Wednesday 24 March 2010

Have You Got Anything Better To Do?

"There's no problem you can have that someone hasn't already solved, and wrote about it in a book."
-Will Smith.

I was having this discussion with a friend yesterday about reading on the train. She reads a lot of personal development/self-help books. She gets a lot from it but, at the same time, almost feels a bit silly for reading them, especially when she's on the train. There's a bit of a stigma to it, when you're reading a book on a train called something like "How To Change Your Life And Heal Your Soul". That stigma is that book is wishy washy nonsense, you're weak for needing to read that stuff. Furthermore - when you recommend a book to someone, especially regarding personal growth, success, how-to-books, etc-- the general response, from most people, is no thanks, or I've too busy to read it.

Regarding the stigma on the train -- WHO CARES? We all die anyway. When you die, aged 87, will it matter that at 29 years old you were reading a self-help book on a train? No. The book may be nonsense, of course; but you'll only know that for sure after you read it. What's the big deal? The most exciting, fun, and creative people I know like to read. They like to stretch themselves. I'm really lucky in that I have a few close friends who I am always sharing books and websites with -- that's how I am now, much more than I used to be--- I love to get stuck in and read and learn.

I'm not sure if it's just an English thing, or if it's prevalent everywhere; but I find most people like to think they know everything they need to know. I read a lot of books on creativity, psychology, health, history, etc. These things; for me - carry information, ideas and stories that can, will and do MAKE LIFE BETTER. Even if they're crazy theories I don't believe in-- wow, how great; how great that I read that idea, mulled it over, and came out the other side with my views more strongly in tact.

It boggles my mind how so many people can be SO UNHAPPY, yet still refuse to indulge in new ideas. And they keep trying to change things and fix things from the same perspective as before. Within the limitations of their belief systems.

"The book you don't read can't help." -
Jim Rohn

"I've been too busy to read it." - NO YOU HAVEN'T. If you've been on Facebook, or on a train journey, or sat on the toilet seat, or spent twenty minutes moaning about something-- you've had the time and opportunity to instead indulge in something that will drastically improve your life--- reading.

I really feel that if you are unhappy with your happiness, creativity, finances, family life, health, tiredness, literally anything... there is something you can be reading that will help change your life. Tiredness is the worst excuse because what causes tiredness and world-weariness is the lack of opportunities, personal hardships, lost dreams, hard days at work, depression - and these things are caused by us not fulfilling everything we want to fulfill in life. So we gotta work towards them!

I could sit on Facebook all night poking girls and talking to my friend Jeff about how pissed off I am at Bryan for not coming to that party last week, or I can read about European History for a project I'm considering doing. I can watch that soap on TV where everyone is cheating on each other, or I can read that book about screenwriting. I can sit in my room wanting to scream because I have no money, or I can read a book about success and wealth. I might find 90% of the book stupid, I might find that I know most of the things--- but there might be that one little piece of gold; that one perspective that someone somewhere else in the world once wrote - and it's the one thing that will turn my world around.

Have you got anything better to do with your spare time? In the past six months or so - I have developed a real passion and interest in things that I never expected. And interestingly; they're opening up new and exciting opportunities for me. Almost by magic, my work opportunities have come more in line with the things I've been reading.

"Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune."
-Jim Rohn

Right now, I'm reading Anne Frank's Diary. It's great to read it again - such an incredible book. Really takes you to the heart of wartime in Europe in a way precious few other things do. It's amazing how much you can learn from that young girl; from her predicament, her views on the world, the legacy she's left behind. Charlie Chaplin's autobiography has been far more beneficial to me than all the times I've played on my PSP, more relaxing too! I've also been reading pretty much every Arnold Mindell book I can get my hands on. Life-altering stuff. Next week I'm going away- and am taking a big book about European History with me - it's my new fascination.. learning about the richness and diversity of Europe, especially in the last hundred years, within the context of it's many struggles against Nazism, Communism, etc. I won't even begin to pretend I know a lot about these things-- but I'm getting there. And it's important. Important because, when I meet a German person, or a Spanish person, or an Irish person or a Serbian person-- it's great to know more about who they are, where they've come from and what they've been through.

"How many books have you read in the last 90 days? Zero? Wisdom of the world available, change your life, change your future, develop any skill you want, earn the kind of income you want, have all the treasures you want, equities you want, relationships with your family that you want, everything that you want available, and the wisdom of the world to help you get it; haven't read any books in the last ninety days? You have MESSED UP!"
-Jim Rohn

What are you reading? Why is it important to you?

Care to share?


  1. In answer to Jim Rohn's question- I've finished 22 books in the last 90 days. I know this because sadly, I keep a list. I started a tradition on Christmas Eve 08 that I'd read 80 books a year as per Stephen King's recommendation.

    Great post, Kid. I think everyone should have the time to read- it's one of the most enriching, wonderful activities we have available to us. Saying that makes me sound like a bit of a wanker, but I think it's true. I read biographies, screenwriting books and folklore but mainly I love fantasy. It would be easy for me to dismiss that- it's what most people do when I tell them- but it is important to me. I like the escape, the possibility of magic, that most are written so cinematically. I always invest so much in the characters- possibly because their battles are far greater and more important than mine will ever be. On a technical side, they also have a lot to offer about world building and crafting a plot. Or maybe I'm just saying that so I can justify reading the genre for years and years to come.

  2. I probably read about 40 (including plays, and screenplay). Lovely article Kid, it's so good to see someone championing reading. I'm always haranguing my friends for not reading enough and doing too much facebook.

  3. wow this is such a coincidental post...

    in the past few months or so I've really started reading a lot more. I never really used to read at all, apart from just for school or uni, but after reading a few really interesting things (and yes one of them was actually a self help book!) I've thought there's just so much that can be learnt from it.

    but jesus 80 books a year?? 40 books ?? that's a lot of reading. I haven't seen the Stephen King recommendation, but I don't think there should be a number set to how many books someone should read. I think reading should come from wanting to read, not from wanting to break a record or reach a certain number. It's not like going to the gym.

    If a particular book is interesting, don't just finish it, close it and move on to the next one- if it really touches you, take notes from it, analyse it, and see what ideas, ways of thinking you can apply from it to your own life- even if it is fiction!

  4. I love to read, too. It evokes the best and worst of all emotions, educates, and takes me to places, cultures, lifestyles, religions and experiences I will never have time to do in one lifetime. What a wonderful post.

  5. I don't think I could live without books. Although my books are mostly novels, I do sometimes slip in the odd biography. Karl Marx by Francis Wheen is a book I still browse and talk about 10 years after its publication. As well as politicians I also have a fascination for artists and writers. You should see the pile of 'books to read' on my bedside table...

    Great post.

    Helena xx

  6. I am currently reading "the end of your world" by Adyashanti.
    If you remove the paper cover, it is almost blank so you can reading in the train. But actually, if you read it, you won't care much about what people think of you anymore.

  7. just finished reading daemon by daniel suarez. i read it cuz cutting edge tech novels are like psychic flashes built from facts. if you
    re a william gibson fan, you'll love this . . . what is the logical conclusion of this global net thing that's happening???

  8. i am reading 'best short stories of 2009' edited by alice sebold (who i love as an author) and i'm reading it to learn how to write a good short story!!! I am trying my hand at my own collection. and failing. bad.

  9. I've read Anne Brontë's Agnes Grey, Margaret Atwood's Handmaid Tale and about 4 back issues of Empire. I've been reading other peoples worlds and I've come to the conclusion that we are living in the age of indulgence. In the UK people moan about such trivial things but when you think about it we are really fortunate. Some things could better but they could also be a hell of a lot worse.

  10. This is a great post. I've been writing so much that I've kind of forgotten to read! Time to get back to it- thanks for the prod.