How To Choose Books That Help You Grow Personally and Professionally

Lifestyle

April 15, 2020

Recently, I published a blog post on how to read more books as a busy professional. You can read it here. Once you get into the groove of reading more, you might find yourself questioning exactly what you should be reading.  

I touched on it a little in the first post, but choosing the right books to read is as important as reading itself. If you choose a book that provides you with no value, what is the point? Just to check it off the list? That’s not why I read.  

I read to find solutions, to find tools, to solve problems, to find value, and to ultimately find growth. 

So that’s why I aim to have four, five or even six categorically topical books that satisfy existing need in my life. I call it last minute learning. Keeping subject matter handy for whatever thing or things I’m currently trying to improve on. In general, I aim to have a relationship book, a financial book, or a book on whatever I’m most interested in at the time. I also like to keep a book on leadership, sales or marketing in the mix.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: 

Along with category and subject of focus and need, size and location matter. I call this “Right Size to Bite-Size”. Books always need to be in your face and accessible. 

Primary – If at all possible you should have a specific place setup in your home that is dedicated to focused (40-60+ minute sittings) reading. I don’t mean you have to have a library or a book nook (though that would be awesome). For me it’s just simply a specific cushion on a particular couch in my house. I don’t sit there unless I’m reading or journaling. Just like Pavlov could make his dogs drool with the sound of a bell, in classical conditioning, we can leverage our environments to trigger a reflex automatically. If you read in the same spot often enough, you will more often read, and crave reading, every time you look at that spot. 

Bed side – should be a book that has nothing to do with work. Perhaps a relationship or stoicism book, before bed. Anything that doesn’t spin your mind UP.  

Bitesize – A book small enough to fit in your back pocket and that you can always keep in your person or in your bag easily (no excuse). It should be small enough that you could finish it in one sitting on a short ~40 minute flight.

Squatter – Books for bathrooms. I generally have two types of books reserved for this time that would otherwise be spent endless scrolling on social media. First are generally books of quotes or thoughts. Good examples are: How to fight a hydra, 300 arguments, Brave enough. The second is a book that I’m considering getting too that otherwise hasn’t made it to the top of the pile. If I read a few pages (or more through a few ‘sittings’) and it really grabs me I’ll graduate it out of the restroom to a more prominent position to read it more quickly. 

Affirmational – this is a book or books that you’ve read that you need to remember to implement the principles of, that is IN YOUR FACE throughout the day. I suggest on your desk and near your TV for these books. The idea here is just to see it and think about it. A constant reminder. An affirmation. Perhaps pick it up and flip around to a page you highlighted and snag a few lines here and there.

Up next/s – This is the 3-5 books you have in line. This stack of books should be somewhere that you see often enough, perhaps a special bookshelf near your special spot on the couch to remind you of the up & commers. The point of this is to remind you that there’s always more material, and if one of the above aren’t doing it for you, you should swap them out for one that may. Think of these as your carrots to finish (or quit) the current books you are reading. 

Remember that every book you pick up isn’t going to be the right choice. If you aren’t hooked or don’t like the writing style or have read a full chapter and gained nothing from it, move on. Shelf it, give it to a friend or save it for the future when it might be more relevant to you. There is no written rule that you must finish a book just because you started it. If it’s the wrong book, it’s the wrong book. 

Trophies – Ignore Marie Kondo says (about throwing away books, at least). I believe you should proudly display the books you’ve read and that brought you value. They will be a constant reminder that you are a reader, a lifelong learner, and these books are not just a part of your environment they are part of you. 

Bonus – Teach these habits to your kids early and set them up to be a lifelong learner as well! 

My daughters ’library’ that I installed when she was a newborn. We read twice a day now. 

Squatters for toddlers, tiny books on a tiny toilet. Make for easier potty training. 

Finding the Best Books For You

If you don’t currently read often, then you might not know where to start. It’s fine. I was a beginner once and still sometimes find myself struggling to find the next book to add to my collection.  

Below are a few ways I find books to add to my ongoing reading list:  

  • Join a Book Club – Not only will book clubs help you stay accountable, but they can help you find new books to add to your collection. They might provide you with selections you might not have otherwise chosen.
  • Ask Your Mentors –  Now that people know I’m an avid reader, I get asked frequently about relevant book recommendations. Don’t be afraid to ask your circle of peers or mentors for advice.
  • Put it on Social – Open up the question to your social media friends and followers. You might find great recommendations and make more meaningful connections in the process.  

Just like with any habit you’re trying to form, you have to commit. As a successful business person, you know the dedication required to reach your goals. The same goes for reading.  

Commit to finding a collection of books that motivate you to read on a regular basis and help you grow personally and professionally along the way.  

About A.C. Evans:

AC Evans is the CEO and Co-Founder of Drips. Since the early age of 16, A.C. has been an entrepreneur. His passion for ‘scaling the unscalable’ has led him to be a driving force of innovation and he was recently named as one of the top 40 marketers under the age of 40 for 2019. He is a thought leader in the conversational marketing® space and continues to share his journey as CEO of a growing start-up.