Why I Read
Easily the most frequently asked question I hear is some variation of “Why do you read so much?” Often, this sounds more like “How do you find time to read so much?” Well, that one’s easy – I’m unemployed. But the why question is much more important, so I’ll explain.
- Reading will teach you how to tell a story well. If you have the opportunity to teach or write, you need to be cultivating your ability to tell good stories. I do this by reading one fiction novel for every two non-fiction books. And yeah, you should use discretion when choosing what to read. But don’t stay so far removed from reality that you lose touch with what captivates people.
- Reading will gain you credibility. It’s hard to gain respect when you can’t spell and your grammar is terrible. It’s a proven fact that the more you read, the better you speak and write. And even if the only thing you write is the occasional email or text message, people can tell the difference. This is especially important for young leaders, who’ve grown up in a generation that doesn’t care. This can be the determining factor that sets you apart. I know too many people who claim “excellence” is a core value of their lives, but can’t spell the word correctly.
- Reading is the ideal replacement for mindless Internet surfing. You are going to fill your time with something, so it might as well benefit you. I will never believe you don’t have time to read when you spend hours on Facebook every night. Like any good habit, reading has to be prioritized. You will always have time for the things you consider most valuable.
- Reading is non-negotiable if you want to be a good leader. Seriously, Harry S. Truman even said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” And he was a president so he should know. No, reading doesn’t instantly qualify you, but it is required. I will stand by that statement. What did Jesus do for the first 30 years of his life? Well, among other things, he studied. Luke 2:40 says “he was filled with wisdom”.
See what I did there? I saved the strongest argument for last. Reading taught me to do that.