How would you like to travel to exotic places – crossing Africa from Cairo to Cape Town, or maybe climbing Mt Everest? Would you like to meet a famous person and learn his secrets of success? Or would you like to be entertained and inspired by a great story?
All this is possible, at very little expense and available in a convenient sized package. Are you interested?
What I am proposing is the book. That’s right – Reading. You may feel let down by my suggestion – particularly if reading reminds you of studying at school or university.
Over the centuries, men and women have written their stories, ideas and experiences in books. Their stories are available to you– and all you have to do is read.
Would you like to meet your hero and learn about his or her life even if they are no longer alive? You can read a biography or better still, to read the person’s own words in an autobiography. You could meet Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, or Nelson Mandela.
I have been inspired by many great biographies. At the moment I am reading a biography of Michael Kirby (“Paradoxes and Principles), retired High Court judge. Last year I read Barack Obama’s “Lessons from my Father” as well as Richard Branson’s “Losing my Virginity”.
You can travel the world through the writings of a good travel writer. Last year I read Paul Theroux’s “Dark Star Safari “ – his account of travelling across Africa from Cairo to Cape Town. Theroux travelled on buses, trucks, boats and trains.
There are many wonderful stories in novels set in different countries and times. Classics like Pride and Prejudice – the story of Elizabeth Bennett in 19th century England. I love modern Japanese fiction and have read most English translations available in Australia.
I am sure you are thinking of many books you could read but you have some objections.
When do I have time to read? I have such a busy life!
Reading doesn’t require hours at a stretch. You can find the time throughout the day. Do you watch television during breakfast. If so, turn it off and read a good book while you eat your cereal and sip your tea.
If you travel on the train or bus, put your mobile phone away and read a book insted. In the evenings on the train, I see a lot of people reading the free MX newspaper for the entire trip! This paper is not news so don’t waste your time on it. Use your commute time wisely and enjoy a good book. You can still relax and be entertained with a book instead of reading celebrity gossip. I am sure you can find small chunks of time throught the day to read.
Books are expensive! They certainly are – but not if you borrow from a library or a friend. If you are not a member of a library, then join up today and browse the incredible range available for free. You can probably borrow books from friends or colleagues, but make sure you read quickly and return the boko promptly.
If you do need to buy a book, you can purchase online from overseas web sites like Abebooks or Book Depository in England. Now that ebook readers are becoming popular, you can buy books in electronic format for reading on a laptop computer, iPhone, smartphone, Kindle or iPad.
What should I read? There’s a world of choice – especially if you visit a library. My advice is to read what you enjoy and are interested in. Ask your friends and colleagues for recommendations.
What would you like to read first? Let me show you some of my favourite books from my library.
I love reading Modern History. I want to understand the past – I want to know what happened in the world, why and the lessons learnt. Last year I read a history of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam Conflict. I also have another history written from the American side by the journalist Stanley Karnow who was present in Vietnam during the conflict.
The most compelling history is written by the people who lived through it – at high school in Year 8 we studied The Diary of Anne Frank . I don’t recall having much connection with this book by a Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam. This changed when I visited her house in Amsterdam – now a museum – and saw the actual place described in her book.
Books are my favourite way to learn. They are inexpensive, portable and I can study at myown pace.
I am sure you have heard of the great Dale Carnegie. His book “How to be successful In Public speaking” is a complete public speaking course conveniently packaged in a book. I paid only $15 for this book in Bangkok airport – but the book is worth far more than that if you read and apply its teachings.
Start reading a good book today – maybe that book is at home, otherwise borrow or buy a book. Books can change your life. But how do you know what book that will be until you have read it?
Update on 18th July 2012: A useful resource for finding interesting books is the Goodreads web site. I wrote a blog article on how I use Goodreads to track my reading, read reviews and find interesting books.