I know that people who are haunting a site like exotericliving.com are change junkies, personality junkies, leadership junkies, and it’s likely that you’re hooked on non-fiction books. Maybe you haven’t read a novel in a while. Here’s a challenge: Read one more novel in 2018 than you did in 2017.
I buy nonfiction books too — sometimes books I have to have for a continuing education class, and more often because I have a group of friends, most of whom are either writers, musicians or painters, who discuss books on a Slack channel, and if I don’t read them I lose something in that interaction. Right now, Ray Dalio’s “Principles” is hot in that group. I haven’t read it yet.
Instead, I’m reading something I found at the local library sale. The title is “The Last Faberge”. It’s an art-heist mystery written by Thomas Swan. I was pleasantly surprised to find it an excellent read. I have less time now for junk fiction. Steven King, in his book “On Writing”, notes that once he became conscious of the fact that he could write better than the particular book he was reading, he stopped reading that book. He encourages children to read whatever… comics are fine. Just get those kids reading. But for writers, he suggests reading things that push them. Tougher vocabularies. More intricate plots. So now, if I get stuff at the library that isn’t very good, sometimes I don’t finish it. It’s okay not to finish a book. Through my network I met an author in Indianapolis a few months ago. Had coffee with him. He’s had many books published. I picked one up when I got home (one of the few times I borrowed a book from the library) and found that he was a good writer, but it wasn’t my thing. That’s okay. You may not be the target audience for a particular book, but I say, “like peace, give books a chance”.
In return, books will give you a chance. A chance to broaden your worldview. A chance to find new definitions for “living well” or “Success” or “contentment and joy.”
Books can be your best friend. As Groucho Marx once said, “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read.”
My wife and I like to read aloud to each other. We don’t do it every day, but it’s fun to read aloud, you get to do silly voices, laugh together. Our current book is “The Miracle at Speedy Motors” by Alexander McCall Smith, from the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series.
I am reading some nonfiction right now, too. As a life coach that’s unavoidable. In the religion category, I’m reading “Christian. Muslim. Friend” by David W. Shenk. This book was a Christianity Today book of the year in 2016. And as I mentioned, I’ll have to get Dalio’s “Principles” soon.
It’s okay if you prefer non-fiction. But I do encourage everyone to read a novel once in a while. There’s a reason for that, based on scientific studies, too.
*If you’d like more detail about WHY it’s important to read fiction to expand your capacity for empathy, I recommend either picking up my book “How to Make a Positive Cultural Impact” on Amazon, ($2.99, it’s short) or, if you want to go into more depth, purchase the course with the same title, here on ExotericLiving.com (it’s easy to find in my profile, or click “Courses” > “Personal Development” and you’ll find it.) It’s a great course that will give you bits on how to maximize energy, increase focus, develop empathy (reading) and increase your creative thinking.
Okay, it’s your turn. What are you reading?