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Why I’m Reading A Book A Month

I don’t make resolutions (click here for all the details).  I don’t like the precedent that self-reflection is a once-a-year activity. Yuck. You should take the time to reflect throughout the year.  Despite my aversion to New Years resolutions, I did spend some time reflecting on the prior year and that’s when I realized I read very, very few books last year. Like maybe four or five.

One of those, a book on de-cluttering, I actually put to some good use:

The fact that I read less than four books the entire year makes me sad. I love books so much that I have a page on  my website that highlights some of my favorite books.   

 How did I go from 40+ books a year to less than 5?

Life kind of happened:

  •  I moved and my new home is a bit of a fixer upper. .
  • I live much closer to friends and family,  which means I have a pretty active social calendar.
  • After a hiatus I took up the violin again.
  • Social media, TV, Social Media, etc.

I am OK with the first three on that list. It’s the last bullet point that bothers me: TV and social media. Those are two HUGE distractions in my life. Part of it is because there are so many damn good TV shows out there. The other problem is that its very easy, thanks to smartphones, to get a fix of both of these: stream the latest to my phone or iPad or spend a “few minutes” checking out the latest on Facebook and Twitter.

Social media is a great tool, its helped me connect with people all over the world and grow my blog audience. But its also very surface. Twitter and Instagram are not the best places to learn about complex issues. They are great for connecting but at some point,  you have to watch a video that’s longer than 30 seconds, pickup a long form article that may take 15 minutes to read or pick up a book to get past the surface, click-bait information.

Its too easy to settle for click-bait headlines to tell us the news of the world or the latest trends in business. To be informed leaders in our workplace and community we have to get past the surface.

The Good News

No. I’m not giving up social media. I’m going to utilize something called will power to get back in the swing of reading books.

That’s why I’m pledging to read at least one book a month. It can be fiction or non-fiction or “literature” (War & Peace? The Brothers Karamazov?). Regardless the genre, I’m reading one book a month. 

This month, I’m reading The Big Sort, its all about shifting demographics in America and our widening political disparities. Although published in 2008, considering the outcome of the last election, I think its still relevant. For those of you who despise reading, you can check out audio books from many public library systems and even sign up for unlimited audio books from Audible

And how am I cutting back on the distractions? It’s called the  “Do Not Disturb” option on your phone and I removed all social media apps from my home screen:

If you are struggling to cut back on the distractions, check out this great article, which includes some helpful tips on getting your attention back.

What about you? Have you read any good books lately? Anything you recommend? Let me know in the comments section! 

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Leanne HoaglandSmith (@CoachLee) January 26, 2017 at 8:33 am

I attempt to read a book every two weeks thought I am a bit behind. The real question is so what are you doing with all that knowledge? Just reading and not applying what you have read is even a more waste of time than not reading unless your goal is to build up your reading speed.

Melissa Fairman January 26, 2017 at 11:18 am

Thanks for the comment! What you do with the knowledge really depends on the topic. I read fiction as well and that is for pure enjoyment.
When I read non-fiction I use it to learn about the world or work.

Ramkumar Yaragarla January 27, 2017 at 3:23 am

Hi Nice article. I am reading a book called “Emergence” from Steven Johnson. I liked your tip on cutting ‘distractions’. We need to learn, to manage distractions. We cannot avoid them. And also on Social media, I liked your point. It is great for connections but less on the knowledge gaining. I guess, there are different kinds of social media niche available.

In social media there is instant gratification. There is reciprocity. People respond to you immediately on your thoughts. Books are different. You got to chew and reflect on the author’s thoughts and opinion.

Books can enrich you. It will expand your mind. Knowing others thoughts and how they met their challenges in their lives can be a great learning experience. That way, blogging is great as well. Getting the flow is difficult. But once you get it, it never stops.
I enjoyed reading through your article. Nice blog posts. Thank you. Cheers, Ramkumar

Melissa Fairman January 27, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Thank you for the comment and book recommendation! I’m adding it to my list!

Vicki February 3, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Hello there. Just found your blog today from Steve Browne’s ‘HR Net’. Based on this first post that I read, I’ll definitely be adding you to my Feedly list. I too am working to make more room for reading in my life, both fiction and non-fiction and fighting the same time demons you mention. The next non-fiction “work” book I’m planning to pick up is Deep Work by Cal Newport. I’ve heard it recommended from at least three different sources in the past few weeks so I’m going to give that one a try. Thanks for sharing your blog.

Melissa Fairman February 9, 2017 at 7:59 pm

I’ve heard great things about Deep Work! Please let me know how you like it! I just finished up The Big Sort and I’m narrowing down my Feb. choice to either “exponential living” or “the real madrid way” I need a short book this month since I’m starting behind! 🙂

10 Year Anniversary Edition! – Carnival of HR February 21, 2017 at 6:58 am

[…] Why I’m Reading a Book a Month – Melissa Fairman – “One of my favorites is a recent article I wrote about reading. It’s interesting that it was such a popular post, I think a lot of people can relate to the comments I made about trying to fight distraction get my focus back.” […]

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