I’m often asked how I read a book AND how I pick the books I read.
In fact, I was asked this question in one of our recent Heroic Coach Soul Force Forge sessions in which I have 1-on-1 coaching sessions with our Coaches in a group environment. (These sessions are among the highlights of my month!)
Today I’d like to chat about that for a moment or three.
In a recent Zoom, I had an opportunity to connect with Franco—an incredibly inspiring 19-year-old Argentinian Heroic optimizer who is going through our Coach certification program.
Franco told me that he was getting an ARETÉ tattoo for his 20th birthday (🤯!!) and then asked me how I read a book.
I kinda went off.
Here’s the video clip of our time together.
And, here’s the short story…
The most important part of how to read a book, from my perspective, is to make sure you’re reading THE RIGHT BOOK.
If you’re reading a book because you think you “have to” or because everyone else is reading it but… You’re not THAT into it, then… Well… Good luck with that. It’s going to be a bit of a slog and you may find your self x pages into another book but never finishing it.
Of course, sometimes we need to read a book for school or for our jobs or whatever—in which case, we’d be wise to remove all ambivalence and GO ALL IN and act like that book you need to read is the most exciting book you could ever possibly read. (Seriously.)
Assuming we’re talking about a situation in which our reading list is not assigned to us, the first thing I do is follow Joseph Campbell’s wisdom.
In The Power of Myth, he tells us: “Sit in a room and read—and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning rapture all the time. This realization of life can be a constant realization in your living. When you find an author who really grabs you, read everything he has done. Don’t say, ‘Oh, I want to know what So-and-so did’—and don’t bother at all with the best-seller list. Just read what this one author has to give you. And then you can go read what he had read. And the world opens up in a way that is consistent with a certain point of view. But when you go from one author to another, you may be able to tell us the date when each wrote such and such a poem—but he hasn’t said anything to you.”
That’s the way to do it.
And, that’s what I’ve done for the better part of the last 15-20 years now.
In my 20s and early 30s, I started with Dan Millman. And Paulo Coelho. And Wayne Dyer. I’ve read nearly everything those guys have written. (Check out the Notes by clicking on the link for each author.)
More recently, I’ve read almost everything written by Steven Pressfield, Ryan Holiday, and Cal Newport.
Then there’s my old coach Steve Chandler and my beloved Yoda Phil Stutz.
Then there’s Joseph Campbell himself. And one of my all-time favorite teachers, Eknath Easwaran—who I consider to be, in many ways, the Indian version of Campbell. In fact, I’ve created the MOST Notes on Easwaran and his great books. Nine of them so far. His translations of the Gita and Dhammapada in particular are 🤯!
Most recently, I followed this thread with Michael Singer.
Not too long ago, I read his latest book called Living Untethered. It’s INCREDIBLY good.
We previously featured The Untethered Soul, which I really liked, but after reading his latest book, Singer is now one of my new favorite teachers.
After finishing that book, I immediately got three other books he’s written—including a couple he wrote nearly 50 years ago.
In one of THOSE books he thanked Yogananda for being the deepest influence of his life.
So what did I do?
I immediately got HIS classic An Autobiography of a Yogi.
Then I learned that Steve Jobs gave An Autobiography of a Yogi to everyone who attended his memorial service as THE final gift on their way out. (Goosebumps)
Then I went back to Amazon and bought a half dozen more of Yogananda’s books (/booklets) all of which are 🤯!!
Notes on all those coming soon.
All that to say…
That’s one powerful way I pick the books I’m going to read—which is, again, in my mind, one of the most important things to consider in terms of how to read a book.
In our next +1, I’ll tell you more about how I actually read the book once I’ve decided to read it.
Here’s to that nice, mild, slow-burning rapture we get connecting with wisdom from a brilliant soul.
Day 1. All in.
P.S. Here’s a quick look at the books I recently got. 🤓
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