Why We Still Need Books

There are lots of reasons to read things online.  It's a fast way to consume information.  With smartphones in almost everyone's hand, reading has never been easier.  We have:

  • Google Plus posts
  • Articles on news sites
  • Blog posts
  • Facebook posts

And so it goes.  Many people will also advocate for reading online since "online" is now increasingly mobile.  I can read the New York Times on my iPhone while on the train.   

  • And while I'm waiting in the line at the grocery store...
  • And in the five minutes before my next meeting starts... 
  • And while my kids are finishing up their volleyball practice... 

This is all good.  Or, is it?  Having long been a digital learner, I've advocated for as much reading as possible but recently I had an experience which caused me to shift slightly.  The fact is, if I'm honest, I really haven't been reading contemplatively at all.

Let me explain. 

Confession here: I hadn't read a full book in about six months.  Don't get me wrong- I've been reading like crazy since I'm a doctoral student.  Articles, snippets, textbooks, etc.  Lots of reading. Research.  Writing.  More research.  

But not full books and certainly not for pleasure. 

And then something changed.  Somehow I heard about Brad Lomenick's The Catalyst Leader.   The book is really good- down to earth advice from a man who is humbly leading an organization that impacts lives.  What was more surprising was that I really had to discipline myself to read each day.  

You may now be thinking- what's the big deal?  The guy read a book, ok... but be honest with yourself and look in the mirror.  How many full length books have you read in the past two months?  

Turns out, some 75% of Americans have read a book in the past twelve months.  That's good. I just wasn't one of them.  Here are some benefits of complimenting your online reading with full length book reading:

  1. Daily book reading slows you down.
  2. Book reading imprints a book's idea more firmly in your head than a blog post or tweet.
  3. Full length books make you more contemplative.

If you aren't yet a full length book reader, here are my suggestions:

  • Choose a reading time.  This is probably best done early in the morning or right before bed.
  • Go for a little each day.  Like a diet, some is better than none and it makes sense to chip away a little at a time.
  • Reflect on what you're reading.  This could be in a journal or via your blog.

We still need books.  They teach us amazing things, connect us to amazing authors and just might help us become amazing people.