Great Minds Read a Lot
Elon Musk has always been a sucker for books. In fact, it’s been said that he used to read for 10 hours every day.
Elon Musk has always been a sucker for books. In fact, it’s been said that he used to read for 10 hours every day. According to Musk himself, he was primarily raised by books; even his own parents came later.
Still, Musk isn’t the only magnate who takes his reading seriously. Warren Buffett admitted to reading 500 pages a day. While this isn’t a competition of who’s the biggest reader, it immensely proves the point I’m trying to make: great minds read. A lot.
How much is “a lot”? As with anything, it depends. To you, 10 pages a day can be a lot. Other people read a 300-page novel in one sitting. The important thing, however, isn’t to shove books down your throat -- reading means savoring every word, every metaphor, and every interconnection of thoughts. Otherwise, what’s the point?
You’re Not Reading Just One Book: You’re Reading Several
The author of any book has gone a long way to get to their final product. The one book you might be reading at the moment is brimming with references from other books and quotes from other authors. That’s because no book could ever be born if people didn’t borrow knowledge from one another!
As an example, author of horror Stephen King tells us author Richard Matheson heavily influenced his work. Therefore, in your King novel, there’s a squeeze of Matheson and of other writers who inspired King in the past. Not necessarily in his writing style, but in his development of ideas. And you can bet those authors who served as King’s muses devoured piles of books before putting a word to paper.
After poring over thousands of pages, they’ve selected their sources of inspiration. Then, with careful brainwork, they’ve pieced these ideas together, introducing them into fictional or factual stories.
When you highlight passages or take notes to write an essay, for instance, you’re doing the same thing. And that’s still true if you don’t like what you’re reading.
Always Read Outside of Your Comfort Zone
You may think Bill Gates’ favorite books all belong in a cluster of science-y topics. That’s untrue.
In Summer 2020, in his personal blog, Gates shared 5 books to those looking for distractions during the pandemic. Even though his collection features business books like Good Economics for Hard Times and The Ride of a Lifetime, he also recommends books like The Great Influenza and The Choice.
The first book covers one of the deadliest pandemics in history, and the second narrates the struggle of an Auschwitz survivor and how she held on to faith during dark times. These aren’t topics that will give him actionable tips on how to successfully run a business. Still, they’ll give him tools to understand how historic events connect to the present, as well as how to heal from difficult times. And that knowledge, too, is essential for any successful business owner.
If you’re avidly reading about your craft, that’s awesome. But don’t forget to randomize. Like Gates, read books that will make you a better human.
The late great Steve Jobs said it all:“Creativity is just connecting things.”In his own words, connecting existing experiences allows people to synthesize new ideas. That’s the role of books in our lives, and that’s how people get smarter over time.
You Don’t Need to Read for 10 Hours a Day to Be Successful…
...but you do need to make reading a part of your daily routine. The point isn’t if you’re reading for 40 minutes or four hours a day, but whether you’re reading at all.
Speaking of Bill Gates, he thinks of rest as an essential part of a productive routine. The man himself needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, and so do you.
Don’t make books another mark in a checkbox or another item on your pile. Think about them holistically, as an affiliation of ideas, viewpoints, and contexts transformed into a new rich piece of work. Go through them methodically, and watch your life change.
The more books you read, the richer your knowledge becomes. But you already knew that. Now hop to it.
We’re building Glasp to give everyone the power to leave their learnings and experiences throughout their life as a utilitarian legacy for future generations. Glasp beautifully organizes what you resonated with on the web, so you can connect the dots. If this resonates with you, please check it out!