I’m not a reader. At least, I wasn’t. Well, I was… but then I wasn’t, and now I am again.
I did bad in high school because I read. Really. Instead of paying attention, I’d read books in class. Quite literally, The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan is at least 52% of why I was in constant trouble in high school. If that would have been a six book series (of 400 page books) instead of an eleventy-billion book series (of twelve-billion page books) I probably wouldn’t have gotten bored so quickly and graduated. After high school, I stopped reading.
But I digress.
Here I am in 2012 and I decided to make a modest goal of reading twelve books this year. Not because I think reading is the only way to enlightenment or anything like that, but simply because it’s a different area of creativity I wanted to foster for myself. I like to write. Reading should come with that, right? So my first step was to let myself off the hook. What hook? The Christian book hook. Since I started working at a Church, I’ve had this unnatural (and unnecessary, it seems) bent on only reading Christian leadership books. No fiction. No nothing. Honestly, this is probably why I stopped reading in the first place. I have a personal distaste for anything, Christian or otherwise, that lists the 5 reasons to fix whatever might be wrong in my life. I don’t see things that black and white, and to be able to sum up <insert your number here> ways to fix something generally says to me that the author is simply trying to sell books, and not really being authentic.
Yikes… I digress again…
Anyway, so I decided I’d read anything. I started the year in some fiction, but quickly found that it seems I prefer non-fiction, and usually biographies or memoirs of some sort. Interesting enough, there’s a lot of good stuff out there. I also wanted to be sure I didn’t just read things I would automatically agree with. That’s too easy. I wanted insight from all spectrum’s of life, not just what’s familiar to me and my worldview.
So here we are, it’s almost June of 2012. I had a goal of twelve books in 2012, a modest goal to be sure, but considering I read all of one book in 2011, I wanted it to be an attainable goal. Well I’m happy to report I have read eleven books and am almost done with number twelve. Well, technically I read ten books, and stopped reading one, but I still count it. So here’s what I’ve read, my 1-5 scale, and a quick thought on each one. I share this not to brag, but instead to say “hey, I wasn’t a big fan of reading either, here are some books that made me glad I chose to get back into it.”
- Decision Points by George W. Bush (5/5) - This was a VERY interesting read. Great to read about what happened through the eyes of the guy it actually happened too, instead of all the talking heads.
- Decoded by Jay-Z (4/5) - Ghost-written or not, the only reason this wasn’t rated 5/5 is that it was very obviously written by a hip-hop artist. Still, extremely interesting, and gave me a different perspective of rap.
- Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper (5/5) - I’ve always been an Anderson Cooper fan. His “no BS” attitude on the news is very well explained in this book. I love his “can’t just report from behind a desk” mentality.
- Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow (5/5) - This book has become my manual for hard work. Tebow’s dedication to self-improvement (physically, mentally AND spiritually) is inspiring.
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (5/5) - This was one of the first books I read. After sharing with my friend Jason about my goal, he pretty much required me to read this. My book review in three words: leadership is lonely.
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (4/5) - Another one of the first books I read, this time at the appeal of another friend, Christy. I liked it, although it was difficult to follow at times.
- God in a Cup by Michaele Weissman (5/5) - Insightful look at the driving force behind the “third wave” of coffee. A must for any true coffee fan.
- Jesus, My Father, And the CIA by Ian Morgon Cron (5/5) - The very first book I read in 2012, and also one of my favorites. I love memoirs of interesting people, and this was a great one.
- Untitled by Blaine Hogan (5/5) - A rare exception from my “no self-help” rule. Although I wouldn’t call this that anyway, it definitely helped me re-evaluate how I approach my creative process.
- The Dolce Diet by Mike Dolce (5/5) - Super quick read, but also super helpful. Mike has an insight into healthy eating and weight cutting that has been very influential in how I eat (or, would like to eat).
- Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (2/5) - The ONLY book I stopped reading. I was about halfway done and it was just frustrating. I don’t doubt that people love this book, but for me I couldn’t get past how strangely written it was. I’m looking forward to watching the movie, however.
- American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle (5/5) - Still in progress, about 75% through, and I’ve loved every page. Amazing look into our military, the commitment, dedication, sacrifice and work put into the job. Loving it.
For the record, I’m not stopping once I finish my 12th book sometime today or tomorrow. I’ve got no less than ten more books sitting on my kindle waiting to be read, some that I’m really looking forward to as well. It’s helped that I’ve found my niché for sure (biographies). I’m really glad I made this a priority this year, that’s for certain.