Kindling

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One of my favourite things to do on my morning & evening commutes is read. I read a lot. In part, I read a lot because of a fascination with learning. To reference a certain Mr. Warren Buffet, the best investment you can make is in yourself. My wellbeing has not been a priority over the last few years as I focused on my career, but I’ve started to make a positive shift to ensure I don’t die at 35 of cardiac arrest. But my big investment has always been in my brain.

I don’t think I’m a particularly smart man. I’m not. My one skill I can bring to the table is that I’m very focused, energised, good at breaking down data & mainly I’m very organised. Other people are much smarter when it comes to things like maths, science and even the understanding of data. Everyone has their place. But in order to ensure my brain doesn’t go to mush entirely, I read.

That desire for brainfood is a huge personal benefit, and when I talk to people who don’t read – and they always admit that fact with a twinge of guilt – I nearly always implore them to start. Go cold turkey. Start reading.

In my current job, I get books related to work for free on the Kindle. Now, what relates to work is very loosely defined. Our COO said that if we can justify a book on basket weaving’s potential to teach us how to sell, service or produce then it’s fine to expense. Incidentally, I’ve never gotten a book about basket weaving.

So, with that in mind I thought I’d write this post to implore people to read.

Please, start reading. You’ll be a better person for it. And if you have kids, get them reading too!

My tool of choice for reading is the humble dead tree. I love flicking through a book. And I even fold the top corner of the page I’m at. I don’t have a fancy bookmark to indicate where I am with the book. Nope, I like my books to be tattered and torn after a while. I want to feel like it’s been lived with for some period. Each book has a message, a tale and an experience.

However, I can’t expense physical books in work, so my tool of choice for most books is a Kindle. I had an old Kindle years ago which served me well but hurt my eyes. I can’t deal with the display on the iPad (my eyes are bad enough as it is), so I reverted to books as much as possible. But this year I bought the higher end Kindle; the Voyage.

It has 300dpi on the screen (which is touch sensitive), backlighting abilities to help reading in the dark and has nice buttons on the side to switch between pages (they’re areas to squeeze, rather than buttons – and they vibrate gently when the page has successfully been turned). In short, Amazon managed to build the Kindle for me.

I love it. It comes with me everywhere. Yes, it was crazy expensive, but so far in the last 6 months I’ve gone through countless books and suddenly have a wealth of knowledge in my brain that I didn’t have before.

I still revert back to physical dead tree’s every time I want to read a good fiction book (my favourite author right now is Haruki Murakami), but for everything else my Kindle is a godsend.

That’s my tool of choice, but it doesn’t really matter how you read a book. Read it upside down on a laptop for all I care. But again, I’ll implore everyone to just read.

One of my favourite interview questions is what’s the last thing you read. Sometimes people cite interesting blog posts. Sometimes they cite books I’ve read (“How Google Works” seems to be the favourite around here) and sometimes they cite books that I will read in the future. But anyone who hasn’t got a good answer drops points in my mind during the process.

So while reading has a very direct ‘brain food’ benefit, it could also affect you outside of that. I might not even hire you because you’re not advancing your brain!