My Life System #14: Reading

I buy a lot of books. I think of myself as a book collector. I cannot and do not read every book I buy. I like to have them around knowing that some day the wisdom in that book will be useful and transformational. Books have served me well through the years: which other product gives you a person’s lifetime of knowledge for a few hundred rupees? It is we who have to make an investment many times greater – with our time – to absorb and learn. And in today’s world of instant-everything and tweet-sized content, a book is a true joy to behold. Ploughing through the daily social media feeds may seem exciting but most are empty – like junk food. They can provide that instant gratification but they do not provide the depth needed to enhance our learning. That is something only good books do.

Over time, my reading has broadened from just the tech, business and management books to reading about economics, history, political science and philosophy. These books require the creation of contiguous time where one is not distracted with the urge of checking messages on our devices. At times, they require re-reading to better understand the concepts being explained.

While I don’t mind reading fiction on digital devices (mostly the Books app on my iPad), for serious reading I like to hold the physical book in my hand. There is something about reading the printed word on paper and turning the pages which lends an element of seriousness to the exercise. That is why I like to buy books, even with the knowledge that I am unlikely to read them right away. At home or in the office, every once in a while, when I am struggling with a problem, I find that immersion in a book – any book – helps me find pathways to solutions.

The “Thinks” section of my blog has also ensured that I keep a steady base of reading – not just books, but also good writing in the form of essays and columns. The daily reading of news and views does not replace the book – both have their own place. Together, they help shape our mental models which then help us make better decisions. The discipline of posting 3 links daily in the Thinks series ensures that reading becomes embedded in daily life.

Not all my reading is serious stuff. I like thrillers. A good story transports you to a different world – it is the equivalent of dreaming with eyes open. Some authors that I like include Daniel Silva (Gabriel Allon series), Michael Connelly (Bosch and others), Anthony Horowitz, Scott Turow and John Grisham (legal), David Baldacci, Joel Rosenberg, David Ignatius, Brad Thor, Jeffrey Deaver (Lincoln Rhyme), Ken Follett, and Ruth Ware (Agatha Christie type thrillers).

So, the best thing one can do is to set aside some time in the day to read. Be it the serious books or the fast-paced thrillers, some diversion in the form of being transported to the ideas and stories as envisioned by the authors is a wonderful addition to daily life.

PS: My previous post on a book club I was once part of.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.