Earlier this year, I wrote the post You Are What You Read in which I discussed the well-documented argument that successful people read
I also talked about my reading plan: For every book I read for pleasure, I will read one book for education.
Since today is New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d share my reading list for the past year and what I learned about myself. Before I do that, though, here’s some additional information I found concerning the value of reading.
One Book, Two Books, Are You Really Reading No Books?
I’ve heard it many times that the average CEO reads four to five books a month. A recent non-fiction book I read, stated anecdotally that the average CEO reads sixty books a year. That’s awesome, I thought, and wanted to link an actual report with those facts. However, I couldn’t find any empirical data on it.
Conversely, I’d also heard multiple times that the average American only reads one book a year. That was always shocking, so I knew I had to link that research. Again, I could never find data to support that claim.
Roughly seven-in-ten American adults (72%) read a book in the previous year. On the surface, that sounds pretty good, right? Even though we are setting the bar low with "a book," seventy-two percent (72%) is still a high number. But think of it the other way, for a moment and you’ll find yourself in awe.
Twenty-seven percent (27%), slightly more than 1/4 of our whole country, didn’t read a book for a year!
By the way, for the math curious, 27% + 72% = 99%. On the Pew Research Survey, 1% actually responded that didn't know if they read a book in the previous year or they refused to answer the question. If you refuse to answer, "Did you read a book last year?" you're a moron. Hell, if you don't know if you did or didn't read a book last year, you're also a moron. This is the 1% of the population we shouldn't strive to be a part of.
Poverty is often blamed on wealth distribution, but a fourth of our population is unwilling to even pick up a book to help themselves? A library card is free, man! There is no barrier to entry for continued learning and/or improvement. Yet, a third of the population won’t take advantage of reading for betterment. It looks like a good chunk of our society is willing to stay mentally stagnant.
The survey also points out that the average number of books read by that 72% was twelve a year. Sounds great, right? That’s one a month. I thought that was awesome info until I looked a little further. The report stated that the median number of books read the previous year was four.
Don’t feel bad if you need a reminder on what a median is. Not everyone deals with math on a daily basis. A median is the midpoint of all collected values – in other words, half of the readers said they read books less than this number and the other half said the read more. It’s a truer representation than “average.” In other words, half the reported readers read less than four books in a year.
That’s one book every three months for half of the reading population (which is 36%, btw)! Are you kidding me? If we asked them how much TV they were watching or how many video games they were playing, would it be equal to their reading level? I'll go out on a limb and say no.
To recap ... 27% of the population doesn't read one book a year. Thirty-six percent (36%) reads less than one book every three months. That's 63% of the population reading less than four (4!) books a year. If successful people read and the majority of the population doesn't, what does that tell you about the American populace in general?
Am I ranting a bit on this subject? You bet. It’s frustrating that, as a community, we send our children through twelve years of schooling to learn how to read and then 27% willingly throws that skill away. Of the remaining 72%, roughly half does just enough to read a book every three months.
Though, I bet they have a great score on Pokemon Go!
Enough ranting. On to the books.
What I Read This Year
I tracked my reading this year and discovered two things.
First, I read a lot less than I expected. I mean, I thought I would have killed it, but after compiling the list, I will readily admit that I was disappointed. I finished the year with thirty (30) books read. That’s 2.5 books a month. Not even a book a week. I can give a few “in my defense” statements, but it would all be B.S. Even though, I’m busy that’s no excuse for not setting time aside for reading. I know I set time aside to binge-watch several Netflix series.
Second, I stuck fairly close to my reading plan of “one book for pleasure, one book for education.” As the year progressed, I bounced back and forth between non-fiction and fiction. Now, a couple of the books on the non-fiction list might seem as a blurred line between pleasure and education. For example, I read Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee (the guy behind Marvel Comics). The book is about an industry leader and how he rose to prominence. Yeah, it deals with how he created some amazingly great comics, but I wanted to read about stick-to-itiveness, creativity and more. That’s why we read biographies of successful people – to be motivated.
I wasn’t perfect with the plan as there are more fiction books than non-fiction. There was a camping trip where I read four crime fiction books in a week. Amazing how much reading you can get done without the interruption of a TV or the internet. Which begs the argument, if I could read four books in a week while camping, why didn't I average a book a week for the year?
Anyway, I’m laying my reading list bare here. You'll see exactly what I put into my head, both fiction and non-fiction. I listed them alphabetically and broke them into fiction / non-fiction lists.
Feel free to ask my input on any of the books. I love talking about books almost as much as I love talking about real estate.
2017 Reading List
1. 4-Hour Workweek, The – Timothy Ferris
2. 10X Rule, The – Grant Cardone
3. ABC’s of Real Estate Investing, The – Ken McElroy
4. Delta Force – Charlie Beckwith
5. Excelsior! The Amazing Life of Stan Lee – Stan Lee and George Maier *
6. Job, The: True Tales from the Life of a New York City Cop – Steve Osborne
7. On Writing – Stephen King *
8. Power of Habit, The – Charles Duhigg
9. Power of Now, The – Eckhart Tolle
10. Rich Habits – Thomas C. Corley
11. Winning Through Intimidation – Robert Ringer *
1. 1984 – George Orwell *
2. Angel Eyes (an Amos Walker novel) – Loren Esteman
3. Beneath a Weeping Sky (a River City novel) – Frank Zafiro *
4. Beyond the Chocolate War - Robert Cormier *
5. Cleaning Up Finn – Sarah M. Chin
6. Cutter and Bone – Newton Thornburg
7. Deep Blue Good-By, The (a Travis McGee novel) – John D. MacDonald *
8. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury *
9. Friends of Eddie Coyle, The – George V. Higgins
10. Godwulf Manuscript, The (a Spenser novel) – Robert B. Parker
11. Heroes Often Fail (a River City novel) – Frank Zafiro *
12. Hunter, The (a Parker novel) – Richard Stark *
13. Impossible Fortress, The - Jason Rekulak
14. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
15. On the Road – Jack Kerouac
16. Under a Raging Moon (a River City novel) – Frank Zafiro *
17. Last Collar, The – Frank Zafiro & Lawrence Kelter
18. Second Life of Nick Mason, The – Steve Hamilton
19. We Live in Water – Jess Walter
* indicates a multiple reading. I freely admit I like to occasionally re-read books that I've enjoyed in the past, much the same way as watching you might re-watch a movie.
So how about it - did you read more or less than I did? I'd love to be crushed by your reading list. Let me know!