When’s the Last Time You Picked Up a Book?

“The man who never reads will never be read;
he who never quotes will never be quoted.
He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s
brains proves he has no brain of his own.”
– Charles H Spurgeon

For the majority of my life I HATED to read.

I’m not sure what it was but it just didn’t appeal to me. My guess is that early on in my life my world revolved around sports and there were very few things outside of that that interested me. Sure, it’s fine to read fiction books, but it’s tough to sit down and read a non-fiction book if you’re not interested in the topic and would rather being doing something else with your time.

The problem (well, one of the many) with our world these days is that once kids graduate high school or college they feel their learning is over.

There are too many things that we’d rather do with our time and ‘there just isn’t enough time to read.’

WRONG! There isn’t time for you not to read!

The reality is that if you never improve yourself, even after you graduate college, then you’re going to get left behind.

If you’re not constantly filling your brain with new information, learning new techniques, or simply expanding your horizons then it’s merely a matter of time before you’re left in the dust and wondering why you’re not getting hired for jobs or landing the new promotion that you’ve been desperately seeking.

About 5 years ago, after leaving college and being a relative bum for a lengthy period of time, I started to pick up reading again and it’s changed my world in more ways than I can imagine.

It’s now gotten to the point where if I go for a long period of time without picking up a book then I start to feel there is something missing in my life.

There are brilliant people out in this world that have written things about ANYTHING you could ever want to know, yet we choose to stay true to the status quo and forgo the wealth of information for the precious time of watching television or running the kids to every sporting event known to man.

I haven’t done this intentionally but because of what I do as a living I’ve been able to interact more with people than ever before. This access has also allowed me to internally analyze them and study personality types.

It often intrigues me when I recommend books for people to read and on one hand a few take the advice, delve into the knowledge and come back and tell me how it’s helped them, changed their outlook on things, and given them knowledge and know-how that they wouldn’t have otherwise received.

However, for a reason I’ve still been unable to figure out, some just won’t go do it!

I don’t care if you don’t like to read, I don’t care if it doesn’t interest you, JUST GO DO IT!

Do you know what’s mind boggling though? Sarcastically. The people that take the time to learn, evolve, and develop themselves get further ahead in life. They expand their knowledge, perspective, understanding, and value to their families, employers, and to the world.

Whereas, more often-than-not the people that chose to allocate their time doing something that was more valuable to them (or something ‘more fun’) never end up figuring out what’s wrong and they get frustrated when they’re still in the same position they found themselves 3, 6, or 12 months prior.

The last part of the quote by Spurgeon struck me the most as I’ve found it to be indisputably true:

“He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s
brains proves he has no brain of his own.”

A reader and fellow blogger, Karl from CultofMoney, said it well in a comment on the site a few days ago: “this human race of ours will do wonders as soon as you can learn from the mistakes of other people. Imagine if you were the last human to overspend and hit bottom.

There is nothing wrong with people that are content with where they are in their lives, and therefore choose not to read because they just don’t care. However, I’d suggest that if you want to strive to be the best husband, father, wife, mother, co-worker, friend, employee, Christian, or human being that you can be, then you have to stop being a lazy, uninformed, sorry excuse for mankind and READ!

“The man who does not read good books has no
advantage over the man who cannot read them.”
– Mark Twain

Knowledge is power, however knowledge that is applied will prove the difference at the end of the day.

About the Author

By , on Jun 1, 2012
Andy Tenton
Andy is a 30-something New Yorker who turned his financial life around. He took charge of his finances, got out of debt, and is now working his way toward financial success. He is the publisher of WorkSaveLive.com.

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  1. Great topic, Andy. I also believe that reading is important to growing. Thankfully, I can say I am reading one right now. It’s an older top seller, called The Power of Positive Thinking. This is a reminder that I need to finish it so I can move on to my next read. Have a great day!

  2. Crystal says:

    I just finished reading “The Read-Aloud Handbook” by Jim Trelease and I can’t explain how important this book is for all parents and teachers! It goes into details of studies proving again and again how beneficial it is for children of all ages to be read to, and to read, all the time.

    The book also states that many children were not read to or did not engage in reading for pleasure, so the only association they had with reading was in school where it was mandatory. Hence, many children in the world today have a negative view of reading because they always “had” to read for class, assignments, etc. instead of learning to read for fun and for self-improvement.

  3. Jefferson says:

    i love to read.. i really do. we go to the library every two weeks, and there are always 2-3 books that i am reading at any given time.. the problem is, that i have trouble finishing them. i just finished the three hunger games books this morning and the third one took me 4 weeks to finish (admittedly, the third one was terrible), but it was still embarrassing.

    I do read a ton every day, I just tend to read through my favorite blogs and such instead of books.

  4. Shilpan says:

    I love to read personal development books. That’s my passion. I believe that you can improve all areas of your life — including your personal finances — by learning how to become a better person. I love reading books from my early age, and I still love to read with same passion.

    • Andy says:

      I’m with you Shilpan! I typically read development books as well. I have over 30 books on my reading list that I’m still trying to get around to. LOL.

  5. Ornella says:

    It’s great to see someone who is passionate about reading. I do enjoy reading. Much of my reading is now focused on behavioral finance.

    You are right….reading doesn’t hold the same value like it used to. It’s great to see you have brought up excellent points.

    • Andy says:

      I haven’t read many behavioral finance books, do you have any recommendations? A friend of mine has recommended Predictably Irrational but I haven’t gotten around to that one yet.

  6. I hadn’t read since college and then I read about 5 or 6 books in a couple weeks. It seems to be feast or famine for me but since I’ve started blogging all of my reading has been other blogs.

  7. This is absolutely great advice. I know that when I fail to read more broadly than just what I can read on the Internet, that my mental acumen seems to really fall off.

    Thanks for reminding me of the importance of reading.

    • Andy says:

      I’m with you Thad! It’s pretty rare that I read something on a blog (especially the ones I visit) that I’m blown away by the idea, or that it’s written so well that it just compels me to think about something differently. The books have better quality of information (no offense to us bloggers).

  8. CultOfMoney says:

    Andy, thanks for the kind quote, couldn’t imagine that I would ever get quoted right before Mark Twain. 🙂 I actually have had in the past almost the opposite problem. I used to read non-fiction books of all kind, just because. It really wasn’t until the Harry Potter series came out that I read much fiction at all. In fact, it is a personal goal of mine to read all of the classics, the ancient Greek philosphers, all of the Bards plays, all the American philosophers and writers. It’s been put on hold lately, but I think you’ve got the answer above. Everything you could ever want to know is already been written about somewhere. Read it, learn from it, build on it. “All men by nature desire knowledge.” — Aristotle

    • Andy says:

      No problem Karl! Sounds like you were an information whiz. Hoarding knowledge doesn’t do much good but if you applied anything you read then I don’t think it would have been a problem that you read so much.

  9. I read 25-30 blogs a week, but only get around to listening to about one audio book every month or two now. I used to pack away more than 100 fictions a year, but I have strayed away. I really want to tackle the In Death series again and may do that over the summer. 🙂

    • Andy says:

      I read a lot of blogs as well but I often don’t feel that I’m actually learning anything. The problem for me is that I read a ton of finance blogs and I’m familiar with a lot of the material already. If I read books I learn more towards self-development, leadership, or Christian books.

  10. You can’t help a person that doesn’t want to be helped!
    I also have an issue finding time to read a good book. I feel like I read too slowly. I also feel like I can’t read a fiction book as it wouldn’t be as useful as non-fiction. Any tips?

  11. Joe Morgan says:

    “Life is not a race to win but a school of higher learning”

    How’s that for a quote!

    I learned it in highschool and can’t remember to whom it was attributed. A quick Google search turned up nothing too, so maybe I invented it?

    Anyway, great post and I also liked your last quote:

    “He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s
    brains proves he has no brain of his own.”

    I’ve always thought that learning from your own mistakes is essential in life, but learning from other people’s mistakes is even better. That’s similar to that quote. 🙂

  12. I enjoy to read it’s just a matter of finding the time. I have been working on Hunger Games for about 2 months now.

  13. Narrowmindedness I think is the result of avoiding books and learning, and narrow minded people offer little to society. I’m energized by learning, and quickly get bored when I’ve mastered something. A key element of child rearing I think is inculcating in kids a love of learning and reading.

    • Joe Morgan says:

      You make a great point, but learning and reading go beyond traditional books these days… with blogs, podcasts, audio books etc… the internet actually has a wealth of information on it. Unfortunately, for most people it’s background noise and short attention tweets on twitter..

  14. Modest Money says:

    Well I’m discovering that our pasts are more and more similar Andy. I used to avoid reading at all costs. In the last several years though I have finally got back into it. I’m still at the point that I would rather read fiction for thre escapism aspect. Plus my mind wanders less if there’s a good story to get into. I did read my first non-fiction book since college a month or so back. All the blog reading I do must be adding some decent knowledge too. I definitely agree that more people need to get into reading. They are just missing out on some much additional learning.

  15. Hey Andy! I love to read, especially fiction. I read a lot for my job though because I negotiate contractual language as well as draft up contracts. It’s pretty tedious. You know when people skim through their contracts/terms & agreements? Yeah, I’m actually the person reading the whole thing, word for word…up to the tiniest detail. It could mean that a client could up and leave without paying us if we don’t catch these things.

    So since I read so much dry crap at work, I like to read blogs (duh!) and fiction..mysteries, thrillers, chick lit, anything. I was really tired of reading when I was studying for the LSAT but since that was dry and boring material, it was no wonder I was always falling asleep.

    I find that bringing a fiction book in my purse helps a lot when I am waiting somewhere.

    • Andy says:

      My wife loves to read fiction but I haven’t gotten into it since I was in high school.

      I think I might have your view though if I had to read legal mumbo-jumbo all day. That’s terrible!

  16. Michelle says:

    I need to read more. Besides textbooks, the only book I’ve read in over five years was Hunger Games, and that was just 2 months ago.

  17. david says:

    Good point Andy, I also marvel at the people who refuse to take good advice.

    The problem is that there are many, many areas where this very thing takes place. I run a dental health store. I know that about 75% or 3 out of every 4 people have gum disease.

    Yet, if you try to tell people what they can do to stop or prevent this problem, they just don’t listen. Many are not yet aware that they have a problem.

    Anyway, the point is, there are many areas in life where people will not take good advice. Many people have tried to help others but in the end, they have found that many people simply won’t listen to or take to heart the best ideas on the planet.

  18. jennifer says:

    I am fun of reading and learn different things matter, I love expanding my thoughts and trying to give my perception about the flows of ideas…

  19. Katie says:

    Great Post! I love to read. I have never had an interest in fictions books, but when it comes to non fiction I usually read at least one a week. I think there is so much to learn from others.

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