Quick, what do Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, and Mark Zuckerberg all have in common? Obviously, they’re all highly powerful CEOs of multi-billion dollar companies—but they share another important trait. They’re all avid readers.
Reading can seem like a lost art in our tech-obsessed world. It seems almost impossible to make time for paper and ink when the notifications are always dinging, and the day-to-day demands won’t let up. But successful entrepreneurs will tell you, nearly to a one: reading is a gateway to knowledge, further success, and inspiration. I know I’ve experienced how transformative a good book can be.
How to Read More
One of my 2018 goals was to read more, and so far at three months and nine books in, I’m keeping up with my resolution. I’ve noticed a few things while reading more frequently. My thoughts are clearer and better focused, partially because I’m usually buzzing with ideas and inspiration from my latest read. I appreciate my free time because I’m spending in a way that’s both productive and relaxing—I genuinely enjoy my reading time and never feel it’s a waste. I’ve also spent far less time in front of a screen as a result of reading more.
If you want to make time to increase your reading this year, you’ll need to rearrange a few of your habits. Here’s how I’ve made more time to read this year.
- Break up with your screens: I remember when I was a kid and we didn’t have smartphones (and with that sentence, my transformation into an old lady is complete). I read a lot back then because books filled the space my smartphone now occupies: they were my entertainment, distraction, and enjoyment. One of the ways I’ve read more this year is by consciously putting my smartphone and its bright time-wasting apps away and picking up a book instead. I’ve also cut down on my TV consumption and read in the evenings instead.
- Embrace digital books: Another key to reading more for me this year is to use audiobooks and ebooks. Audiobooks are ideal for a busy person; you can listen during your commute, your morning run, or while performing repetitive tasks. Ebooks are also a great way to read more. With ebooks, your latest read is at the tip of your fingers even while you’re waiting in line at the DMV or on a short lunch break.
- Get a friend involved: Accountability works wonders with all goals, and reading with a friend or a group is more fun, anyway. This year, a friend and I are tackling 12 classic books we've always meant to read. Why not ask a friend to read a book a month with you this year? You’ll have accountability and someone to discuss ideas with.
- Read what you love: There was a time when I forced myself to read books I hated because I thought I should. I don’t do this anymore, mostly because I never actually read those books I hated; I just had them sitting on my nightstand for months before giving up. Read things you enjoy at least a little bit—you’ll get more out of it.
7 Book Ideas for Entrepreneurs
I asked my fellow virtual assistants, Trusty Oak company leadership, and a few friends to recommend business and entrepreneurial books. From classic business and success how-to guides to creative thinking manifestos, this list will get you inspired.
- Become An Idea Machine: Because Ideas Are The Currency of the 21st Century by Claudia Azula Altucher: Altucher outlines an interesting notion: your creativity is a muscle that needs to be worked often. She gives prompts and practical tips for coming up with 10 ideas a day and argues why you should seek out more inspiration.
- Tools of the Titans by Tim Ferriss: Tim Ferriss is a business and productivity icon who has interviewed hundreds of high-achieving individuals. He breaks down what makes successful people tick in this ambitious book.
- Crushing Mediocrity: 10 Ways to Rise Above the Status Quo by Lisa Copeland and Rene Banglesdorf: Copeland and Banglesdorf outline the ways you can take control of your future and rise above the pack professionally in this engaging and practical book.
- Manage Your Day-to-Day by Jocelyn K. Glei: The theme of this book is: stop doing busywork and start focusing on your best work. The overwhelmed business owner will benefit from her practical, no-nonsense approach to getting on with what really matters.
- Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell: Gladwell’s groundbreaking work has already helped us redefine how we think about the world. In Blink, Gladwell examines how our brains work and asks why some people are brilliant split-second decisions makers.
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert: Gilbert is a best-selling author whose latest book will challenge you to follow your curiosity. Many of the ideas will turn popular business concepts on their head, meaning it’s the perfect book to stretch you and help you identify your true passions.
- Meditations by Marcus Aurelius: Meditations is the personal philosophical musings of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who ruled from 161 to 180 AD. Many entrepreneurs and business experts recommend this book for its exploration of Stoicism and its potential to spark personal growth.
I can't promise reading will turn you into the next Bill Gates or Arianna Huffington, but I can tell you this: time spent reading is never wasted.