One Thing Leads To Another - The Reading Life

by Randy Murray on June 13, 2011

I recently got around to reading Michael Chabon’s Gentlemen of the Road. I’ve had it sitting in the pile of books by my chair in my office for ages. I love Chabon’s work, but this one just didn’t hold much interest for me. I thought it only a fair work.

But Chabon is no slouch. And his story included the Khazars, a truly lost civilization, and he was using it in a very interesting way in the story. That brought me to pull one of my favorite books off the shelf, Milorad Pavic’s Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel.  This is a true masterwork, a beautiful piece of writing, even in translation. And it’s a book you can pick up, open it at any spot, and find something delightful, mysterious, and thought-provoking.

When someone asks me why I’m reading any current book I often say, “because I just read this other book and it lead me to this.”

The other day my daughter was having me create some audio books from CDs and while at the library I saw they also had the Aubrey-Maturin novels from Patrick O’Brian. I took home the first three, made audio books out of them, then tested the first by listening for a bit. I soon had the book off the shelf and I’m now seven books in again, my third time through. In these excellent novels I’m in the age of fighting sail with the British Navy. I’m in the thick of the Napoleonic wars. I’m immersed in wonderful language and skillful writing. And because of these books I also found myself reading books about Napoleon, the British army in the Spanish campaign, Wellington, US/French relationships, Joseph Banks (one of the first great botanists and scientists), Australia, and the list goes one. So many fascinating things. Such a big, interesting world.

For me, reading is lifeblood. I don’t read because I think it will make me smarter. I don’t read because I think it will help me in business. I don’t read books because of an educational requirement.

I read books because I love to read.

And as a side result, I’m smarter, better in business, and more fully educated about the world.

People asks me how I got to be a successful writer. I tell them, “in part, because I’m a voracious reader.”

If you only read business or motivational books I’m betting that you’re a pretty uninteresting person. One note. Boring. If you don’t read history or science or novels I’m betting that you have a very narrow, biased, and broken view of the world. But if I go to your house and see shelves filled with books of all types, multiple books on many topics, I’m betting that you’re someone that I’d like to have dinner with.

And talk about, well, anything.

If you don’t read at all you’re depriving yourself of one of the truly great human experiences.


The One Thing Leads To Another - The Reading Life by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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Jim Raffel June 13, 2011 at 8:34 am

After about two years of reading only business and motivational books I circled back to novels earlier this year. I burned through a 12 book spy thriller series. Loved the mental relaxation it provided. I’m working on a Ben Franklin book now. And yes I still read business and motivational books. You’re right. It’s about becoming a balanced person. :)


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