Growing up, I wasn’t one of the kids carrying a book around with me at school. Or one that enjoyed actually reading the books assigned in class. Or really reading that much at all. I simply didn’t understand the importance of reading.
Even worse, I thought reading was something nerds or people with no friends did. Yeah, young Andy was pretty dumb.
Quick side note: It’s kind of crazy that as you get older, you start realizing so many things that you were wrong about. Or that you never even thought about, but you’re thinking about now. Turns out, one of those things for me is reading.
As I was going through MBA school, reading about all these great leaders and CEO’s, I started realizing one shared trait. They all read A LOT.
Take, for example, Warren Buffet. I would say that Warren Buffet has been fairly successful.
How does Warren Buffet spend his work days? He estimates that 80% of his work days are spent reading. And he refers to reading as building up “compound interest”. What an incredible way to describe it.
Sure, it might be easier to spend 80% of your work day reading if you have $72.6B. But for us regular folks, do you have time to read 30 minutes a day? An hour a day? I would suspect so.
Finding time to read is half the battle. I actually read every night before I go to sleep. I find it relaxes me. Also, it takes me a while to fall asleep, so reading acts as my NyQuil.
The Importance of Reading
Reading has many benefits. And to be honest, I could write about this for days. In the interest of my time and yours, I’m going to list just some of the benefits:
1. It Might Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that older people who read regularly are 2.5 times less likely to have Alzheimer’s. The study isn’t saying that reading will in fact prevent Alzheimer’s, but it does seem to show it can help.
2. It Makes You Smarter
Anne E. Cunningham and Keith E. Stanovich found that reading helps you retain information. Also, it can improve your vocabulary at the same time.
3. It Can Reduce Stress
A 2009 study by the University of Sussex found that reading for just six minutes can reduce stress levels by up to 68%. It’s an escape from your busy, anxious life.
When I’m stressed, I read whatever I can. A book, a magazine, a blog post I’ve been meaning to get to. It does help.
4. It Can Improve Your Memory
Similarly to #1, reading allows you to “exercise” the parts of the brain that get less action as you grow older. Two of these areas are the pre-frontal lobe and the hippocampus.
5. It Can Make You a Better Writer
According to a study by Karen Daniel from the University of California, Riverside, a high reading ability can be predictive of a high writing ability. Which means, the more you read, the better you’ll write.
For those that blog, like myself, reading is crucial to improving our writing ability.
Because you’re awesome, I put together a small list of my favorite books from the past six months and also what I have left to read.
Here are the top 5 favorite books I’ve read over the last six months:
- Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
- Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
- David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
My current reading list includes:
- The Four-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
- Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
- The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
- 10% Happier by Dan Harris
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- Inferno: World at War by Max Hastings
- Lean Analytics by Alistair Croll and Ben Yoskovitz
- Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky
- The Innovators by Walter Isaacson
- Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (I really like his books)
What are your thoughts on reading? What are your favorite books over the past six months? Let me know in the comments!