My Addiction to Nonfiction

A few years ago I started reading nonfiction books. The first one I remember reading was the classic How To Win Friends and Influence People. I remember feeling as if my eyes opened a little more and I was able to see things more clearly.

That was back in 2007 or 2008, yet I still remember several of the key principles of the book. Immediately after reading the book, I began implementing some of the ideas in my classes and saw a remarkable shift in my students. One key idea I’ll never forget is for each of us, our name is the sweetest sound on earth. Because of that, I made a point to call each student by his or her first name every single day. That may sound trivial, but I know that before thinking about it, some of my students would go days without ever hearing me say their name aloud.

Since reading Dale Carnegie’s classic, I started reading a little more. I read another classic— Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I followed that up a few books later with The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. Then I heard two great ideas that revolutionized my thinking toward reading:

1. “The books you don’t read won’t help.”   -Jim Rohn

2. “Information costs but it pays for itself.”   -Les Brown

Since then, I’ve read hundreds of books— books that have influenced every aspect of my life from finances, fitness, spiritual growth, education, marriage, relationships, business, leadership, and personal development. I’ve kept my notes and highlights in an Evernote notebook and I refer back to the key ideas that have helped me grow along the way.

Book Notes (Evernote for Mac)

My Book Notes (Evernote for Mac)

The more I’ve read, the more I’ve wanted to read. Even today with three young kids running around, I read just as much as (if not more than) I did before we had kids.

But not everyone is like that. I wasn’t even like that for the first 26 years of my life.

In Tim Sanders’ book Today We Are Rich, he writes, “According to a 2007 Market Tools Survey I conducted, the average businessperson reads about one book a year related to his or her profession. The average chief (CEO, COO, CFO, etc.) reads six books in the same period.” I’ve also heard him say that the average American reads one book every five years.

My question is Who wants to be average?

Reading nonfiction is powerful. It can open our minds and get our creativity rolling. It can cause us to see things in a new light. It can challenge us, shape us, and encourage us. I’ve noticed the right books come into my life at just the right moment, and I don’t take it lightly. Just last week a student asked me if I had read any of Jon Gordon’s books. Not only had I never read a Jon Gordon book, I’d never even heard of the guy! Over the next three days, I heard at least three other people mention his books to me. I’m currently reading one of his books now and it’s exactly what I needed to read at exactly the right moment in my life!

For all of us to grow, we need to read.

If we’re parents, we need to be reading books like Boys Should Be Boys or Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters (both by Meg Meeker) to help us along the way.

If we have financial concerns, we need to be reading books like The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.

If we’re struggling with negativity, we need be reading books like The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon.

If we’re leaders, we need to be reading books like the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell. 

If we’re school administrators, we need to be reading books like What Great Principals Do Differently by Todd Whitaker.

Educators especially should be reading about teaching trends and reading about dealing with this generation of kids or dealing with their parents. They should be reading books to add enthusiasm and excitement into our classrooms. If we want to continually improve, we need to read.

If it’s been a while since you read a nonfiction book related to your profession, let me challenge you to find one and start today. Get two copies and give one to a friend to read and share ideas. Remember what Jim Rohn said:  “The books you don’t read won’t help.”


In the comments below, share a nonfiction book that has influenced you the most professionally. 

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