I love to read. I love to read so much; I seldom finish one before I pick the next one. Actually, it’s a bit worse than that. Sometimes I read 2, 3…5 books at the same time.
I used to think this was a problem. I mean, shouldn’t one finish one book first then go to the next? Read sequentially, diligently.
Not according to this new mental framework I am using to evaluate things in my life. The idea that I am perfectly fine the way I am and leveraging that which is most authentic and natural to me to reach my aims. So basically, instead of being dissatisfied at myself for not being what I think I should be, I look at what I am and work with that. If you maximize what already is, you can eventually expand into what is not.
For instance, I like to read a lot, but I also lose interest quickly. I read quite a few blogs daily and I bathe in a constant stream of information and ideas. Shiny new books distract me, and I hunt down, buy and download as much as I can. I used to feel a little guilty when I’d pick up a book and then two weeks down the line realize I’m on a fifth book when I did not go past the 4th chapter in the first one. Then I realize it’s not about the books. No one is going to grade me on how I read books or give me a ribbon for good reading. It’s about ideas, extracting those ideas, and using those ideas.
I read across categories/topics…spirituality, business, psychology, design, success/motivation/self help, and I bump around so this week, I may be more interested in life hacking ideas and so I read some Tim Ferris, or Leo Babauta. Next week, I may want to wax philosophical so I settle into some Alan Watts or some Krishnamurti.
The good thing about reading in this way is that the ideas can cross pollinate in real time. The other week, I was busy digging into 4 books simultaneously – So Good They can’t Ignore You (Cal Newport), 33 Strategies of War (Robert Greene), How to learn anything fast (Josh Kaufman), The Start-Up of You (Reid Hoffman). And I did this intentionally because I was taking a week ‘off’ to think at length about my creative career and how to move things forward. Cal’s book traces the paths of great careers and how one cultivates one, Robert’s book deals with war and lessons learned from the greats, because lets face it, every encounter in the market place, in relationships is a warzone. In the new world, everyone has to think, network and operate like an entrepreneur, hence Reid’s book. And if you want to thrive in this new world, you must master the skill of learning so I’m reading Josh’s book.
The last book I finished was ‘Unlabel’ (Marc Ecko) and that begins to raise another layer of questions on authenticity, embodying your brand, and selling that to the world.
Reading in this way allows me to absorb ideas quickly and slowly begin to link them together and create a best practice, a way of being based on new knowledge that should move me closer and faster to my goal of living a good engaged creative life and providing value.
And that is why I read many books at once, it works for me and it is okay.