The Well-Read Life

Do you ever wish you had more time to read? Or had a better knowledge of science? Of geography? Of economics?

Would you like to find some extra reading time and use it to …

  • Make more money?
  • Have more fun?
  • Understand more about the world?

I used to feel that way. But my busy life crowded out the extra time. If I could find 15 minutes to read every day (usually before falling asleep), I was lucky.

I don’t feel that way now. These days, I spend at least two hours a day reading. I read three daily newspapers, about a dozen weekly or monthly magazines, numerous periodicals and books (fiction for my pleasure and non-fiction for my education).

Reading has made me a better boss, a smarter parent, a more understanding spouse, and a much more successful businessperson.

Right now, as I write this, I’m in the middle of the following books:

From each of these books I’ll take something – a productivity tip here, an interesting fact there; a good story here, and a quotable quote there. I read each at the pace it deserves; some slowly, some quickly. And I have taught myself to stop reading a particular book the moment I decide there is little or no benefit in continuing.

Reading has always been an important part of my success and happiness. I am not unusual in that regard. Most of the most accomplished men and women of our time credit a good part of their success to reading.

My reading took a step up about a year ago when I read "The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life" by Steve Leveen, president and CEO of Levenger Inc., the well-known catalog company. If you get yourself a copy, you’ll thoroughly enjoy Steve’s story – how he found his own "well-read" life – and you’ll be motivated and informed about starting one of your own.

An example:

"When my wife, Lori, and I founded Levenger and started selling ‘tools for serious readers,’ our customers graciously purchased our reading lights, bookcases, and notebooks. Yet there was one repeated request we could not fulfill. Again and again customers said to us, ‘What I need is more time to read. I just wish you could give me that.’

"As a merchant, I found it frustrating to hear customers express such a deep desire and not be able to satisfy it.

"But then I met a fellow who made it his hobby to ask people about their favorite books in order to build his own ideal reading list. I learned about people who fill their libraries with hundreds of carefully chosen books they would like to read. I discovered readers who read lots of books by listening to them. I encountered people who praised their reading groups for how much more they gained from books shared this way.

"Other readers described how they retained more from their books if they wrote in the margins or made summaries in notebooks. Still others became born-again readers due to some signal event (often a personal setback) and expressed how grateful they were for their rebirth.

"I began to wonder if I should collect these techniques and stories to share with our customers. If I couldn’t literally give them more time, perhaps I could give them tools for getting more books into the time they had."

And that’s exactly what this very well written 120-page gem of a book does. You can read "The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life" in a single sitting. It is chock full of amusing anecdotes, useful reading techniques, and simple wisdom that will please you immediately and reward you long afterward.

I’m reading it for the second time now, and it’s better than the first read. There are not too many experiences in life you can say that about.

Get "The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life" at

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Published: June 6, 2005

1 Response to “The Well-Read Life”

  1. Michael,

    What a terrific post. Thanks for sharing your personal and professional journey.

    You have hit the hammer right on the head of the nail.

    You may be surprised to know that there are a lot of people out there who think there is a trade-off between reading voraciously and making money.

    I would challenge that notion, because some of the greatest people in our history were avid readers.

    It would be great to get a good education and earn a living as well.

    It takes two to tango. Cheers.

    Archan Mehta

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