Image courtesy of Moriza
Since you’re reading Pick the Brain, it’s a safe bet that you’ve got some level of interest in self-improvement, personal development, or simply getting a bit more from life. Whatever your goals, you’re hoping that you’ll find some advice that will help you reach them. You might well read a number of other popular blogs on similar topics, such as Dumb Little Man or Zen Habits.
Yet, although you’re getting some good advice and putting some tips into practice, you might feel like you need a bit more. You’re skimming blogs on coffee breaks at work, or in between childcare duties at home. And with bite-sized posts of 600 words or so, bloggers are only covering individual topics in discreet sections.
If you want to take yourself to a new level, you need to read books as well as blogs.
Why Should I Read Books?
Don’t get me wrong, blogs are great, and you can get true and deep insights from individual blog posts. They’re also easy to fit into your day, and there tends to be a focus on practical, easy-to-implement advice. But books can complement blogs powerfully:
Books Give You Greater Depth
It’s an obvious point, but a three hundred page book allows an author to fully explore a particular theme or theory: a three hundred word blog post doesn’t allow for much depth. Books can help you to make a paradigm shift or step up a level in your thinking.
When You Read Books, You Focus More
Are you skimming this? Look how I’ve put in subheaders to help you follow the argument. If this was a book, the paragraphs would be longer and you might have pages and pages without a subheading. When we read on paper, we tend to be much more focused than when reading online: no stopping to answer emails or see what’s being said on Twitter.
You’ve Paid For The Book
We often value things we’ve paid for over things that are free. Whilst I’m fully in favour of the amount of free content available online, I do find that I’m more likely to commit myself to in-depth reading when I’ve paid for a book.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you of the “why” – now you just need to find time to do some reading…
Finding Time To Read Books
With most of us spending a lot of the day in front of a computer screen, blogs slip easily into little gaps of time, with content designed to be read in just a few minutes. Books are trickier – do you buy books and leave them unread on a shelf for months, even years? Do you make resolutions to read every day, but end up falling into bed each evening without having cracked the spine of your book?
I find that the best way to “make time” is simply to get into a book: once I’m hooked, the extra time seems to materialize from nowhere! Having said that, you might find it easier if you can establish a routine of reading at a particular time of day:
First Thing In The Morning
Reading something motivational can be a great start to your day. The beginning of the day is a great time to work on any big goal: it means that your reading won’t be squeezed out by other demands on your time.
In Your Lunch Hour
If you tend to work through lunch – or if you end up watching YouTube clips and looking at LOLcats – try reading a book instead. It gives your eyes a break from the glowing screen. Find a park bench (which means you’re actually outside!) and steal half an hour away from fluorescent lights and glowing computer screens to really immerse yourself in a different world. Just this switch in environment will allow more absorption and enjoyment of the material.
End Of The Working Day
If you’re a freelancer, or if you have a lot of control over your own hours, you might find that reading a few pages of your book is a good way to close the working day. This can also help you to “switch off” from work mode.
What Should I Read?
So you’ve got the time and the desire to read some useful, insightful books … now you just need to find the reading matter.
I’ve got a few favorites, but I won’t recommend them here: your needs might well differ from mine. This is how I found the books that I now love…
Read Book Reviews
Most popular books are heavily reviewed on Amazon.com. Don’t focus too much on the star rating – instead, read some of the reviews. You can often get a feel for which reviewers have similar objectives to yours. Sometimes, one or two star reviews don’t mean a book is bad – they just mean that a reader thought it would be a different sort of book!
Don’t just rely on Amazon though: I’ve found it very useful to read book reviews by bloggers who I admire. You might want to check out these lists of reviews:
If you find that everyone seems to be recommending one book, it’s probably worth checking it out!
• Steve Pavlina’s list of Personal Development Books (very short description of each book)
• Tim Brownson’s Inspirational Books By Inspirational Authors (short reviews of each book)
• Trent Hamm’s Twenty Big Ideas: Detailed Summaries and Reviews of Great Personal Finance and Development Books (does what it says in the title!)
Do you have any favorite self-improvement, personal development or similar books? Do you struggle to make time for reading books? Let us know about your tips, experiences and challenges in the comments…