There’s an old adage that says for science and technology read the newest, but for literature read the oldest. The classics are always modern. I have always found this to be true. John Lubbock said, “The choice of books, like that of friends, is a serious duty. We are as responsible for what we read as what we do.” Deciding what books to buy to read is a very personal decision. But just like with buying clothing, if you value quality and longevity, buy and read the best.
While I am delighted every single day at the amount of tremendous material being published, it can be overwhelming. Everyone asks me if I’ve read this or that. I am barely getting through our own manuscripts and publications!! Dr. Orison S. Marden offered a piece of advice that helped me quell my anxiety and manage the task. He stated that by spending just 15 minutes of concentrated reading every day, you could get through the great authors in about five years!
There are three main types of books that I love to read: biographies/autobiographies; inspirational stores; and allegories. The first, bios and autobios, combine the charm of fiction with the satisfaction of being real. How many times, after viewing a movie or TV program, does it resonate more strongly if it based on a true story? When I get input from consultants or experts, my very first question is, have you been where I am and done what I’m trying to do successfully? My very favorite Napoleon Hill quote is, "Who said it could not be done? And, what great victories does he have to his credit which qualifies him to judge others accurately." With a book, I can pick a leader who’s lived through my problems and watch someone who has applied practical knowledge and hard work, and doesn’t just offer theory. One of my favorite historical figures is Gen. George S. Patton. I can read his comments on leadership and decision making every single day for the rest of my life and still get something fresh every time.
I also love books about people who have overcome tremendous odds. One of my recent favorites is titled 8 Attributes of Great Achievers
by Cameron Taylor. Here I can learn about how Walt Disney’s own family begged him not to make the first animated feature movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
, fearing they’d be the laughing stock of the film industry and lose everything. I can learn why George Washington carried a bloody sash with him throughout his life. How Winston Churchill’s optimism enabled England to withstand the attack of Hitler and eventually win the war. How Gandhi’s “experiment with truth” enabled him to go from a shy boy and an average man to the leader of 500 million people who called him “The Great Soul.”
The last flavor of books I enjoy reading is parables or allegories. One of my childhood favorites was Hinds’ Feet on High Places
by Hannah Hunard. Two more recent favorites are Journal of a Climber
by Chuck Reaves and The Sheep Thief
by Al Walker. The beauty of these books is that they capture what each of us goes through by using the allegory of a mountain climber and a middle aged business executive. There are momentous successes in our lives, as well as deep despair. Anyone pushing to grow will see each phase of their lives reflected in these books and I have personally used them to map out my continuing life journey. Theodore Parker said, “The hardest way of learning is by easy reading.” So let’s make life’s learning path easier by choosing material to feed our mind, heart and soul the greatest amount of nourishment possible.