An incredible amount of research shows the benefits of reading books.
Not articles. Not magazines. Not social media.
Some of the most successful people in history have been voracious readers. Some read the same books. Some read unique books. The key factor is that they read books. The kind that seems to interest them. The kind that seem to expand their knowledge base and understanding of the world.
If you’re looking to read more, but aren’t sure what books are best, here are a few tips…
1. Assess Your Book Reading History
If you’re unsure what books you’re going to like or get fulfillment from, take some time to think back about books you’ve read cover to cover. You might have to go all the way back to your childhood.
I know that when I was a kid I loved reading sports-themed books by Matt Christopher. If I was starting from scratch today I might pick up one or two and read them. They might not fit what I’m interested in today, but it could lead to an insight that I like sports. So maybe I need to read modern sports themed books or sport biographies.
You might learn that you like mystery. You might learn that you like…whatever. It doesn’t even have to entirely be the same type of book that you read in the past, but something with similar themes or styles.
2. Assess Your Mentor Reading Habits
We all model ourselves after others. Our parents. Other family members that are usually older than us. Then we look to close friends, colleagues and others. Even those that we don’t know personally, but those we admire from afar.
Odds are good that your mentors read books. If you know them, ask what they like reading. If you don’t know them, do a little googling to see what books they have mentioned in interviews or in their biographies.
If you’ve been modeling yourself after someone, odds are pretty good that you share similar tastes in reading. Maybe not the exact same books, but the same style books.
When I was a teenager in the late ’90s and early ’00s, my dad would usually be reading something by Tom Clancy or John Grisham. One day when he was done reading one of those books I asked if I could read it. He said absolutely. Then that became a routine for a few years. He would read a book and then pass it on to me.
3. Try Biographies
We model ourselves after others. Kids start doing it from a very young age. It’s ingrained in our DNA.
So there is a pretty good bet that you’ll get something from biographies. I don’t really know why, but for some reason I enjoy reading rock star biographies. I’ve been able to pull all kinds of insight out of these books. From business to live to all kinds of things not to do.
Biographies are probably my favorite type of book. I like them because you never really know what is coming next. They also follow a basic timeline that usually follows the life of the subject. It’s basic storytelling. Usually there aren’t any lessons like you’d find in a how-to book. It’s just the story of someone’s life.
Start with biographies. Try an area where you’re interested, such as music or art or whatever.
4. See What The Fuss Is About
Try bestsellers. All those people can’t be entirely wrong…
Bon Jovi has taken some criticism over the years. One year they released a box set called, 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong. The quip was pretty much saying that people kept coming to their shows so they must be doing something right.
I like that approach.
If you’re not sure what to read, just pick something off a bestseller list. People talk with their actions…and their money. See what people are buying. Generally, if a lot of people like something there is some value to be had.
It’s at least a starting point to figure out what you like.
There really isn’t any shortcut to figuring yourself out. That includes the books you’re going to like. You can’t go from reading very few books to reading exactly the right books all the time. There is a learning curve. You’ll have to test a few, or several, out before you really know what you want.
Get a library card. Get a subscription to an e-book service. Start reading books. If you don’t like it after a chapter or two, don’t feel bad about skipping it and moving on to the next one.
You’re looking for books that entertain, educate and enlighten. You’re looking for fulfillment. You’re looking to feel something while you’re reading the book. You’re looking for motivation. You’re looking for a way to better yourself.
That can obviously feel like a lot to expect from a book. It’s a paradox, though. The pressure is there, but really it isn’t that much work to find that type of fulfillment.
The key is committing to reading books for the long-term and then getting started.