books are cool
Photo by Peter Amend
Growing up, I had no interest in reading. I remember my mom would beg me to read these “books” that she photocopied and stapled together. These “books” weren’t Spot books, but literally small squares of paper that had a maximum of three words per page. Years later my older sister told me that our mom was genuinely concerned that I couldn’t read, and that maybe had a mental development problem.
Fast forward to 2018, where luckily my mom discovered that I could read, but I’ll admit that at this point in time I didn’t read much for fun. Most of the literature I was reading consisted of Google Analytics Help Center articles, Google Analytics Product Requirement Documents (PRDs), Google Analytics Communication documents, and emails. So to give myself credit, I would read a lot - just not books.
Last year my colleague told me about his new years resolution to read a book a month, and I decided to piggyback this resolution. However, by May 2018 I was very behind. I was still reading my first book.
One night I watched “The Breadwinner” (movie trailer) which is a movie about a little girl growing up in Afghanistan, living under the control of the Taliban. From what I remember, the dad ends up getting thrown in jail because he believed in educating his daughters even though the Taliban forbade it. As a result, the mother and two daughters are put in a sticky situation because women could only leave the house accompanied by a male family member, and couldn’t go out and buy food on their own.
After the movie, I realized how lucky I was to be born in a society where I could go to school, and had parents who believed in and fully supported my sister’s and my education. And then I thought about how much time I spent just surfing the internet (often shopping/browsing), and scrolling through social media. And I spent so much time watching B rated TV shows, and even more time browsing online to find something to watch.
It was fantastic and terrible realization all at the same time.
From that point on I tried to read during the time I’d usually find myself watching TV, and it was amazing how many books you can read. I thought that I didn’t have enough time to read, but really the issue was that I wasn’t prioritizing the time to read.
May: **Daring Greatly (Brené Brown)
June: **The Tipping Point (Malcom Gladwell)
October: **Linchpin (Seth Godin)
November: We Are All Weird: The Rise of Tribes and the End of Normal (Seth Godin), **Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World (Adam Grant)
December: All You Can Ever Know (Nicole Chung), **The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat: And Other Clinical Tales (Oliver Sacks)
I’m also happy to say that I borrowed all but two of these books from my local public library, and one of the books I purchased was used.
What I didn’t expect was that when I started reading, I gained access to what seemed like this secret underground book club. Turns out other friends were also trying to read more (or were already big readers), and now I find myself connecting with friends in a way I hadn’t before. Connecting about books, either through sharing and asking for book recommendations, and even trading books.
For most of my life I thought being “cool” was being able to talk about all the hit movies and tv shows. Now in my 30s, I’m happy to discover that books are cool.