Books mean different things to different people. It’s especially true for those of us who love reading. Each book leaves its own imprint, and sometimes the same book has a massively varied affect if you read it at different stages in life. But I believe that despite all the variations, overall, reading has strong positive influence over everyone. I asked a bunch of different people, including best-selling novelists, A-list bloggers, editors, artists and non-fiction writers, this one question:
How has reading/literature contributed to reaching higher towards your individual potential?
After all, that’s what this blog is about. Through Kaizen Reading, I’m making a claim that literature helps you move forward towards your potential. I’m pleased to say that I’m not the only one who thinks so.
Let’s hear from these bunch of inspiring and amazing people:
Reading so much inspired a love of writing which is what I do today and I absolutely love. I would not have the desire to create my own writing had I not been inspired by things that I had read.
I think it goes without saying that reading contributes towards a person realising their potential. The knowledge you gain from other people’s writing is a valuable education. From the best writers you gain experience too, as it feels as if you actually walk the lands they write of, be they invented or of this real world. Books are inspiring in many ways, not least because they can lead you to investigate a subject further, thereby increasing your knowledge and giving you ideas, perhaps about a new direction in life. Reading as a child is what led me to want to be a writer, along with having a story-telling gene!
Reading has let me be taught directly by the greatest minds that have ever lived; I’ve connected to their wisdom, their lives, their thoughts, and their ideals–and that has made me a better person.
Reading opened all kinds of doors for me when I was stuck in a very small corner of the world, wanting to know more but unable to see it directly. Now that I am able to see those things, reading allows me to continue to expand my mind and expectations, giving me a better idea of what I should try to learn next, and how.
For me, reading poetry affirms the spirit and helps it endure and flourish. No other genre reaches me the way poems do. When I read them, I live inside an other’s heart, a heart that has expanded to include my my own..
Fiction has allowed me to imagine worlds far beyond my horizon, imagine heroes greater than I could ever be, and to dream of things far beyond my reality. I grew up in a small town and never knew how big the universe was…but I could feel it. Imaginative literature opened my eyes and made me dream big.
I’m only the storyteller I am today because of the countless books I read growing up. From imagery to vocabulary to the beats of a well told tale, I owe books nearly everything I ever have, including my wife and children since books taught me all about “happily ever after.”
Reading literature of every sort, from transitory entertainment to masterpieces enduring from the Ancient World shows me time and again how different the world can look through other people’s eyes. This has always prompted me to ask
questions of my own perceptions and assumptions. As a writer that sets me the challenge of continually exploring and sharing my understanding through my own work.
Reading non-fiction has helped refine a lot of what I’m trying to do. You can only learn a little bit by thinking, but a lot by reading. It’s like getting access to the best minds in the world! I’ve built my personal philosophy by reading others’ philosophy books.
And books provide inspiration for new blog posts
Reading teaches me about genre, pacing, characterization…everything. Every writer I meet is a lover of books, if not a complete bookworm. The more I read and am exposed to various genres and styles, the stronger I write.
Reading also factors into my level of vocabulary, grammar, knowledge, and emotion, which I’ve applied to many areas of my life. Literature strengthens me and ups my potential in numerous ways.
Well, considering I grew up to be a fantasy author, I’d say it had a pretty big impact overall. I’ve been reading and loving books for as long as I can remember. Books are hope and possibility and connection and escape and inspiration. Take away our stories, and what’s left is an empty shell, forgotten as soon as you turn away.
Short answer: they’ve helped me grow and learn and become who I am today. I’m very pro-book.
I’ve always been an avid reader. Books have allowed me to travel, have adventures, solve mysteries, fall in love, explore cultures and religions, and most of all, to treasure imagination. Books have been friends in good times, escapes in bad times. And because I read, I scored high on my college verbal exams. I sure didn’t get into college on my math scores!
Reading helped me dream of and achieve my scholastic goals, and it reading continues to help me be a writer!
It’s created a convergence of ideas for me. When I read many books the ideas cross pollinate and that gives me a much richer understanding of the world we live in today. It also makes me understand behaviour a lot better and how things affect me and my customers.
Reading keeps me engaged, excited and inspired about my life. Books are so accessible – with many under $10 (especially now that e-books are so readily available) I find that I can always find the comfort, wisdom, perspective and entertainment I’m looking for. Ever since I was a little kid, books have been my biggest teacher and inspiration, and many have made a profound impact on my life. Second to breathing, reading is a major source of oxygen in my life.”
I cannot remember when reading wasn’t a core part of my very existence. I started reading at an early age and from what my parents tell me, I was a voracious reader, sometimes reading the same books a dozen times or more. There wasn’t a holiday that went by when I didn’t get at least six books from my family.
When I got old enough to earn my own money, I started building my personal library. At its peak, I owned well over a thousand books — so many, in fact, that I really couldn’t read them all. To this day, I have boxes of books crowding my garage and my bookshelves in my house, but I’ve now moved to mostly e-books. Of course, with those I now download more books than I could ever read in a hundred lifetimes, but that’s fine with me
Reading has helped develop my vocabulary, my knowledge of so much of the world, my appreciation for the arts; but most importantly, reading fiction, especially great literature, has helped my find my own voice as a writer while at the same time learning to appreciate the voice of others. Any author worth his or her salt must be a bibliophile or risk writing stale, dull and unloved books and stories.
I believe that books are the key to everything. Whether it’s researching something practical like where to go to college, how to renovate a house, or what to do when you’re diagnosed with an illness; or broadening your horizons by visiting other worlds and seeing them through a writer’s eyes. Reading expands not only your mind, but your heart and soul. It stretches your imagination and improves your store of knowledge. And for me personally, it was and always will be a source of true magic. A way to move from one world to another effortlessly—be it Jane Austen’s England, Robert Ludlum’s spies, or C.S. Lewis’s Narnia.
I can’t imagine ever being without reading. It’s one of the first enjoyable activities you learn in life, and it stays with you all the way. Without reading fiction I would never have wanted to be a writer – that sounds rather obvious, even trite, but sometimes the truth is prosaic. When you start writing you unconsciously echo the style of your most loved authors and it can be embarrassing to go back and read such juvenilia, but one day – with practice – you will find your own style and your own voice. That is when you truly become a writer – and it is largely thanks to those you have imitated that you have got where you are now. And maybe future writers will be inspired by you.
Books has been a part of my life since I was small. I still remember my father reading me The Wizard of Oz every night before bed. And I also remember my older sister reading to me, which made me so jealous that she could read and I couldn’t. Sibling rivalry pushed me to learn to read earlier than my friends and once I started, I couldn’t stop! Reading has not only brought me many hours of entertainment, but I’ve learned quite a bit over the years.
From reading, I’ve learned how to hook a reader from the first page of a book and how to keep my plot moving so my readers stay up all night. I’m an instinctual writer, I don’t plan out my chapters, but when I reach a certain point, I stop. I think that was learned from the many books I’ve read over the years. Also by keeping up with my colleagues’ books, I get a sense of what story lines work and what is currently being done (or overdone) which helps me find a fresh perspective or idea. I’m also inspired by wonderful stories. And I must admit, with books I find lacking in skill and complex characters, I’m motivated to ensure my books doesn’t have the same issues.
Books will continue to be a big part of my life. I’m proud to say, I passed on my love of reading to my daughter and hope she will also be inspired and motivated by books.
Jeez, that’s really difficult , difficult in that I can’t separate out my experience of literature from who I am. I mean, I read the Hobbit when I was seven, and haven’t really looked back. Most of my adult life I’ve been involved in writing of some kind or another. There are doubtless hundreds of individual moments that are relevant to your question, and to shaping me as a person, but I think the simple answer to this is, without literature I wouldn’t be who I am.
I’ve taught myself since the age of ten with wonderful tutors on the way…from reading all sorts of imagination tales…my published books are the icing on my cake…years ago my grandparents would read poetry to me every Sunday…I’ve been blessed to have different educated aunts, uncles and cousins to learn from…I’m still learning and always will…the world is always changing with dialogues of the next generation…we all need to be patient and understand our way of individual thinking and life would be a greater place.
By reading the best books and stories I could find, and comparing them to the merely saleable, I knew where to set my goals, and rarely in ever to be fully satisfied with what was good enough to sell.
Reading has played a huge role in my ability to reach higher towards my individual potential. I have become an avid reader – mainly of non-fiction works – and much of what I read has helped me shape my ideas around productivity, workflow, and task management. Reading has helped me get out of my own head, which has allowed me to go beyond where I’ve been and reach new heights. Reading has made me a better writer, and that aspect alone has made a huge difference in my home and work life.
Well, being as I’ve ended up being a writer, an enormous amount! Books and literature are as wonderful as they are important. They’re good for the mind and they’re good for the soul. They make you wiser and a better person because, in reading, you’re exposing yourself to new things and other people’s opinions, thoughts, lifestyles, cultures. The list is endless, just like the number of books there are out there. And those are very good things indeed.
I grew up in a fairly poor working class environment. No one in our family had ever travelled abroad, or stayed on at school beyond the compulsory years. For me, while young, my view of the world and the possibilities it contained came from books. I used to haunt the library, taking out as many books as were permitted and devouring and returning them as soon as I could, in order to be allowed to take out more.
Because of my childhood love of reading, I discovered there was a world to explore and, if I wanted it, a different life to live. Reading gave me the life I have today.
I always say that you become a mix of the people you spend the most time with and the books that you read. If I wouldn’t have read the personal development, business and biography books I’ve read the past five years there is no way I’d be where I’m at today. Reading leads to succeeding.
Like a lot of people, my childhood had some dark times. I’m sure I’m not the only one who found refuge in books. The local library was a safe haven, a niche that always felt warm and welcoming. It hardly mattered what I was reading, but through books, I learned that there was so much in the world: different places, better times, and in truth, worse ones. I learned the world was full and rich, and that people and situations would change. Sometimes for better, sometimes not, but when I felt lost, confused, or alone, books gave me hope. They still do.
I started reading at a very young age, and never stopped. As a child I slept with at least two or three books under my pillow, so that they were always as close as they could be. Thinking back, I have no idea how I managed to sleep, but it does go some way to explaining my bad neck.
The reading also explains my personality. I read comedy, fantasy, and a little horror, and it left me an optimistic dreamer with a dark sense of humour. It also encouraged me to create my own characters and worlds through writing, though it took a good few years before I found the nerve to begin.
Fed by a constant stream of new worlds and ways of thought, I have grown into who I am, and it stands to reason that those words are at least partially responsible for my confidence, my wit, and my need to reach for things just out of my grasp.
I may not be the smartest man, or the funniest, or the most successful, but without reading and writing I would be so much less.
I can’t remember any part of my life without remembering key pieces of literature that I experienced during each time, and my entire philosophy of life has been formed and shaped largely by the books that I’ve read. In that respect, you could say that books have made me who I am. Reading mysteries taught me to be curious, and look for the subtle clues all around us and action/adventure books taught me that even if you’re afraid, if you jump in and do what you know is right, things generally work out in the end. Westerns taught me that being tough should be tempered with caring about and helping others. Science fiction novels taught me that anything is possible, and drama, romance and literary works have all taught me about what it means to be human and how we relate to each other. The writings of philosophers and politicians from around the world taught me to see the world from many different angles, and poets of all types taught me that sanity and madness are often much closer to each other than we might think.
Would I have gotten to where I am today without what books have given me? There’s no way to know for certain, but even today literature in many forms still encourages me to reach for what I want, and to persevere when it seems like I can’t go on. I can’t think of any better (or more pleasurable) way to keep moving forward in life than through my love of reading.
It helped me in writing my 2 books … reading opens my mind to many new ideas … reading takes me away from my troubles as nothing al’s can … reading and writing are the greatest gifts we as humans can do … we tell the stories of life …
I think of great literature as superb character study. The masters such as a Balzac or Melville get inside an individual and in the process provides meaningful insight into the human experience. That is how great literature has enhanced my life both professionally and personally.
Reading great literature has been as important in my personal growth as religion. As man young man I was foolish and naive. Now 67, I have attained a small degree of wisdom, thanks largely to men who shared their knowledge before they died.
Reading kept me alive when I was growing up. It’s always been the best way I have to fight depression. If I hadn’t had access to library books as a kid, I don’t think I’d be here right now. So in a way it’s responsible for all my potential.
Today’s definition of poverty makes me laugh. When I was a kid, we were so hard broke I cant say because it would read like a Monty Python sketch. Most of the time we didn’t even have a TV.
But we had a library. I was lucky enough to get into a very good school, which was right next to Bristol Central Lending Library, and I almost lived there. I discovered worlds. Not just SF or Fantasy worlds, and not just fiction. I got into the reference/non-fiction section when I was only about eleven years old, and the most wonderful world I discovered was our own.
I did all my school research in that library; not cutting and pasting paragraph after paragraph from the net and no search engines. All I had was a cardex that must have had six thousand drawers, and I had to read.
I don’t have the strength to go back and visit. This was all more than thirty years ago, and I couldn’t bear to see the place ruined, or changed in a bad way. The memories I have are too rich and too important to me That library gave me more than school ever did.
It taught me how to think.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, literature is: writings in prose or verse. And of course the most common writings are to be found in books . Long before there was the internet, there were books. They entertain, they inform, they soothe my soul. When I was growing up my best friends were books. If I wanted to learn about something, I turned to a book – knitting, crocheting, cooking . . . But most of all, books inspire me to never give up, to keep trying for that goal.
Nowhere is the inspiration that reading provides more apparent than when it comes to my own writing. I think the best example of this is when I finished reading Someplace to Be Flying, by Charles de Lint. The story was so well crafted that I hated for it to end, and I remember thinking that some day I want to write a novel that makes someone feel about my writing the way I do about Charles de Lint. And that thought will keep me going when I get discouraged, and inspires me to do better, to be a better writer.
I remember when I was young that I used to get so absorbed into what I was reading that I would temporarily forget the rest of my life. When one put the book down and sat up, they called it ‘returning to the real world’. But I have never been convinced that this is the real world and that the false one.
I have learned so much from reading. It takes us so many places we could not otherwise go, helps us see the world from the point of view of the other gender, other races, other species. Through it we can ‘burn with the bliss and suffer the sorrow of all mankind’ (to quote the Hindu Bhagavad Gita.) There are so many things we cannot do in the space of a single lifetime, but reading allows us to contemplate more, to learn from more, and to use this as a springboard to live fuller and wiser lives.
Books have been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. I guess I had a thirst for learning things from a young age, so you would often find my head buried in an encyclopedia (this is long before Google was invented, you understand!) when learning about all kinds of new and wonderful things. I think my love of learning certainly helped me through school/college/university and has continued to help through my working life.
Of course, non-fiction has played an equally important role in my life. I love reading fiction because it can free you from the restrictions of everyday life. You can travel through time and space, you can explore places that are not feasible in reality, the possibilities are endless. This type of reading not only ‘entertains’ but ‘inspires’ me too. Inspires me to explore my own creativity, my own adventures in life.
Without books I think my life would have turned out much differently. Without books I wouldn’t have become a publisher!
Reading for me is a very personal journey of both learning the craft of writing as well as enjoying the flavours of other authors. Not only have I grown as a woman, but also as a writer.
Reading brings me into new worlds and provides me with an outlet into enjoying other lives. It also allows me to incorporate thoughts and desires I glean from their pieces.
It was a love of reading that inspired me to write. In the main I read stories were the main protagonist had to overcome tremendous odds to achieve his/her desired aim. Stories where I could become lost in their world for a time, and feel their reward at the end of the tale. I think I became more of a positive person due to that. I always look at the pot half-full rather than seeing half has disappeared, and I like literature that has a similar direction, which is why Thomas Covenant left me a little cold. His character was too negative and self-pitying for me. Although I did manage to read the first trilogy, if only to see whether he could develop a more optimistic nature. Sadly, he didn’t, so I gave up after a few chapters of the next set. Reading set me to believe most things are possible if you have a mind to see things through and not become bogged down by obstacles placed in your way.
Since I write non-fiction, most of my reading is published research papers or information I find online. When I select books for pleasure reading, I pick award winners. A good book is not just a good story, it’s a good story well told. I strive to write my best, so reading a work that excels allows me to delve deeper into what makes a book great–fascinating story, inventive characters, beautiful description, intriguing subject, intertwined structure or something else.
Recently I read a book that lingered in my thoughts long after I’d finished it. There were some parts that were left untold, an unopened letter, for example. I’ve been thinking about how to make my own work more thought provoking. Reading good books helps me to see what’s missing in my work and it gives me stars to reach for.
Making a habit of reading ensures that I’m always exposed to new ideas and don’t get stale in my thinking and personal growth. However, I’ve tried to read only things that excite me or I’m seriously interested in, rather than reading just because it’s a “good idea.”
Reading to me is all about seeing new possibilities, and experiencing the world from a different perspective. I have often turned to reading whenever I felt stuck or melancholy or just when I needed a break from my current situation.
Without reading, I believe I would have never been able to create the way that I do. I can, with all honest measure, say that I had never picked up my first novel until I was in in my late 30’s and waiting another ten years before I actually tried to write my first novel, after the birth of my first grand child six years ago. Due to the many things that I have read in the many genres…it has caused me to have a craving to write in every genre I can get my hands on. : )