Tag Archives: Love is a Killer App

MacKay is Correct about Benefits to Reading

I read with interest a recent entry in the Lessons in Leadership series, authored by columnist and best-selling author Harvey MacKay, entitled “Benefits to Reading Good Books are Many.”  You can find the complete article in the Saturday, August 20, 2011 edition of the Orange Country Register (p. B-3), and I have reproduced a good part of it below for you to see.

While the entire article is worth your pursuit, here are some interesting observations that he shares:

1.  School turns kids off from reading.  When they enter school, most children are interested in reading.  By the time, they graduate, 80 percent indicate that they will never voluntarily read another book.

2.  Statistics indicate that the average person reads only three books a year.

3.  If you find a book you really like, go back and read it again three to ten years after you’ve had different experiences.

4.  And like the wild Tim Sanders, who wrote Love is a Killer App, MacKay believes that “it is not enough to read a motivational self-help book.  You have to study it, underline it, highlight it, and take good notes.  Good books should never be put away permanently.”

By the way, I read four books last week.  And I’m not counting.   I agree with MacKay’s statement that “you’ll never waste your time if you are reading!

What do you think?  Let’s talk about it soon!

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Benefits to Reading Good Books are ManyHarvey MacKayLessons in Leadership

Our lives basically change in two ways — the people we meet and the books we read.

My friend, the late Charles “Tremendous” Jones, shared this notion with me several years ago, and as an author, I took it as both a compliment and a challenge. In fact, I thought it was so powerful that I use it in all my speeches.

And I have firsthand experience on the importance of books in our lives. My first book, “Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive,” sold a lot of copies. But the best part was the feedback from readers: Thousands told me that the book has changed their lives. Again, I am both honored and daunted. That was an enormous responsibility to assume.

Let me share the biggest secret of a really life-changing book: If you have found a book that taught you a tremendous amount, you need to go back and read that book three, five, seven and 10 years later, after you’ve had different experiences. It is not enough to simply read a motivational self-help book. You have to study it, underline it, highlight it and take notes. Good books should never be put away permanently.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a paper-and-ink fan or a Kindle/Nook devotee, books are your ticket to places you can only dream of. A good read can stretch your imagination and spark your creativity. Books inspire, comfort, teach and entertain. Inscribed on the Thomas Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress are the first eight words of a quotation by famed American author Henry David Thoreau: “Books are the treasured wealth of the world.”

Reading researcher Kylene Beers of Yale University says something happens to U.S. kids as they make their way through school: “About 100 percent of first-graders walk in on the first day and are interested in this thing called reading,” she says. “Eighty percent of graduating high school seniors tell us they will never again voluntarily read another book.”

J. K. Rowling is credited with reviving the interest in reading with the fabulously popular Harry Potter series, and the Twilight books hooked legions of fans. There is no lack of good reading material. And yet, statistics tell us that the average person reads just three books a year.

Three books! Not only am I an advocate of reading everything I can get my hands on, I am a huge proponent of lifelong learning. When your career or family schedules preclude enrolling in a class, books provide another avenue. Read to expand your mind. Read for fun. Read because you are interested in something— and read to become more interesting. You’ll never waste your time if you are reading!

American writer Clarence Day said, “The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall; nations perish; civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead.”

Individuals read to live life to its fullest, to earn a living, to understand what is going on in the world, and to benefit from the accumulated knowledge of civilization, according to a U.S. Department of Education study by Bernice Cullinan of New York University. Even the benefits of democracy and the capacity to govern ourselves successfully depend on reading.

Another angle on the benefits of reading good books came from Norman Cousins, editor and writer for the Saturday Review, since deceased, who said: “There is a simple nonmedical technique for increasing longevity. This system goes by the name of ‘book.’ Through it, man can live hundreds of lifetimes in one.

“What is more, he may enjoy fabulous options. He can live in any age of his choosing. He can take possession of an experience. He can live inside the mind of any man who has recorded an interesting thought, any man who has opened up new slices of knowledge, any man who has engaged in depths of feeling or awareness beyond the scope of most mortals. This is what good books are all about.”

You Won’t Get Memories From a Kindle Like You Will From a Book

Here is some more ammunition for Kindle-bashers, coming from the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal on February 12-13, 2011.

In the weekly Books section, Eric Ormsby writes that “books beget books – and sometimes writers are moved to pay tribute to the ones that formed them” (p. C7).  His article points out that writers claim that their inspiration for writing comes as much from the books they have read, as from life itself.  And, especially so from those they read as a child. 

In the piece, he argues this:  “an interesting feature of such reminiscenses is how strongly they depend upon the physical nature of the book.  The printed book’s physicality presents a challenge to e-books, however convenient they are.  We tend to remember the love and heft of a book that we fell in love with.  Will we feel the same about ghostly glimmerings of a monitor?”

And, then:  “One reads a certain edition, a specific copy, recognizable by the roughness or smoothness of its paper, by its scent, by a slight tear on page 72 and a coffee ring on the right-hand corner of the back cover.”

Ormsby’s piece reminds me of Tim Sanders’ best-seller, Love is a Killer App.  Sanders advocates working with a book, not just reading it.  He said to buy hardback books – 4-6 at a time, write in the margins, and draft a summary at the end of  a chapter before going to the next.  The book even shows sample pages from books Sanders worked with.

There is no way that innovations on electronic readers such as a Kindle, including emoticons, highlighters, and flash pens come close to duplicating, or even replicating, working with a book in the way Ormsby and Sanders talk about it.  Hold your book, work with your book, and remember your book.  That is how you build and capture your memories.   And, that is what inspires additional writing.

In conclusion, a glimmering monitor does not hold a candle to that experience.

What do you think?  Let’s talk about it!