Saturday, July 09, 2005

Curious about Reading: Do You Do It, How Much and What Kind?

As far back as I can remember – and I have lived many years - I have been a voracious reader.

As a matter of fact, when I was working my way through Julia Cameron’s life changing, twelve week program, The Artist’s Way, the one week I had the most trouble following her assignment was when we were not supposed to listen to the radio, watch TV or read anything. TV was no problem, radio was severely missed, but I broke down and read before the week was over.

What brought all of this to mind was when I received Fred Gleeck’s recent e-newsletter yesterday, in which he started with, “Do you ever feel `guilty’ that you aren’t reading enough? I sure do. There is so much out there that I should have read and even more coming out every week that I should be keeping up with.”

Gleeck continued by suggesting alternating between fiction and non fiction and then tells the hilarious story, “Years ago I sat next to Ted Koppel (Nightline) on a flight and asked him his three favorite works of fiction. He looked at me like I had just asked him to take off his pants. Clearly he doesn’t (or didn’t) read much fiction and the question made him uncomfortable.”

I like the idea of alternating between fiction and non fiction. And yes, I do have many new books I haven’t read yet. This is the way I am happily rationalizing a 5 ½ hour flight – each way – that I will be taking this week to Oklahoma City. I should be able to finish at least two books and possibly, three or four.

I don’t consider myself a “speed reader,” yet I can finish fast, using a method I learned from Brian Tracy to use with non fiction. There was a time that I felt guilty if I didn’t read every word, every chapter, or every article in a magazine. Now, I quickly read the description on the back cover to determine if the book will be worth my time. Then, I go to the Table of Contents and mark the chapters and in magazines the articles that I feel will be of interest and will be worthwhile.

I have learned how to skim for the essence, and when I hit a meaningful paragraph and/or phrase, I will highlight it. I have also noticed that my favorite magazines (like Fast Company, for example) distill the information down into numbered and succinct points and descriptions making it a Fast read.

Gleeck also suggested that we try to read something we might not normally pick. “If you are a die hard liberal, pick up a book by a `crazy’ conservative. If you’re a Libertarian like me, read something by a socialist. If your beliefs are solid, they will stand up to questioning.”

My biggest challenge has always been that I love reading so much that I do try to read everything that crosses my path, and so many e-newsletters and e-books can offer additional distractions. Again, I tend to rationalize that all of the successful people I know read constantly and also admonish us to read, read and read some more to get ahead.

Interestingly, Gleeck, who is known as the guru of info product creation, prefers physical books. However, he has written many top-selling e-books, and to build his distribution list actually gives away copies of five of these great and information-laden e-books. You can get them by visiting (note: I don’t get any commission for this – just the satisfaction of introducing you to the work of a man I admire highly and from whom I have learned a huge amount).

And one more reading aid that I must mention before I bring this blog to a close is listening. I suggest getting in the habit of listening to tapes and/or CDs and/or recorded computer interviews and teleseminars. This has been a habit that I developed more than 17 years ago. I can’t begin to even measure how much this habit has changed my life over those years. I feel that I have learned from the best and read the best (even including the classics).

Well, it is time for me to do some reading. Do make a comment! I love reading them.