What Book(s) Are You Currently Reading?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

What Book(s) Are You Currently Reading?

David TowneDuring my years as a leader in education, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants. There is one question that I ask prospective teachers that most stumble over and now, I think, I know why. The question I ask usually occurs in the middle of the interview and it goes something like this: “What book can I find on your table that you are currently reading?” Blank stares, uncomfortable shifting in the chair, silence, and usually the response is one of an excuse as to why they are not currently reading. I find it alarming that our future teachers of future leaders are not engaged consistently in the reading of great, living books.

That one question gives me an insight into the world of the prospective teacher. When I meet a candidate who is a reader, I immediately know they are lifelong learners! It allows me a glimpse in how they use their time, what their interests are, their learning style, and so much more. Reading isn’t the only thing that tells me one is a lifelong learner but it is a big indicator.

After reading the masterpiece of Thomas Jefferson by Jon Meacham entitled The Art of Power, it became clear that education, reading, and sustaining a republic were synonymous to the Founding Fathers. Jefferson once said about the training of our minds (reading), “every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree.”

What is happening to our minds? They are being rewired by our choices. Checkout the latest research on what we do instead of reading:

● Every day, adults spend 50 minutes on Facebook
● Every day, adults spend 40 minutes watching YouTube videos
● Every day, we spend five hours and four minutes watching T.V.
● Every day, the average person will open Instagram 54 times
● Every day, the average teen will end up being on some social platform for nine hours
● Every week, the average family watches three full-length movies

I could go on but I am getting angrier with every bullet point I type! The reason? These statistics reflect my own drifting away from what is true, good, and beautiful about sustained reading. As much as I love to read, I succumb at times to the boost of dopamine triggered by the little noise or vibration when I get a message or text, or scrolling through my iPhone before I go to bed, or checking social media the first thing in the morning before even getting out of bed! Most of us have become addicted to social media and electronic communication, and that addiction has affected relationships, productivity, and our reading.

A few things that I am working on in this area that you might find helpful:

1. Set up a time that you turn off your phone/computer each night (at least 60 minutes before you go to bed).
2. Your brain is the most creative after a restful night of sleep. Don’t waste it on spending time on email or your social media sites. Read, write, or exercise during those first few hours.
3. Take a class on reading faster and recalling better. I am currently doing that through Kwik Learning (kwiklearning.com). When was the last time you took a class on reading? If you are like me, it was in 3rd grade!
4. Challenge those close around you to turn off the television and read a variety of books. Make it a friendly competition, a book club or discussion, or read together as a couple each day instead of sitting in front of the boob tube (is that even appropriate to type?)
5. Read and give away! I have made it my habit this past year to give a book from my library to people I meet with for breakfast. Recently a group of colleagues got together and each brought a book to exchange. We placed the books in the center of the table, discussed them, and each took the one that interested them. Loads of fun!

Let us return to a love of books and be like Thomas Jefferson, who candidly wrote to John Adams in his later years, “I cannot live without books; but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object.”

David Towne

I am so glad my friend and colleague, David, offered this advice to you! If you aren’t reading regularly, I would encourage you to start today. Mix it up by alternating between reading for entertainment and reading for knowledge to keep it interesting.

Are you a reader? If so, can you share your tips on how to make time to read? If you’re a parent, how do you encourage your child to develop a habit and enjoyment of reading? We want to hear from you!

Live, Work & Relate Well!

Dr. Todd

Dr. Todd is a licensed psychologist, executive coach, published author, and national conference and seminar speaker. He has been a featured expert on national and local radio talk shows and television news programs.

6 thoughts on “What Book(s) Are You Currently Reading?

  1. Great article. I read many books on different subjects. I use an application called Blinkist. It allows you to read a book in approximately 20 minutes. Granted it is a summary of the salient points in each chapter, but it allows me to get the meat that I want without the fluff. It allows me to broaden my mind with many subjects and keeps me away from the mindless social media.

  2. As the daughter of a teacher, I have seen my mother work harder than anyone I know at preparing lessons, grading papers, and investing in her students’ lives for hours before and after school as well as on weekends. I know that if she were to be asked what book she were reading, she would stumble and not have an answer because she is too busy in the school year to read. She works harder to impact her students’ future than anyone I know. My mother is known at her school as a kindhearted soul who is incredibly gifted at teaching reading. She loves reading when given the time, but working from sun up to sun down just to make a difference in her kids’ lives doesn’t leave much time for reading. As a lover of books myself, I understand the importance of stretching the mind and enhancing the soul. But there is more than one way to channel our inner creativity and thoughtfulness. I recently took a course analyzing social media and its effects on our culture as a whole. We studied phenomenal movies and music, analyzing the deeper meaning behind what we see on screen. It was incredibly inciteful and interesting to see different world views and opinions surfacing through forms of social media. Movies and music really connect people. My father and I happen to love watching films and movies together; it’s one of the only times I find that I’m able to connect with him and share my interests with him. We love discussing the different cultures and viewpoints expressed on screen. I do agree that society as a whole is addicted to screen time and phone use, but I would have to disagree with the fact that only teachers who have a quick reply when asked what they are reading are “lifelong learners”. I also have to disagree with the opinion David shared that television is a “boob tube” that is only used for mindless entertainment. Thank you for your opinions, David. I value your right to them, but regretfully I do not agree with some of the points mentioned in your article.

    1. Thank you Anna for your heartfelt tribute to your mother and for your articulate response. I understand we might differ on this subject but I don’t think we are that far apart. My comments and thoughts were based on the idea that “generally” our society has moved away from great literature and living books. The result is a populace that has lost a bit of their soul and the ability to embrace what is good, true, and beautiful.
      I think the advancement of most media is not training our minds to think deeply on virtue and big ideas.
      I sure admire your mother’s work, your devotion to your father as you discuss the lessons within the movie or music. My guess is that not many actually do that.
      Thank you for making me think again about my position on this topic that I am passionate about.

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