Reading to Improve Your Life

How does your life change?

Through the people you meet and the books you read.

The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect different results.  So, when there are things broken in my life, I work to find books to help.  My itouch is full of things that I'm listening to and usually there's at least 1-2 nonfiction and at least 1 fiction book that are in my reading stack at all times.

Here are some thoughts on reading:

  1. Attach reading to times of year –

    My husband and I always read a book on relationships every February. 

    Every April — we read books on Finance and money management.  In the toughest times of year — mid fall and right now — I reread How to Win Friends and Influence People.

    Usually in the spring I read an organizing book so I'll be ready for summer (Like Sink Reflections) and in the Fall on Family and Traditions. 

    Think about the areas of your life you want to improve and what time of year will jog your memory to read a certain type of book so that you'll get at least one a year.

  2. Seek out Biographies of Interesting People from the Past

    Some of my favorite books are random biographies such as Ten fingers for God – the biography of Dr. Paul Brand who discovered the cure for leprosy; anything by or about Corrie Ten Boom, A Man Called Peter by Catherine Marshall.  Right now I'm listening to a biography of Winston Churchill called The Last Lion.  Books like the Agony and the Ecstasy about Michelangelo help you realize that sometimes talent is a curse to those who possess it.

    To me, reading biographies teaches me about history and that every period on this planet has a unique set of struggles.  We all wish we could KNOW Abraham Lincoln or Ghandi but who wants to BE them!  But you know what — we need that type of person.  How do you know what type of person they really were unless you read and learn about them.  Just watching movies isn't enough because in the movies rarely are their corners turned that are dead ends and we somehow think that all lives are so fast paced, when in reality those who are greatest often go through amazing, heartbreaking struggles.

    Oh, to be the kind of person who makes a difference on this planet!  To improve it and make a difference!  But to do that we must focus and make a difference where we are and do the small things that help us contribute greatly!  Nowadays I think one of the greatest things we can do is to write and share via a blog – it is just a great way to connect.

  3. Read SOME popular books but don't spend all your time on those

    You know, I'm not usually the FIRST one to inhale a popular book.  Really, I like to let others to that — but once I hear it enough places I will go pick it up and read it, particularly if it is influencing the thought of the world at large.  Wikinomics is one of my favorite books, but it is also fun to pick up some popular books of the past to help you learn to spot charlatans and the wise of today.  Futureshock was a great book in the 1980's which had many great things to say about the future that did come true.  Understanding change is so important and is one of those things that fascinates me.

  4. Find the “stories”

    Books like Everyday Greatness or other books that compile and tell many stories of people are always on my own bookshelf.  Our heroes in this society are often the wrong people – they are famous people but not necessarily GREAT people.  We have many GREAT people among us like Stephen Downes and David Warlick and Kristin Hokanson and Julie Lindsay and Jo McLeay and Terry Freedman and Steve Madsen and Anne Mirtschin and Barbara Stefanics and Salim al Busaidi and Kyle Gomboy and Beth Kanter and Angela Maiers and Scott Meech and Peggy Sheehy and Kevin Jarrett and Cheryl Oakes, Alice Barr, and Bob Sprankle and Silvia Tolisano and Chris Craft  and Kim Cofino and Vinnie Vrotny and Minhaaj ur Raman and Beth Ritter-Guth — so many people and this list could go on and on — these are people who work very very hard but also take time to share.  Sometimes I enjoy hearing their stories just ofor the sake of the story!  There are great old stories and books and great new stories on blogs!

  5. Read as a Habit

    When the day is over and I'm worn out, I head to the bathtub – my family knows that a hot bath makes me human at the end of the day and sometimes that hot bath becomes quite frigid if I'm engrossed in a book.  I love Beth Moore's books and am often reading one of hers or just a fun Clive Cussler.  But there is something about reading that just helps me relax.

    When reading news, if I'm not on my computer in the old trusty iGoogle reader – I love the USA Today and NY Times Apps which give you a creative way to read the news.  Reading unlocks the power of your mind and keeps it agile and moving.

  6. Read for Fun

    I love a mind numbing, technology enriched, spy novel where some brawny or sometimes lithe spy hero saves the world but no one knows it!  We all have our types of books to read but I know summer has started when I've finished my first book!  Figure out what is fun to read and read it — keep one on your shelf from the library or swap books with friends like my sisters and I often do.

  7. Read for a Laugh

    I love Uncle John's Bathroom Readers because they have some funny clips from history and other stories.  Sometimes just reading these will get my mind to go in a different direction.  Ever been hungry for a joke but didn't know one — seeking them out often helps me have personal breakthroughs in creativity. 

  8. Read for Change

    When I am heartbroken over a flaw – whether it is in my money management, struggle to get organized, desire to speak and write books and do it well — those are books that I get and read and inhale – those books I keep as they are marked up and noted.  I like to make notes in the front cover of the ACTION items that will come from that book.  If you want to change, you have to more than just read, you have to determine your goals and actions from that book and if you choose to believe the expert you're reading.  Sometimes “experts” just sound good (like the motivational speaker in “Yes Man”) but are full of “hooey” as my husband says – so use common sense but realize that if you're screwing up, it is because you don't quite know how to solve that problem yet.

I dream. One day, perhaps mine will be the book someone picks up – but until then — read read read.  Not just online but a book as well.  Every project that Julie and I do has a book as part of the basis for the work because we want students to understand that there are many varieties of great sources of books INCLUDING those on paper.

These are just some fun thoughts about how I read personally — my favorite book?  My marked up, dog eared, beautiful, noted NIV Bible which greets me each morning with fresh wisdom and insight!  What a way to start the day!

Many of us read online and that is great – but to me — I'll always have my books as some of my most cherished and dearest “friends” on this planet!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Tara May 2, 2009 - 2:59 pm

Thank you for writing this post. It is a fabulous guide to inspire people to read. I may just edit out the February suggestion:) and share it with my students.

Cheryl Oakes July 28, 2009 - 9:23 am

This is pretty funny, it has taken me months to get to this post because of all the reading I had to be involved with at work. However, this summer I have read many books! I tool love the feel of a book and how it becomes my friend as I sit and read.I read this line yesterday and thought it was so moving because it described perfectly what it must be like to struggle to understand the words coming off the page to your brain. Keep reading!

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