I have recently developed a voracity for reading and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down, which is doing wonders for my writing. For me, reading is leading to more writing, which is leading to more reading, which is leading to more writing. It is a positive feedback loop that is enhancing my writing and has provided more personal growth than I’ve seen in years.
We have access to a ton of literature
I use a few different platforms to make sure I’m getting my necessary dose of words each day. My mornings usually start with some Medium articles. The community that has been developed by this platform is fantastic. It’s easy to find topics related to articles you’ve been reading but it is also a great place to find new, unique topics you normally wouldn’t organically find anywhere else. Writers from all backgrounds allow readers to find a wide variety of skills and topics to learn from. Enveloping ourselves in these different backgrounds helps add a broader pool of topics to use in our own writings.
Another platform I use daily is called Overdrive. My brother introduced me to it and it has changed the way I read books. Overdrive is a free app that connects to most local libraries and provides rental ebooks, audiobooks, and videos; all you need is a library card. Overdrive has introduced me to some of my favorite books and has a fantastic collection of classic authors. The classic authors are classic for a reason. Any writer should view them as an invaluable source of knowledge.
I find myself listening to the audiobooks more times than not. Before I found Overdrive, I would listen to my music playlist as I biked to work, but now I simply pop on whatever book I’ve been listening to. “Reading” while I bike is very relaxing and I’m more productive with my day. Between work and my personal relationships keeping me occupied, biking and listening to books has become my meditative personal time. It fuels many of the thoughts and questions I eventually turn into writings.
What Should I read?
There are thousands of books you could read; it’s easy to get lost in the magnitude of it all. So, how do I decide what I’d like to read? I like to alternate between educational books and fictional books. The idea is to get some balance in the material I’m taking in. That being said, I do find myself listening to some of the “educational” books as my fun books. Find what works for you but be mindful of the words you take in as well as the words you put out.
I started realizing the books I enjoyed would reference other, similar books throughout. What I began doing is noting the books referenced or authors quoted in the books I enjoyed. Then, I either found their best works or similar authors and books related to them. This simple strategy has led me to so many good books I would have never come across.
Ryan Holiday writes about finding books you want to read in his article, “Crowdsource Your Reading List From People You Admire”. He points out that if you use the books suggested by people you admire, you will find more books you can connect with. It makes perfect sense but it took me a while to realize. This has also made finishing books I actually enjoy much easier.
Another great option is to use Overdrive’s “similar titles” section. When I find a book I found value in, I can browse similar titles and usually find another I’ll like or at least be able to get some quality out of. Take note of the different techniques in the literature you like and uniquely utilize them in your own.
Does it pass the test of time?
You can’t go wrong with literature that has prevailed through time. There are books that are centuries old that are still relevant to our lives today. Read those words. There have been so many books that have been written and forgotten throughout time. If you find one that has survived the test of time, it’s very likely it will be worth your time. These time-tested writings can also help you find a voice that will hopefully do the same.
Why Should I Read
I’ve found the more I read, the better my writing seems to get but everyone can get something from reading a little more. My writing improvements are definitely from writing more often, which definitely comes easier since reading more. The process has built my confidence as I start to find a certain voice in my writings.
Reading has a multitude of benefits, including keeping us off of social media and expanding our ideas about what we want out of life. Charles Chu talks about some of the benefits of greatly expanding his reading per year in his article, “The Simple Truth Behind Reading 200 Books a Year”
He breaks down how to achieve the goal as well as the benefits discovered by adding more books to your life.
You don’t have to finish every book you start
Not every book I start reading gets finished but this wasn’t the case in the past. I would find myself struggling to finish books I obviously didn’t want to finish, because I didn’t want to quit something I had started. Stop it and find something you actually enjoy. This ideology can be applied to anything in life. When I actually enjoy what I’m participating in, I find myself more fully engaged.
Keep this in mind as you find yourself struggling to finish writing through a topic. Sometimes, seemingly great ideas end up not being what you want them to be. You don’t have to completely scrap them, but it may be a good idea to leave them alone for a little while and work on something that excites you.
Get Started and See What Happens
This year, I have been able to read one to two books a week thanks to Overdrive. This easily beats the total amount of books I had read in my entire life before now. I find myself needing to rent multiple books at a time now so I don’t run the possibility of running out of something to “read”. My mind asks more questions, I am more creative, I analyze the world around me with a different lens, I find myself actively living instead of going through the motions. Reading is a skill that needs to be nurtured for any writer who wants to progress. The people who have taken the time to share their stories, their thoughts, and parts of themselves deserve our attention and we deserve to open ourselves up to their works to better our own writing.
If you haven’t read anything good in a while, find a book and see where it takes your writing.
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Here are 20 books I’ve read this year that have brought me joy or opened my eyes to new things.
- The Fellowship of the Ring- J.R. Tolkein
- The 4 Hour Work Week- Tim Ferris
- What if it Does Work?- Susie Moore
- Option B- Sheryl Sandberg
- Mans Search for Meaning-Viktor E. Frankl
- The Tao of Pooh- Benjamin Hoff
- Happiness-Thick Nhat Hanh
- How To Be Free-Epictetus
- The Book of Five Rings- Miyamoto Musashi
- How Google Works- Eric Schmidt
- The World According To fred Rodgers- Fred Rodgers
- Sleeping Beauties- Steven and Owen King
- Walden- Henry David Thoreau
- Origin- Dan Brown
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings- Maya Angelou
- Essentialism- Greg McKeown
- Get your Sh*t Together- Sarah Knight
- Wild- Cheryl Strayed
- Talk Like TED- Carmine Gailo
- Drop the Ball- Tiffany Dufu
A version of this post was previously published on GoFindYourHappy and is republished here with permission from the author.
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