On the need to read

It always surprises me, no matter how many times I hear it, when people tell me they don’t read books anymore. I wrote a novel a couple years back. I asked some friends to give it a read and provide feedback. One of my friends told me, “I’d love to read it, but I haven’t read a book in 20 years.” My wife will read it though. (She did read it, and gave some great, impassioned feedback.)

Seth Godin had a good post a few days ago which inspired this one.

In our Blog Blitz! workshops, I always stress the importance of reading. One of the best ways to become a better writer is to read books. Reading blogs is not enough because blogs are not always written by good writers. (Sorry, but it’s true.)

I occasionally come across blogs endowed with downright bad writing by people who say they want to make blogging their career. I would never discourage anyone from attempting to reach their dreams or goals. Instead, I tell people to read more. The best way to gain loyal readers is to write great content.

Some people advise that if you are writing non-fiction, your reading should be non-fiction. I think it’s better to strike a balance between both fiction and non-fiction. They both expand our minds, but fiction is more adept at engaging our imagination. Non-fiction opens your mind to new ideas of a more practical or utilitarian nature.

Currently on my reading shelf is Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds, which is reinforcing my deep-seeded belief that PowerPoint/Keynote template presentation slides suck, while Jack Karouac’s The Dharma Bums is keeping me joyfully entertained. I’m learning a thing or two as well. And that’s the point.

Learning happens best when we are reading. Not when we are watching television, or Hulu, or YouTube. Do I still watch YouTube and Hulu? Sure, on occasion when I have a desperate need to fall asleep on the couch and strain my neck, but I am fully aware that I am not learning much while watching the tube. I prefer having an active brain most of the time, so when it’s time to sleep, I crack open a book and read until my eyelids droop.

Lately, Seth Godin’s Free Prize Inside has claimed the dubious honor of putting me to sleep each night. It’s a great read though! Highly recommended.

Kelly Hobkirk - teaching marketers how to harness strategy, goals, reality, and purpose to connect and do better work.


Kelly Hobkirk has been helping companies succeed in creative ways for nearly 25 years. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, and books by Rockport and Rotovision. Get exclusive articles when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.

Thank you! This is going to feel good.

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