You are what you read, so read what you love

by Jobbatical May 31, 2016

The pick-and-choose approach to reading books

Books, glorious books! Image: Shutterstock

At Jobbatical, we are crazy about books. We love them on paper, we devour them in electronic form, and we’re also quite fond of listening to them. I recently conducted a small survey to learn more about the team’s reading habits: Perhaps I would discover that people who work at startups display one single characteristic that clearly sets them apart. And surely my extensive original research would win countless prestigious awards.

Sadly, I was forced to conclude that the only thing my data definitively proves is that people who don’t fill in questionnaires are more likely to receive passive-aggressive notes and grumpy stares from blog writers. (Science!)

Quite shockingly, it turns out that people enjoy all sorts of books, and attempting to draw sweeping conclusions based on the preferences of 14 very different individuals is neither easy nor worthwhile.

Setting aside the limitations of my minuscule study and heading into the territory of general knowledge, one thing is clear: By being fond of reading, we’re all actively increasing our odds of being happy and successful. The benefits of reading are many, varied, and backed by research. It makes you happier. Smarter. More creative. More empathetic. Possibly immortal [citation needed]. You can’t lose.

This person doesn’t seem to be very good at reading. The teacup should ideally not be covering the words. Words are quite often an important part of a book. Image: Shutterstock

Most of us at Jobbatical read at least some books every year, and one team member has confessed to reading more than forty a year (frankly, I’m not sure how she does it, and I’m looking forward to studying this person more closely). Favorite genres vary, with the unifying thread being a universal love of nonfiction in all its forms (business books in particular).

Quite interestingly—and somewhat poetically—fantasy turned out to be the most popular genre of fiction. As a huge believer in the brain-enhancing powers of stories, I was delighted to see that there is room for fiction in the collective hearts and minds of team Jobbatical. Looks like even the most entrepreneurially minded, go-getting, jet-setting, results-driven, startup-spirited multi-hyphenates make time in their lives for some good old-fashioned escapism.

It doesn’t come as a shock that humans still like novels, but it could do with a bit of reinforcing. Fiction in general tends to get overlooked when the reading habits of successful people are dissected. It’s not uncommon to come across the mildly condescending notion that the wealthy are better at reading than the rest of us, while “average people would rather be entertained than educated.” Well, allow me — a lowly member of the masses — to finish reading the label on this shampoo bottle, and I’ll be right back with a retort.

Gripping premise. Lacks character development. Uneven pacing. 5/10 would not recommend. Image: Shutterstock

Thanks for waiting. Firstly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being entertained. Secondly, education and entertainment are not mutually exclusive. Thirdly, humbug.

The books that enrich our lives the most are the ones we enjoy. It really is as simple as that. I know of a certain startup founder who goes jogging alone after dark while listening to Stephen King novels. I often get into heated arguments over Discworld trivia with the single most successful person I know. In fact, the most interesting people I’ve had the pleasure to meet are avid readers of fiction.

So be proud and let your fiction flag fly! The wider the net you cast into the vast sea of books out there, the more knowledge and creativity you bring on board. As long as it floats your boat.

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