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“A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.” – Mark Twain
I may have some advantages. I have been a reader since first grade, nearly 60 years. Over that period I have been an engineer, a quality-assurance manager, a navigator, a technical writer, and an author. Reading has been the key to all of those careers. My ability to absorb information through the printed word has allowed me to succeed in each of those fields.
When I start writing a new book, I typically start off by reading a dozen or so books on the topic. Often they contradict each other. The fun lies in resolving those contradictions and piecing the facts into a greater picture. Often I discover the stuff that “everybody knows” is wrong by doing so.
Fortunately, I am a fast reader. Someone asked how much I read. I suspect I average five books a week. Since first grade. (The librarian at Burns Park elementary refused to believe I was going through the half-dozen books I checked out every week during the hour my first-grade class visited every Monday – until she quizzed me on the contents and discovered I know them.) That average includes books I read for pleasure.
Reading is a cheap high. There is plenty available, free, at the public library. And one of the advantages of being a book reviewer is publishers send me new books, free. Plus, getting those old books are cheap, if you buy used. Abebooks.com regularly supplies me with those dozen books I read when researching a new book – and I average about $7 each. Often the books were sold new for $40 a copy, 20 years ago.
Need a new idea? Read an old book. That is one of Rumsfeld’s Rules,one I have discovered to be true. Try it yourself. If you are looking for a New Year’s resolution, resolving to read more is a pretty painless one. It is fun, too.