Confession: I love books.
For over 30 years, I've read a book a day.
Can you imagine having Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Larry Page, Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos as your mentors?
Can you envision having Mother Teresa, Victor Frankl, and Martin Luther King as your dinner guests? I've done so, many times. All by reading their books.
I owe a huge part of my success to the excellent mentors, my brilliant guides, my wise counselors, the most accessible of teachers who have come to me through books.
Books to me are the gateway to knowledge and wisdom at my fingertips. Even if you read online and in magazines, there's something more to be gained from the sustained experience of reading books. You understand the writer and their thoughts better, and you gain depth that isn't easily possible reading blogs and magazines.
Here's how to make reading books a regular part of your day, and some of the benefits of regular reading:
1. Structure your habit.
As with anything you want to accomplish, you have to spend time and discipline cultivating it into a habit. Every morning before I start my day, I awake an hour or two early and read. People say I'm a fast reader, but at least part of that is the time of day--with no distractions I am able to really focus. Whether it's morning, noon, or nighttime, carve out a time every day when you can read.
2. Contemplate your WHY.
Ask yourself what you hope to get from your reading. For me, it is always to learn something new. Structure your reading habit around your motivation and you'll get more out of it.
3. Broaden your wisdom.
Epictetus described books as "the training weights of the mind." Books not only open your mind to new ideas but also broaden your general wisdom and attention span.
4. Learn valuable lessons.
Whether they're fiction or nonfiction, great books help you understand and feel understood. A great book should have many takeaways that leave you feeling energized and inspired.
5. Do things on repeat.
Rereading can be a valuable practice. I read mostly first-time books now, but when I first started I reread the same 25 books over and over. Sometimes a book you've already read is like an old friend whose guidance you need to return to at a particular point in life.
6. Experience different points of view.
There's no need to be stuck in your own limitations of age, gender, culture, job, or social class. Reading books from a diverse spectrum helps us not just understand but also experience the lives of others.
7. Take a journey.
Books can also open your horizons and take you places where you learn something new. The best adventures are journeys, and books are a great way to travel.
8. Go your own way.
Don't read what everyone else is reading; read what you are interested in. I read books on business and leadership books, but I also branch out into other topics. Follow your own diverse taste instead of the herd.
9. Take delight.
Read at the pace you enjoy, whether it's fast or slow. A book a day works for me, but the way you read should be as individual as what you read. It's a wonderful thing to relish the magic of a book.
10. Highlight for memory.
Take notes or simply highlight on the page (paper or electronic) the passages that you mean something to you. When you go back, check against your former understanding and see if the highlighted sections still speak to you. If a passage is really meaningful, indulge in the old-fashioned pleasure of committing it to memory--there's a reason people used to call memorization learning by heart.
11. Talk about it.
When you read, you'll soon develop a set of reading-derived opinions and insights. Sharing them often makes for interesting conversation--not to mention the fun of connecting someone with a book they'll enjoy.
12. Plug in to the power.
Read the kind of books that change your life--the kind that make you feel better than who you are, that make you think more than you know, that make you feel more than you thought you could feel.
If you think this is something for you I urge you to get started today. Find your own pace and your own books, your own habit, your own why.
Thomas Jefferson once said, "I cannot live without books." I understand what he meant. For me, and for every serious reader, books are not just fundamental but transformative as well.