“A person who does not read is not better than one who cannot read.”

–Earl Nightingale

Last week I wrote you about the value of studying whatever field you are in to learn what you can to help you get to where you are going. I encouraged you to scour the internet, go to the library, read, and take in as much information as you could to assist you in understanding.

This week I want to broaden our focus to the value of reading. I am a curious person. I like finding out about things. Reading helps me to do so quickly. And I read a lot.

I subscribe to two newspapers. Paper newspapers: The New York Times and The Tyler Morning Telegraph are delivered to my home. I additionally subscribe to two newspapers online: The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. You may have noticed that three of the four papers have a far-Left slant. Hey, as the Apostle Paul wrote in the Bible, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Or maybe it was Sun Zhu in The Art of War.

Regardless, I like discovering what people who disagree with me think and identify why they do.

I read and listen to the Bible every day. I read from biblical commentaries each week to assist me in my study.

I read magazines, one journal regularly-First Things-and various academic journals depending on what I am researching.

I always have a few books I am reading at any given moment. Most are non-fiction: biography, business, history, and sports. Some make me think; others, frankly, help me escape.

There are fringe benefits to physically reading a book or other documents. Reading

  • stimulates your brain
  • adds to your knowledge and vocabulary
  • strengthens your analytical thinking.

Successful people read. Warren Buffett reportedly reads five to six hours a day. Bill Gates reads a least one book a week. Billionaire and Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban has consistently read three hours a day to learn more about the industry he is in. Elon Musk reportedly read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica series by the age of nine. Harry Truman had read every book in his hometown public library by the time he graduated from high school. Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill: all big readers.

I listen to many audiobooks during any given week on my smartphone. My attention span is short. (While I have never been diagnosed with ADD, I have never

Where was I?

Oh, usually, I will listen only a few minutes at a time and then switch to another. I will listen to many of these for free from various libraries such as the city of Houston and the cloud library through the Tyler Public Library. I have purchased a few through Amazon Audible and Apple. Most of the audiobooks I own I have purchased through ChirpChirp is a service that offers you audiobooks at standard pricing while notifying you about bargain sales where you can buy unabridged audiobooks for as low as $2.99.

Here are the books I am currently listening to:

How Ike Led by Susan Eisenhower

Heart and Steel by Bill Cowher

Edison by Edmund Morris

James Patterson by James Patterson

Forever Young by Hayley Mills

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

James Madison by Ralph Ketchum

The Admirals by Walter Borneman

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

Girl Sleuth by Melanie Rehak

Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey

Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King

The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison

The Odyssey by Homer

Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday

Surprised by Hope by N. T. Wright

Great Lives: Jesus by Charles Swindoll

Johnny Cash by Robert Hilburn

Best Seat in the House by Jack Nicklaus II

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle

The Bad Guys Won by Jeff Pearlman

Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant by U. S. Grant

Shakespeare by Bill Bryson

Audiobooks are where I will read from the book genre I don’t like: The Classics. There is no way I am going to sit down and read Aristotle unless someone points a gun at my head. But I will listen a little at a time and underline what I hear that is important to remember in my physical book. Aristotle continues to influence our world, and I want to find out why, but I can only digest him in small portions.

That is the way great literature is for me. I once asked my dad what it was like fighting in the Korean War. He told me, “I wouldn’t do it again if someone paid me a million dollars. But I wouldn’t take a million dollars for the experience, either.” That is precisely how I felt after I read Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina by audiobook while driving across the highways of West Texas.

A final category of information gathering is podcasts. I listen to mostly business, entertainment, and sports. I listen to The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro and Morning Wire podcasts every day, which is my counter-balance to the Left’s take on current events.

Two quick points about audio. One, I never just sit and listen. I always do something else while listening: shaving, brushing my teeth, driving, walking…

Two, I have infinite patience. I don’t care how long it takes me to finish Les Miserables. I am not reading it for pleasure.

Three, I read the “cliff notes” with the classics to better understand them.

Four, I often buy the hard copies of audiobooks that I get a lot out of–and I underline the essential points in them.

Five, I consider listening to an audiobook the same as reading that book.

All that I have talked about can be achieved on your smartphone. You can travel with a library filled with 100s of books, newspaper and magazine subscriptions at your beck and call, audiobooks galore, and podcasts. You can transport all of these on an electronic device only six inches long.

I began this writing with a quote from the great Earl Nightingale. Let me end with his challenge to all of us:

One hour per day of study in your chosen field is all it takes. One hour per day of study will put you at the top of your field within three years. Within five years you’ll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best people in the world at what you do.

Photo by Ishaq Robin on Unsplash