30 Days to a Better Man Day 27: Start a Book

by Brett & Kate McKay on June 26, 2009 · 15 comments

in 30 Days to a Better Man

1 in 4 American adults did not read a single book last year. Those who did read books were usually women and older folk. This doesn’t bode well for younger men.  It’s not that younger men aren’t reading. They’re probably reading plenty on blogs or on their Tweetdeck. But reading snippets from blogs and websites is a completely different experience than reading a good old fashioned book. With a book you can get completely immersed in a story and suck out the marrow of good ideas. With the internet, you tend to just get blips of information at a time. It’s never enough to gain the kind of immersive experience and broad picture that a whole book gives you.

Today, we’re going to turn the page (so to speak) on the dearth of men not reading books. But before we begin, let’s just quickly review some of the benefits of reading.

The Benefits of Reading

Of course, the greatest benefit of reading is simply the pleasure that it gives you. Reading is an unmatchable pastime for relaxing and wiling away some time. Besides being thoroughly enjoyable, it has even more benefits:

Improves your writing. The ability to write well is a skill that will set you apart from your peers. Of course, if you want to become a skilled writer, you must practice writing. But in addition to writing, reading the words of great authors can also help you improve.  As you read, you’ll begin to notice patterns and sentence formations that work well. If you’re constantly reading quality writing, it’s hard for some of it not to rub off on your own writing.

Provides fodder for conversation.
Some of the best conversations begin with the simple question, “Read any good books lately?”You don’t want your answer to be, “Uhhhhh, no. But dude, have you checked out Keyboard Cat?” By reading good books, you build yourself a storehouse of conversation topics that are engaging and interesting.

Improves concentration and focus. With the internet and its millions of mindless distractions, concentrating and focusing on a single task has become more and more difficult. If you feel like you’ve become particularly distraction prone, reading a book could be just the prescription you need. Unlike blog posts and magazine articles that can be read in a matter of minutes, reading a book requires extended periods of concentration and focus. You’re not surfing around, feeding your brain an endless supply of new stimulation. It’s just you and the text. If you set aside time to read a book every day, you’ll start to notice a strengthening of your attention span.

Increases creativity. A creative person doesn’t just create new ideas out of thin air. He takes already existing ideas and cross pollinates them to create something entirely new. By exposing yourself to different ideas in the pages of books, you create a breeding ground in your mind for new ideas to grow.

Makes you a better man. Do you want to be a better man? Then read the biographies of great men.  The lives of great men contain numerous lessons that are just as applicable to us today. I feel  I’ve gotten more out of reading a biography of a hero of mine than I have with any so-called self-improvement book. With a biography, you can see concrete principles of manliness in action instead of just reading abstract advice. If you’re looking for a biography that will really inspire, I suggest The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. (Big surprise, huh?)

Broadens your perspective. No matter how far and wide you travel and how many interesting people you meet, you can never have the breadth of experiences contained within the world’s great books. Through reading, you can experience what’s it’s like to grow up fatherless, sail along with barbarous pirates, fly a plane in World War II, and climb Mt. Everest, all without leaving your armchair. Books help you gain greater insight and empathy than could be mined from your personal life alone.

Today’s Task: Start a Book

Start a book. Any book. Pick one of your favorite novels from high school or college. Choose a book that you’ve been forever meaning to read and have been continually putting off. Pick a book from the Essential Men’s Library or our list of great fictional adventure books and go to the library to check it out. Once you’ve selected your book, we’re going harness our inner third grader  and D.E.A.R it up.  You know. Drop Everything And Read. Read for at least 30 minutes today. Your brain and soul will thank you later.

Once you’ve picked your book, tell us what you’ll be reading in the Community. Then slowly step away from the keyboard, sink into a nice man chair, and get lost in your book.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mike June 26, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Also, a new hardcover costs close to the same price as a new dvd, and a used hardcover or paperback costs even less. You get a few hours/days/weeks of enjoyment out of the book, where a movie, you get about 2 hours. Are you gonna watch that dvd more than once? Probably not? You also may not read the book more than once, but you get more enjoyment time for the money spent than on a movie.

And if you head to your local library, it’s free!!!!

2 Torrey June 26, 2009 at 9:17 pm

This is a trend that has to stop. I agree that the internet has curtailed the consumption of reading.

I’m having a daughter due any day know so I decided to read Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters. The wealth of information I got from that book was worth the sacrifice of scouring the internet for randomness.

We all should encourage our friends to do the same! Great observation.

3 Joseph Rogers June 27, 2009 at 5:01 am

Does it count if I’ve entered the early stages of WRITING a book?

4 Iggy June 27, 2009 at 5:50 am

A good book is better than anything on television! I have just started a blog about books that I have read. I’m aiming for one review a week. Please let me know what you think so far!


5 Bob Davis June 27, 2009 at 6:37 am

I find that a policy of reading at least 1 chapter in a book (any book will do) at night before sleep has gotten me through at least 1 book per week for 40 years.

The 2 largest benefits of regular reading are 1) improving your vocabulary; and 2) improving your overall awareness of current and historical events.

If you don’t read, you don’t KNOW.

6 Dan June 27, 2009 at 7:08 am

Right on Brent! Great idea for this post.

I usually read 2-3 books at once (not counting whatever books I am reading for my research). Right now, I just finished “The Millionaire Next Door,” and I am part-way though Edmund Burke’s “Reflections on the Revolution in France,” while I am listening to C.S. Forrester’s “Horatio Hornblower” series in my truck to-and-from work and school.

7 Greg June 27, 2009 at 8:11 am

For the space and finance challenged—KINDLE! (Sorry for the Oprah moment).
For the financially challenged (or just plain frugal)–THE LIBRARY!
“Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man and writing an exact man”
–Sir Francis Bacon

8 Robert June 27, 2009 at 8:50 am

I’ve got friends who never even once (willingly) picked up a book in their lives, and I really feel sorry for them — they don’t know what they’re missing out on. Reading keeps me sane.

9 Brett June 27, 2009 at 10:30 am

@ Greg-

Love that Sir Fancis Bacon quote.

10 Mark Wilson June 28, 2009 at 2:47 am

I’m already 120 pages into writing my first novel – it’s a buddy / road-trip with a massive twist. Hoping to get it taken on by an agent in the next couple of months. Fingers crossed!

11 casino610 July 6, 2009 at 10:25 am

The lives of great men contain numerous lessons that are just as applicable to us today

12 George Smith October 14, 2009 at 2:08 pm

I also read the millonaire next door. And another good book I would recomend is the Wealthy Barber

13 Sam Granger November 27, 2009 at 1:55 am

Has anyone thought about doing National Novel Writing Month?


I haven’t. I’ve been working on essays and book critiques and such. My experience writing narrative has been a bit stunted by all these linear intellectual arguments, but next year I’d love to do it.

14 Tanshin January 25, 2010 at 11:04 am

@Joeseph Rogers

Hahaha YES. It’s even better.

15 Tim June 6, 2013 at 6:59 pm

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