This unpretentious book, by Levenger founder Steve Leveen, is well worth the read.
It is divided into three main sections: 1. Why Read and What to read 2. the beauty of audiobooks 3. Book Clubs
The first section is by far the one that inspired me the most. In the second one, audiobooks, Leveen preaches to a Choir for anyone, like me, who is already a member of Audible. Audiobooks are a wonderful way to get more books into your life, and don’t let anyone tell you they aren’t as dignified as “proper” books. The third section was not very useful to me, since I am not keen to join any book club. To me, reading is a very personal quest, and finding the right reading buddies can be very difficult. I doubt you can find them in your local reading club, but if you are lucky, I am sure it is a great and enriching experience.
Getting back to the gem of the book, the first section, Steve Leveen makes a fantastic point: when you set up a list of your candidates of books, your are not simply planning your future readings: you are planning your future. I am not going to go as far as to say that “you are what your read”, but I can certainly agree with Mr Leveen when he argues that books and life complement each other, and that the most active and engaged people are often the most passionate readers. Steve Leveen destroys the popular perception that readers are nerds that live in a world of fantasy – people that read in lieu of living. Quite to the contrary, he points out that reading is preparation for a more rich and rewarding life – be it by learning about gardening, history, holiday destinations or home improvement.
Thus, for Leveen, making a list of your future reading candidates is like making a list of your future goals. While compiling your lists, you are actually asking yourself: what do I want to learn? who do I want to become? what skill do I want to acquire? what dreams to I want to pursue?
A key concept is that you should feel absolutely no obligation to read or even to finish anything on your reading list. Candidates are simply there to tease and tempt you, and when the moment will be ripe, you will savor this or that book.
It is impossibile that every book you choose to read will please you. Mr Leveen makes a very good point in suggesting that we abandon a book if, after a few dozen pages, it doesn’t connect with us. There are so many exciting books out there, why waste time toiling with something that bores or alienates us? Starting books that we don’t like is part of the process of being a good reader, and we should never feel guilty when we abandon a book midstream, no matter how highly touted it is by prestigious reviewers.
Finally, I love Steve Leveen’s concept of a well-read life. It is not about having read the “must-read” classics, or the latest best-seller. To be well-read, according to the author, is to be able to answer the following question on a consistent basis: “are you reading something interesting lately?”. If you can always answer with enthusiasm, you are into “book lust”, an indescribable feeling that makes your life so much richer and meaningful, almost like romantic love. To be well-read is simply to able to be in the state of “book lust” time and time again.
I would highly recommend Leveen’s work to anyone that is looking at boosting his or her motivation to read more and with more scope and enthusiasm. Even if you don’t read the book, I would encourage you to start drafting your list of candidates now, perhaps using the Amazon.com “Wish lists”, that are very easy to use and can contain virtually any book in print in the English language. The simple act of drafting those lists and adding to them on a daily/weekly basis might motivate you to reading more, in more subjects. More importantly, as Leveen so aptly states, it will bring “not only more books into your life, but more life from your books.