Feeding Our Minds

January 27, 2010

I’m hungry. Not in a literal sense…actually, I just finished eating my dinner before writing this. No, I’m hungry for information, knowledge and the magic of a powerful thought and a well-crafted sentence. I’m hungry for fiction so engaging that I forget to eat, drink or go to the bathroom. This doesn’t happen to me often, but when it does, it’s nirvana.

Books are my head candy and, like a Kit-Kat, I cannot get enough. You see, I’m on a mission…a mission to be intellectually buff.  I love books and currently have more books and magazines than I have time to read them.  But that’s okay, I’m always comforted knowing that I have at least one magazine and one book on-deck.

The other day I was at a fast food restaurant ordering food. Since I happened to be dining alone on that occasion, I had a book in my hand ready to eat and read. After placing my order, the young man behind the counter saw my book and made a confession to me: “Besides my textbooks in school, I’ve only read two books in my life.”

Huh? Only two books?

I wanted to yell out to him, “are you crazy, you’ve only read two books for pleasure!?” But I tried to approach the conversation without judgment. I also tried to engage in a conversation with him since I was the only person in line.

“Have you ever read Stephen King?” I asked, thinking that he fit the demographic of a guy who would enjoy a good Stephen King horror novel.

It turns out he did read one Stephen King story…one of his short stories that was made into a movie. One of the newer ones that I’ve neither seen nor read.  I flashed back to my teen years when I was mesmerized by reading King’s stories especially Misery, The Stand, The Talisman, Salem’s Lot and the novellas in The Bachman Books.  These books fueled my imagination and gave me endless hours of entertainment.

I don’t tell you this story to feel superior or to look down on this restaurant employee. I tell you this story as a reminder to not take books for granted.

I still remember sitting in my high school history class when our teacher, Mr. O’Malley, reminded us that countries used to withhold books and information in order to control and oppress and its citizens. We still see this today in many parts of the world, especially third-world countries and the middle east where literacy rates hover at less than 50 percent.

I’m not a parent, but when my friends who are parents tell me that they read to their kids every night, it’s magic to my ears.  When I go to the library and I see a mom with her kids checking out a big stack of books, I smile. I am so thankful that my parents encouraged me to read when I was a kid.

A few months ago, my friend Lori at Jane Be Nimble, had a post that detailed some of the books by her nightstand. I can identify.  Some of the books by my nightstand currently include:

  • Along Came a Spider by James Patterson.  I’ve read a couple of the ladies detective agency books and have enjoyed them, but have never read an Alex Cross mystery.  I realize this series is probably not going to challenge me like classic literature would, but the point here is pure entertainment.
  • Back In Control: How to Stay Sane, Productive and Inspired in Your Career Transition by Diane Grimard Wilson. At the end of last year, Ms. Wilson gave a talk that I attended and gave this book away. I found her talk to be fascinating…it gave us a psychological approach to career transition and the job hunt.  She also gave us a squeezable stress ball shaped like a brain. Cool!
  • The Law of Attraction: The Basic Teachings of Abraham by Esther and Jerry Hicks. I’m pretty intrigued by the whole law of attraction thing.  I can fully understand why many people are skeptical, however being the curious person that I am, I wanted to get Esther and Jerry Hicks’ perspective. I’m still early into this book and don’t really know what to make of it yet.
  • The Zen of Organizing (library book) by Regina Leeds. What can I say?  I need to clear out some clutter in my life (not my books) and the beginning of the year is a good time to read this. I think it’s out of print, but you might find it in your local library like I did. It is in print and available on Amazon.com – which is good to know because I really need to get busy on my organizing.  I enjoy how she combines the principles of zen with clearing clutter.
  • Made to Stick by Dan and Chip Heath. I’ve found this book to be simply amazing. If you’re into ideas or telling stories, you need to read this book.  I recommend this book to bloggers, since I think we are about providing memorable, sticky content for our readers.
  • Sporting News: 2010 Fantasy Baseball Magazine. Spring training starts in a month…are you ready for the season?

In my book (pun intended), reading is one of the most important things we can do to enrich both ourselves and our kids. And we need to read what’s going on with our government…after all, we elected them to represent us.

How about you…are you reading anything good?

Flickr Creative Commons photo courtesy of vieux bandit

1 Nadia - Happy Lotus January 28, 2010 at 8:35 am

Hi Tim,

My two addictions in life….coffee and books! Words cannot describe the joy of reading. I always have a stack of books at hand and just love it when I discover a new book or writer. It is sheer bliss!

One book that I am reading now which is really awesome is the follow-up book to “The Art of Happiness”. It is about finding happiness in a troubled world. It is by the Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler. The book totally rocks. 🙂

By the way, you are not alone in your amazement at how some people do not read. I know many people who have no desire to pick up a book which floors me but to each their own. 🙂

2 Diane Wilson January 28, 2010 at 10:16 am

Thanks for the good words about Back in Control and my talk! Wow, what a nice blog!.

I’m doing a Monday morning group at Unity Temple in Oak Park to help people in transition set goals and be accountable. Monday seems like the biggest challenge. Feel free to pass that information on the anyone who needs a “jump start.” Otherwise, be well and again thanks. Diane

3 Regina Leeds January 28, 2010 at 11:05 am

Greetings!

I loved your post. Reading opens the mind and one’s world, doesn’t it?

“The Zen of Organizing” is absolutely still in print and available most easily from on line retailers like Amazon. The publisher is Alpha Books, the folks who brought the Idiots Guides to readers.

Blessings,
Regina

4 Tim January 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Hi Nadia: I’m right there with you on coffee and books…they are both favorites of mine. Thank you, also, for the book recommendation – once again I’m intrigued. Yes, I think reading is an absolute gift and I wanted to encourage everyone to encourage others to read in my post. I guess this is a great opportunity to say with great pride, I’m a book geek. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

Hi Diane: Wow, thank you for stopping by and for your nice words! Your talk, just a few days before Christmas, was truly a gift. I know there are a lot of readers on this blog that enjoy different ways to use and improve our brains. I think your book is a perfect tool to help us use our brains more effectively during the challenging job transition process. Thanks for the heads up on your group…I will certainly look into it.

Regina: Wow, thank you so much for stopping by! Thank you, also, for clarifying that your book is in print…when I checked Amazon.com, I had the impression that it wasn’t for some reason-I’m sorry for any misunderstanding. In any case, I think the Zen of Organizing book is very impressive along with your more recent book which I need to get: “One Year to an Organized Life.” In The Zen of Organizing, I love that you mentioned the movie, “The Fish that Saved Pittsburgh,” which I dragged my mother into taking me when I was young. Thanks for teaching all of us to gain more control of our lives through de-cluttering and for sharing your thoughts!

5 Lori January 31, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Hi Tim,

I have so much to say about this post! Thanks for mentioning me in your post, too. 😉

To be honest, I felt kind of strange divulging all the books on my nightstand to the entire world. But, then I realized that I LOVE READING so much and I’ve read such GREAT BOOKS that I want to share them with everyone who is willing to listen. Like Nadia and yourself, reading brings me joy like nothing else.

Well, I do love a great movie, too.

I’m torn when I hear people aren’t reading, but I also *get* that some people have chosen very full lives and they might not want to make the time to read for pleasure. I know when I was school/graduate school, I could rarely carve out time to do so. I’m definitely making up for that now. But, the kid has only read two books??? That makes me sad. 😐

Oh yeah, and I’m a strong Stephen King supporter. In fact, he wrote a my favorite memoir called On Writing if you’re into that kind of thing. I have intense memories of reading his books as a teenager – the same books you mention, in fact.

I could go on and on about your post, Tim, but I’ll stop here. Thanks so much for a great post, for sharing more great reads (YES!) and for talking about the topics you introduced here. I hope you add more posts about what you’re reading in the future.

Oh, and this totally made me laugh, “Not in a literal sense…actually, I just finished eating my dinner before writing this.”

ha ha ha 😛

6 Tim January 31, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Lori: Ha…I’m glad you found some of this funny. Yeah, isn’t Stephen King great? I’ve read On Writing and absolutely enjoyed it…I’m glad you really liked it too. Yeah, sounds like books have been an big part of your life, which is very good to hear. I’ve known some people, even myself at certain points in my life, where perhaps I was reading too much…is that possible? What I mean is that I think I’ve used reading for escape, which is great, but these fictional adventures are still not as good as real adventures. What you said about revealing the books on your nightstand is interesting…it is amazing when I visit new acquaintances because one look at their bookshelf really reveals a lot about them. In any case, thanks for sharing some thoughts on reading, I’m curious to read about any new books on the nightstand. Hope the rest of your weekend is great!

7 Jason of Kim & Jason February 4, 2010 at 12:28 am

Tim, I too am a great lover of books. My birthday s coming up and I plan on spending a big chunk of it at Borders or Barnes & Noble — bliss! I have been thinking lately on whether or not I’d ever want a Kindle. My shrinking shelf space would probably approve, but I think I’d miss the touchy-feelyness and the color and the smell of real books. How about you? Do you have a Kindle? What’s your take?
.-= Jason of Kim & Jason´s last post…Open Letter to Alton Brown (and Dads Everywhere) =-.

8 Tim February 4, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Hi Jason: I’m still pretty old school when it comes to books. I don’t have a Kindle yet. But some of my favorite books are ones with interesting design and photos…I’m talking books from Tom Peters, various artists, cookbooks and coffee table books. I’m not sure how well these books would translate to Kindle or other digital readers. I think they’ve done a good job designing these e-readers to be easier on the eyes, which is very important to me. As much as the Kindle might help me get rid of some clutter, I’ll probably hold out for as long as I can without one. Happy Birthday in advance and enjoy time spent browsing at the bookstores…another of my favorite activities!

9 Ricardo Bueno February 17, 2010 at 4:50 am

Julien Smith wrote a post on how to read 52 books in the year (it was more of a challenge really). That’s what I’m doing. I’m on a mission to read 52 books in one year (a book a week). So far, I’m doing ok (I think I’m a little behind but I’ll catch up).

Most of the books I’m reading are marketing and business books. Then of course there’s books like “The Four Agreements” and “Even Eagle’s Need A Push.”

I guess for me, reading is motivating. It’s one of my sources of inspiration so it shouldn’t be too hard to live up to the challenge.
.

10 Tim February 17, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Hi Ricardo: Thanks for reminding me about Julien’s post, it is certainly something to aim for. Good to hear you’re following in the challenge…I’m right there with you on all of the marketing and business books and even all of the spiritual books. But as much as I enjoy reading, I seem to get distracted by blogs, magazines, etc. I need to be conscious of this. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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