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Why Reading Matters

When asked how it is possible to know how to launch rockets into space, Elon Musk responded, “I read books.”

I like his answer. A large portion of what I know came from reading books.

Let me spell out for you what it is you are encountering when you read a valuable book.

First, you have a person who authored the book. Such people are usually fairly smart individuals. The process of putting together cogent sentences into a book that may run between 200 and 600 pages or more is not an easy undertaking. It requires rigorous thought that can be sustained for many months while the manuscript is being written.

Second, once the manuscript is complete, the author has to go over it again and again, locating spelling mistakes, fixing poor sentence structure, correcting punctuation matters, making sure the manuscript is as good as the author is capable of making it.

Third, the manuscript usually goes to an independent editor the author hired to take a fresh look at manuscript and do any needed cleanups.
Fourth, the manuscript goes to the publisher who then assigns their own editorial team to do their own clean up, making the manuscript even stronger and clearer and more readable.

Then the book gets formatted for the proper size of the book, with attention given to font type, font size, margins, cover design, indexing, etc.

And finally the book gets manufactured, getting printed and bound, trimmed to the correct size, and send to distributors, bookstores, or other destinations.

What you get in your hands when you purchase the book from a retail outlet like Barnes & Noble is a finely crafted, well-edited gem – at least in most cases.

When you read a good book, you are entering the thought-world of an learned man or woman. You are immersing yourself in the expertise of a deep individual, occasionally a savant.

You are inserting into your own mind brilliance. And as you add the experience of many books over a lifetime into your learning, you gain a disparate and vast collection of insights, formulas, models, concepts, stories, lessons, points, knowledge, and potential wisdom into your own consciousness. I cannot overemphasize the many times I have been able to solve a problem, ascertain a solution, contribute to a conversation, elevate a discussion, or reach a breakthrough because I was able to draw upon an unlikely collection of interconnected images and abstractions that formed a cohesive whole. Had I not read the books I had read, I would not have been able to do so.

Even now, as I write this column, I contemplate all the books out there that I have not read, even books I do not even know exist, that had I read, I would have been able to contribute so much more to this world.

Make reading a regular part of your life. You should have very few spells where you are not tackling a book.

And you can take that to the bank!

Ara Norwood is a multi-faceted and results-oriented professional. Spanning a multiplicity of disciplines including leadership, management, innovation, strategy, service, sales, business ethics, and entrepreneurship. Ara is also a historian, having special expertise on the era of the founding of our republic.
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