Every now and again, I run into the writings of Ryan Holiday. (Here’s his web site).
Ryan is not a good writer. He is a very good writer. And, he is pretty eclectic. He writes about a lot of subjects.
One of the things he writes about is reading books. And I read books. We each read a pretty large number of books. Of course, there are others that read more – Ryan probably reads more books than I do.
And, lately, as I read books and prepare synopses for the First Friday Book Synopsis, I have begun to notice something that I probably should have been paying more attention to all along. Many of the authors that I read read plenty of books. And, they sprinkle their own books with references to many of the books they have read. This is especially true of: Jim Collins; Peter Thiel; the author I am presenting tomorrow, Kip Tindell (Uncontainable). And others that, at this moment, have slipped my mind.
(Here’s a “funny” observation – Peter Thiel is advocating something of a “you don’t need to go to college” philosophy. This from a guy with a plenty of degrees, including a Law Degree; and his book Zero to One is interspersed with ideas and quotes from books he surely read while in college).
Now, here’s the dilemma. Every time I read about a book someone has read, I think to myself: “I’ve read that book – yes, it is good,” or, “I haven’t read that book. I need to read it.” And so, I either feel good…, or guilty.
More often than not, it’s the guilty feeling that dominates. There are so many books I have not gotten around to!
Recently, I met a woman who learned I have presented synopses of business books for over 17 years. (I have presented a comprehensive synopsis of one business book each month since April, 1998. That’s quite a number of books!) So, she asked me if I had presented synopses of two specific books – favorites of hers. My colleague Karl Krayer had presented one of them; I had not heard of the other one. (Karl and I each present one book synopsis a month).
Yep, the feelings of guilt came yet again.
So, I have made an internal decision. I’m going to quit feeling such guilt. Maybe I read enough books. (Yes, I read more books than just the books I choose to present). I always have my next couple of books going.
And no, I haven’t read every book that you think is the best.
And, you know what — you haven’t read very book that I think is the best, either.
And by the way, if we had each read each other’s “best” selections, we wouldn’t agree on “these are the best books” list anyway…
Maybe the real message is… read more books. Pick out books that someone, including some reviewer (who is not the best friend of the author) thinks is worth your time. And for those books you have not gotten to, and may never get to… well, just relax.
By the way, have you read the book _____________ – you’ve got to read it!!! (Yes, I do in fact have my own recommended list. I won’t load you down with it now – I’ll save you the guilt).