Pursue What Matters
Episode 7: Readers are Leaders
Please excuse any typos, transcripts are generated by an automated service
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
Have you ever heard the saying that readers are leaders? Well, it’s true, on today’s episode, I am going to talk about why and how that saying is true. And if you’re not a great reader, by the end of the podcast, I’m hoping to convert you just a little bit to becoming more of a reader.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:16
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith, welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Okay, well, if you’ve listened to any of my podcasts so far, first of all, thank you so much, then you know that I kind of have a love affair with books, I am a total bibliofile, it is a real problem. During the first 12 years of our marriage, we moved I think about seven times. And during that time, we got to be real pros at packing up and moving. Every single time we moved, people, you know, would come and help us move, which was very generous of them. And every single time, they would marvel at the stacks and stacks of boxes of books to be moved. It was by far the thing that we have the most of so you know, we’d maybe have a few boxes of clothes, maybe a couple boxes of dishes that shows where my priorities are. I don’t have very much kitchen stuff. I have boxes and boxes of books. And the thing is, I just keep accumulating them. So I can’t seem to pass a book without buying it. I just love it. And still to this day, one of my favorite pastimes is going to a bookstore and browsing and kind of makes me sad because the bookstore is kind of dying. And I don’t know what I’m going to do, because how am I going to browse for books because like, I like Amazon and everything, but it’s just not the same. So today I want to talk to you all about reading because it’s such a great thing.
Dr. Melissa Smith 2:18
So Margaret Fuller said, “today a reader tomorrow a leader.” And I remember years ago when I was in graduate school, I first heard the adage readers are leaders. And then of course the corollary that leaders are readers. And I remember being really intrigued by it. Because first of all, I totally considered myself a reader. And in my family being a reader was pretty much the most important thing you could be. So let me explain. I think I’ve already probably talked a little bit about this. But you know, as a granddaughter of the county librarian in small town, Idaho, I had broken my teeth on all the greatest books from Dr. Seuss to Anne of Green Gables. And of course, everything in between. So in small town Idaho, I thought I was pretty hot stuff, stopping by the library walking behind the big desk and helping my grandma return books from the book then that was like one of my favorite things to do. There was the people could drive drive thru and drop their, their books in the book bin. And that was like, my favorite little job to do was to check the book bin and and empty the books from the book bin. So it was pretty exciting stuff, let me tell you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:39
So I did every summer reading program the library ever offered from birth to the point they kicked me out, probably because I was too old. And then, of course I’ve talked about this, but every Saturday, I’d visit my grandparents in their home. And I’d always end up in my grandma’s attic, which I considered my own fully stocked, stocked library, complete with the Dewey Decimal catalog. My sister reminded me of that a couple weeks ago, I had forgotten that she had a full Dewey Decimal catalog. It was like an old leftover one from the library and ended up in her attic. And it’s like, very cool. We loved that. So it was heaven up there. And of course, each Saturday i’d stuff a canvas bag full of new treasures to read in the coming week. And I really did have to promise to my grandmother, that I would indeed read each of the books, so she wouldn’t send them with me, unless I promised her that I would read them. And so of course like I was a very conscientious girl. And so I always promised that I would read the books and of course I always did. And then I would be able to trade those books for a new stack the next week.
Dr. Melissa Smith 4:53
So reading really is like breathing to me. It is the language of love, exploration, curiosity, and compassion. So through reading, I’ve really been able to explore new worlds on far distant shores. and discover also what was in my own heart through reading of the experiences of characters. So reading really is life for me. And I know that kind of sounds a little dramatic, but it’s really true. Reading is still my favorite pastime. It’s how I relax. But it’s also how I get really excited about a topic.
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:28
So whenever I want to learn about something, reading is what I do. Like some, some people might watch a YouTube video or something like that, but not me. Like it’s, it’s all reading. So I’ve always had a very curious mind. And reading has been my window into learning about the world. So you know, even though the days of the summer reading program at the library may be over for you, they at least are for me, I don’t know, who knows, maybe my local library would let me do that. But perhaps you could use this podcast as a mini summer reading program for yourself. I hope that you will. And I hope that the things that I’ll talk about today will inspire you to read even more than you do so already. Because reading is such a great skill. It’s a great pastime, there are so many wonderful benefits of it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 6:20
And so also, as part of today’s podcast, I have a great freebie for you. So first of all, I want to take just a minute and explain what a freebie is. So I don’t know that I’ve really done a great job of explaining that. So a freebie is some great content or information that goes along with the podcast to help you extend your learning. So it might be a worksheet with some self reflection questions, it might have key points about something that I discuss, maybe it’s a cheat sheet to help you remember some concepts or it might be a great resource. And so I won’t have a freebie for every single podcast, but I do have them pretty regularly. And so I will definitely like through the throughout the podcast, like when I have a freebie, I’ll make sure that I mentioned those. And definitely let you know about that. And I hope you will definitely download the freebies. And so that’s how you access the the freebie is you can always download the podcast freebies at my website, which is www.drmelissasmith.com. And you can do forward slash podcast that’ll take you to the main podcast page, and then you can go to this specific episode. And you can always find the freebie that goes with that episode. Or if you know which episode you can go to it would be dr.melissasmith.com/episode-7 or for whatever the episode is. So anyway, I hope you’ll watch for those freebies. And it’s just a way that you can extend some of your learning around the topic that I’m discussing in the podcast. And you know, my hope is that it can add some value for you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:10
And today, I’m really excited about the freebie that I have for you. Because it’s like your own Summer Reading guide. So I’ve collected some of my favorite reads, from different genres to kick start your own Summer Reading guide. So be sure to check out this great freebie. And I’ll give you the the exact link for that at the end of the show. And hopefully, that’ll give you some fun recommendations for your summer reading as you move into the summer months. And hopefully you’ll have some great time for some summer reading.
Dr. Melissa Smith 8:43
I want to begin by talking about some of the amazing benefits of reading for learning, because it really is true that readers are leaders. So first of all I have identified so there’s lots of benefits. But today I want to talk about 10 benefits of reading. So as you listen to these benefits, I want you to think about these for yourself. But also think about these for your kiddos. So if you’re a parent, definitely I want you to think about these because of course, summer is a great time to make sure your kiddos are reading. That’s always a big push during the summer months. Because if kiddos are not reading during the summer months, they’re they tend to fall off in their progress for learning. So let’s talk about some of the great benefits of reading.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:37
So benefit number one, mental stimulation. So when you read, you are exercising your brain like in a very real way you’re exercising your brain, which I think is so cool. So this keeps the brain nimble and agile, which as we age it becomes protective against the effects of aging. So that’s definitely a A really important benefit.
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:01
Benefit two, is expanded vocabulary. And I think this is a really big benefit of reading. So reading expands your exposure to new ways of communicating, including new words. So I often have friends tease me about my PhD vocabulary. And they assume my vocabulary comes from my years of earning a PhD. And certainly some of those words do so. Obfuscate comes to mind, as far as like a word from the PhD, but most of my 25 cent words, which is what I call those big words, really come from decades of pleasure reading, my reading is, is really varied. So I love nonfiction. I love fiction, I love historical fiction. I love literary novels, I like murder mystery. I like a little bit of fantasy. I’m not like a huge fantasy fan, I really enjoy just about everything except romance, I am not like a huge fan of that genre, I must draw the line somewhere, not that there’s anything wrong with that. And, and the reality is that all of my years of reading have really introduced me to so many worlds of words. And I mean, I remember many times growing up, like when I would read and come across a word like once in a while, like, I would look it up in a dictionary. But most of the time, I just remember like, after coming across the same word, maybe five or six times, I would just it’s kind of like that, that brain exercise, I would just start to kind of piece the meaning together. And sometimes I was right. And sometimes I was wrong. But one of the main benefits of reading is an expanded vocabulary.
Dr. Melissa Smith 11:55
So the third benefit that I want to talk about, and this is seems like a no brainer, but it’s an important one is increased knowledge. So reading will make you smarter. So reading is one of the best ways to increase your fund of knowledge. So that’s kind of your bank of knowledge, your store of knowledge. So I’m currently planning a summer trip. So we’re planning a really big trip. And so I have been reading everything I can get my hands on related to the history, and the geography of the region that I’m visiting. So that once I land on the craggy soil, I will have a blessed clue about what I’m seeing, and what I’m experiencing. And it’s I got to tell you, like, I feel like my trip has already begun. And I don’t even leave for another few weeks. And for me that that just I think will make the experience so much richer. So for me, you know, having some knowledge in my head, about the place that I’m visiting really helps to deepen the experience once I arrive, because it adds so much valuable context. And it really helps helps me to get more out of the experience. So for example, if I’m visiting like this incredible castle, like if I don’t know anything about the castle, I can still certainly appreciate the beauty of the castle. And I can learn some about the history of the castle and like the little placards or the tour guides, that sort of thing. And I think that can certainly be useful. And you can take advantage of that. But for me, like, how much richer is my experience? If I have read maybe some history about what happened at that castle, say during World War Two, if I could read some historical fiction about what happened at that castle during the period of the Norman invasion, and that, that the trails leading to that castle were actually put in place by the Romans. For me, that just makes the visit to the castle. So much richer and so much more meaningful. And so, for me, reading is really a portal to a richer experience. And so reading really helps increase that fund of knowledge or that bank of knowledge. And so it makes me really excited for my trip and visiting that castle and all the other things, all the other places that I have been learning about.
Dr. Melissa Smith 14:42
So benefit number four improved memory. So that’s one of the other main benefits of reading. So reading improves memory because you are forced to make and retain connections between information you are reading and think about if you’re reading a great novel Or especially let’s think about like a murder mystery in particular, right, you really need to track details. And you need to pay attention to times where you’ve heard information or small points of context previously. And so the ability to track information and, and make connecting links is really key to helping with memory. So reading helps you to identify patterns, prioritize factors, note, nuance, and track stories across time, as you read neural pathways are strengthened. So right, like when, when you’re reading, you’re tracking information, which strengthens these neural pathways, which is really key, because if you’re not, if you’re not using those neural pathways, they kind of grow over. They are not strengthened. And so your synapses also fire more quickly, and connections become more robust. And so you really are strengthening your neural connections.
Dr. Melissa Smith 16:08
Benefit number five, better focus and attention. So this one is certainly related to memory, but it’s not the same. So think about this, reading requires attention. And in the world we live in that is a major issue. So you must quiet the restless mind, in order to attend to reading, which really is a fee. In our ADHD world. I think that we do live in a world in an ADHD world right now. And I certainly have not seen a study on this. But I would be so curious to see the impact that smartphones have had on our reading, my guess is that reading has taken a big hit, because the content that we see on our smartphones is really all geared towards entertainment. Whereas with reading our minds provide the entertainment, it’s our minds, our minds are constructing a world for us. And that’s really where some of the magic and the benefit of reading lies, right that you’re using your imagination, also it’s requiring you to attend and to focus and to pay attention to detail, where we think about the world of the smartphone, or we think about the world of entertainment, right that we’re just digesting, we are more passive viewers, rather than with readers, we become active contributors to that process. So the other thing related to better focus and attention. Reading requires a degree of delayed gratification, you’ve got to hang in there and stick with the story we must hold off, focus and attend as a story or information unfolds to us. So in this way, as readers, we become co creators with the authors. And that’s really true when we think about imagination. So I’ll talk about this in a minute. But a lot of really great books and great stories have been turned into movies, and almost without fail the thing that you hear is the book is better than the movie. I mean, there are some exceptions. But by and large, usually the book is always better than the movie. And why is that? I mean, I think there are a few reasons. But I think one of the biggest reasons for that is because when we’re reading a book, we have our imagination, and we become co creators. And so right we are taking the information that we’re reading, and we are helping to create this story. And so in a very real way, we become co creators with the authors. And so it was this very synergistic effect, which is awesome. And like no Hollywood director and producer can compete with that, like they have a great imagination.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:22
But can they always compete with yours once in a while they can. But this sort of co-creation, it takes time it takes attention, it’s but it’s also really gratifying when we stick with it. And the other thing about that is it’s deeply personal. The way you imagine something may not be the exact way another reader imagines it. And so it’s a pretty cool process when that unfolds.
Dr. Melissa Smith 19:40
So let’s move on to benefit six. And I love this one. So benefit six is increased empathy. So reading provides a window into the world, the experiences of others, and then I think this is a really big one, the interior world of another. Where else can you get into the mind of a character, where else can you see the thoughts and the emotions of another person really, like you can’t, I always kind of tease that reading was my first supervisor, you know, I’m a psychologist by training. And, and so I work with people to understand and help them understand and give voice to their emotional experience, and also their thoughts and their beliefs. And that, that’s what reading has been, to me reading is a bridge to understanding our interior world. So reading provides a mechanism for self reflection, and thereby increases self awareness and the capacity for compassion both for yourself, and for others. So I remember, as a young girl, one of the things that I most loved about reading is that it could take me to far distant worlds, and connect me to individuals unlike any that I could meet in my small Idaho farm town. So that was really cool. I could go to the sands of Arabia. And I wasn’t going to meet anyone like that, in my small farm town. So that was pretty cool. But what I also learned is that these individuals, whether they were in Old World, Egypt, or whether they were in a spaceship set in the future, this was the cool thing, they had many of the same feelings I had. So even though they were a world apart, whether that was in the past, or whether that was in the future, whether that was in a completely reimagined world, they have the same feelings that I had, they have the same self doubt, they had the same longing for love and for connection. And so in a very real way, reading can help us increase empathy and our experience of compassion. And really importantly, not only for others, which I think is really important, but also for ourselves. And so reading can be a bridge for a better understanding ourselves, and our own emotional experience, which I think is so very, very cool. So reading connects us to one another through empathy. And so this, this is really key for leaders, right? Because this is a really big buzz term right now. And for good reason, because the research is really awesome around this. But reading not only connects us to one another through empathy, but it improves emotional intelligence, right? Because one of the foundations of emotional intelligence is empathy, and self awareness. So having this awareness of your own emotional experience, is one of the cornerstones of emotional intelligence. And so to think that reading can be a bridge to improving your emotional intelligence, that is a good reason to pick up a murder mystery book, I think. So there you go. I love that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 23:19
Okay, let’s talk about benefits seven. So one of the great benefits of reading is better analytical thinking skills. And we could all use some of those, let me tell you, like, I think that’s a great one. So reading forces you to make connections as, as I’ve already talked about, but also not only that, but also to decide what you think of what you are reading. And I love that, because it for it forces you to take a position. And it kind of gives you some space without a lot of pressure, to develop an opinion to develop a perspective. So do you agree with what you’re hearing? Is the opinion well argued? Where is the story weak? Are you buying it? Right? Like, do you agree with the narrator? Do you agree with the way uncle Fred is telling the story of what happened? The act of reading helps you weave details together, which again, strengthens neural pathways, right? I’ve already talked about that, and increases your analytical thinking skills. And this definitely makes you smarter. But also as part of this, it helps you to take perspectives and it helps you to really think critically and to determine whether you agree with what you’re hearing and to see some of the fallacies or some of the weaknesses in the different arguments or the different points of view and I think that’s a really cool thing that we see in reading.
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:55
Benefit eight improved writing. This is a great one. So My PhD also gets a lot of credit for my writing skills. And I definitely spent many of those years writing, like a lot. But I really think my years of hiding out in a corner, reading good books probably deserves most of the credit. So reading not only increases your vocabulary talked about that, but it also conveys grammar rules, various writing styles, and really exposes you to nuance in writing, that helps elevate your own writing. So you will definitely see that people who are well read, tend to write well, as well. So that’s a case that, and I don’t know about you, but I have seen kids coming up, they don’t have great writing skills, it’s kind of disappointing to see.
Dr. Melissa Smith 25:47
Benefit nine, reading sparks curiosity for further learning. So I can’t tell you how many topics I have researched based on learning about them in a book. So maybe you come across something, it’s like, I don’t have I don’t have a blessed clue about that. I want to learn more about that. And so then taking that as kind of a launching point for then learning more about that. So reading in a very real way can make you curious about the world, other people and learning itself. And so reading really engages you with life. And I love that and, and I do think that that is important to pay attention to reading is something that can be very private and very personal. And I think there’s a lot of value to that. But reading can also be social. And I will talk about that a little bit more as we as we go on and kind of talk about how to strike that balance. But if you choose like reading can really engage you with life. And so I think it really does that when we allow it to spark curiosity.
Dr. Melissa Smith 26:56
Okay, the last benefit that I want to talk about today, although there are so many more, okay, this is benefit 10. readers are never bored. I kid you not. I remember reading somewhere, of course, I read it, that a reader is always content as long as they have a paperback in tow. This is so true. This is like the story of my life. Readers really can be content anywhere they go, I can be content waiting in line at the DMV, if I have a good book, although I would rather not be at the DMV, I can tolerate a bad day fishing if I have a good book. In fact, I don’t even mind allows the day fishing. As long as I have a good book because I have a fish on the line, it might disturb my reading. And I love I love Love, Love A blustery rainy day, if I have a soft couch and a good book. And of course a blanket helps too. So one rule that I kind of have for myself, it’s not really a rule, it’s just something that I do and I’ve kind of always done is I always have a book with me anywhere I go. So if there is a chance, even a slight chance that I may be kept waiting, then I have a book with me and I don’t always read it. Like I had a couple of appointments this morning. And I had my book with me and I didn’t get a chance to read it, but it’s kind of it’s a little bit of a safety net.
Dr. Melissa Smith 28:18
I would hate to be just sitting there and not have the opportunity to read. Plus I I like having having a book instead of hopping on the phone because I do think the phone just becomes such that a no it just becomes such an easy thing for so many of us to do. And it’s for most of us it’s just kind of a time waster and so for me I just want to be a little more intentional about how I’m spending my time and so for me, I hold a higher value around reading a good book then you know like scrolling through Facebook or something like that and and I don’t have a problem with Facebook or social media or anything like that. I mean, I’m on it and I think there’s a lot of value in those platforms. But I want to be intentional about it. So I like to have a book with me so that I can be intentional about Okay, this is how I want to spend some of this open time that you know it’s kind of like a surprise it’s like a little gift to me.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:23
Okay, so Lemony Snicket so if you’re a reader you should recognize Lemony Snicket there it’s it’s a great children’s series, which if your kids have not read the Lemony Snicket books, you should definitely introduce your kids to those books and introduce your kids to the books before they watch the series. I think this series is on Netflix but haven’t read the books first because the books are awesome, but from Lemony Snicket never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them. I think that’s true. I agree with that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:58
Okay, so now I’ve talked about 10 awesome benefits of reading. So maybe I’ve inspired you, hopefully, I’ve inspired you, maybe you didn’t need inspiration, maybe you didn’t need converting. But maybe you don’t consider yourself a great reader, or you do and you just like to up your game. Well, I have some great solutions for you. And I hope that you’ll consider this your summer reading program. So let’s think about the old days of going to the library and having the summer reading program. So I have a lot, I have a go through them quick. So they’re, they’re fun. So I have 16 solutions, to help you to either strengthen your reading game, or to really like kickstart more of more of a consistent reading program for yourself. So let’s go ahead and jump in and talk about the solutions. So solution because Okay, before I start on, I do want to say one thing, because here’s the thing about reading, which kind of breaks my heart a little bit, is, for some of you out there, all of the joy and the pleasure of reading was like stomped out of you, either by parents, or by teachers, or by reading books, that just were painful to you. So I remember this, I remember it because he brings it up all the time. But during our undergrad program, my husband and I both had a general we had some generals that we needed to take care of. And so we decided to take this literature class together. And so we’re like, oh, this will be kind of fun. It was really fun. For me, it was not fun for him, because he doesn’t love some of the classics and some of the literature that we were reading. He’s a great reader, and he reads a lot. But some of the selections, as you might imagine, in you know, a college literature class, were not his favorite. And so there are some authors that we had to read in that class that, you know, if though if their names come up to this day, like my husband will start cursing aloud when he hears those names.
Dr. Melissa Smith 32:20
But he kind of still has a bad taste in his mouth because of some of these books that he was forced to read as part of this college course. But I think that can happen sometimes whether it’s in even like Junior High elementary school, high school, certainly College, where you’re maybe forced to read books that you did not want to read, they’re like don’t fit your reading style. And so you kind of attach this negative vibe to reading as a whole. And so I really hope that as we talk through some of these solutions, we can kind of help break some of those negative attachments if you have some of those negative attachments or associations and really help you find some positive connections and help you to connect with the joy of reading and really discover a way that you can connect to reading that can be really enjoyable, and help you to reap some of the really incredible benefits of reading. So that’s my hope for you.
Dr. Melissa Smith 33:22
So let’s go ahead and jump in and talk about some of these great solutions. So solution number one, read up on topics that fascinate you. So that’s the first place to start read up on topics that you’re really interested in. So forget about what you should be reading, and focus on reading up on topics that interest and intrigue you. So reading takes time and requires attention, obviously. So you should definitely pick topics that interest you and will hold your attention. So I would say be willing to range around different genres, because you may surprise yourself about you know, what you discover that you like. So like, for instance, I discovered that I absolutely love historical nonfiction. And I really didn’t think I would. But it’s really fascinating to me, and much more intriguing than his, say historical fiction to me. And so I didn’t, I kind of thought that historical nonfiction would be kind of dry. But I was really surprised. And I think that has a lot to do with the authors. So I think you do have to kind of be willing to, to give different authors and different genres kind of a shot, but definitely start with topics that you’re really interested in. That’s that’s definitely solution number one.
Dr. Melissa Smith 34:45
Okay, solution number two, give yourself an out. So as I just mentioned, reading takes time. And of course your time is precious, right like it is our most precious commodity. So if a book is not speaking to you or holding your interest by, say, 100 pages, that’s usually my cutoff, then I would say be done with it. So you get to decide what your page rule is. So mine is 100 pages. Sometimes people say 75 pages. Other people are 50 pages. Sometimes people are like 150 pages. But I would say, like, give yourself an out because life is short. And, of course, it takes time to get into a book. So I would say don’t bow at page 25.
Dr. Melissa Smith 35:31
But the truth is, life is too short for painful or boring books. I used to feel really guilty about this, like, first of all, I used to slog through books that I just hated, and I was not enjoying, because I kind of felt like, okay, like I, in order to be like a legit reader, I need to finish every book that I I start and then I was like, That is ridiculous. Like, that’s just garbage logic. So I let go of that I don’t feel guilty anymore. Thanks to thanks to solution for which we’ll talk about in a minute. But I would just say give yourself an hour. So So push yourself to get into the book, give yourself a reasonable amount of time to do that. And then also try and read consistently enough so that you’re not losing the thread of the story, because that will happen as well. Like if you’re only picking up the book every six days or something, like even if it’s a really interesting book, you’re going to lose the thread of the story. But then give yourself an out if it’s just not holding your interest.
Dr. Melissa Smith 36:39
Okay, solution, three, make it social. So I kind of alluded to this earlier. So although we typically think of reading as a solo activity, if you’re so inclined, there are lots of great ways to make reading social. So you definitely don’t need to make it social, I definitely don’t need to, but you can. So of course, there’s your neighborhood library, which are, you know, sadly ghost towns these days. But most of our neighborhoods still have libraries. And they do have reading programs or book clubs, that sort of thing. But maybe you want to join a book club for some accountability for reading, or to expose yourself to a greater variety of books and authors, or just to have some great discussions about great books, to socialize with people who also like to read. So I think that’s really fun. Over the years, I’ve started several book clubs, you know, that fact cannot surprise you. Even an online book club back in the day, I think that was like 2004 or something. I was like, in the middle of my doctoral program, and had like, I had like two little babies, I really needed a book. I needed a distraction, I guess. But it was an online book club. And I’m thinking like that was pretty forward thinking. So thinking at that time, but book clubs, for me have been such a fun way to connect with others. And, you know, what I found is certainly some of the clubs have fizzled, and others have really thrived. So there’s definitely an art and skill to effective book clubs. And here’s the cool thing, right? You can read up on how to make a thriving book club, you can read up online, there’s tons of great resources there. There’s also good books on that. Who knew. But you know, book clubs are great ways to make reading more social and the really cool thing for a lot of books, they have reading groups, or book club book guides at the at the end of the book. So they’re really geared towards that social aspect of reading. And so that’s that’s actually a really fun, fun thing to do. I remember this, this memory actually just came back to me like as a kid, oh, my grandmother was always like, she was in multiple book clubs, because like she was the librarian, like she was the lady, but she had multiple book clubs. And I remember going and participating in some of her book clubs sometimes and like her book clubs were like, legit, they they have like a different person in charge each month. And so I remember one month, it was like a Jane Austen book. I can’t remember which book, but like, she was doing a full on bio of the author, which was really cool. It’s all about Jane Austen. And she was talking to me about it and just telling me all of this history and and backstory information about Jane Austen and like, they like her her book club like it, at least that one. You know, she she was a member of several book clubs, but that that was like a very, like, they were very studious, and they took it very serious. And then there are other book clubs where it’s like, just just right of socializing. You know, it’s kind of more of like a quote unquote, dinner club. And sometimes there’s a book involved. I’ve had I’ve had book clubs like that It’s really more about like an excuse to get together with friends. So there’s lots of different ways to do book clubs. But that can be a really fun way to make reading social. So currently, the ladies in my extended family have a book club going, which is so great. They actually just started it. And I know Josie, so my project manager, I know that her family has a book club. And it sounds like they have so much fun with that, which I think is awesome. But for the book club in my family, sadly for me, they meet in Idaho. So I’ve still got to work out a way to get to one of those book clubs because they still they meet face to face, because they all live close together. Like it’s just like me and one other person that doesn’t live very close, I think most everyone lives pretty close. But that has become a great way for the family to connect.
Dr. Melissa Smith 40:49
So another option is to join a book club focused on specific topics. So for instance, an idea that I’m currently playing around with in my leadership coaching is offering a leadership group for leaders who want to meet in person or virtually once a month just to discuss a specific leadership book and topics. So for example, say the topic for the month is communication, or innovation. And so the ongoing group could be an excellent opportunity to not only develop skills in these different topic domains, and to also increase knowledge, but also to get leadership support problem solve some of the leadership challenges that group members are facing. And I just think this would be so much fun. And of course, you get some really powerful support. Anyway, those types of groups that meet by specific topics can also be very useful, and often include a learning component. So another way to make learning and reading social is to read with your kids. So summer is a great time to read with your kids. So maybe you decide to get through all the Harry Potter books, with your 12 year old this summer, maybe you read together every night, or you read in tandem, and check in about the progress you are each making. And then after you finish each book, you can have a fun movie night and watch the movie and compare notes between the movie in the book. So I’ve already mentioned this, but spoiler alert, the books are always better. We’ve already talked about why. So I’ve done this with my kids, my husband and I have done this with our kids. And it is so much fun. And of course, it’s a sneaky way to make sure that your kids are reading during the summer months, when reading time typically falls off off a cliff for kids, right? Like if if parents are providing some structure around reading during the summer months, like kids are typically going to be reading on their own. So for younger kids, of course, choosing a book that you can read to them is really fun. So some of the things that we would do, right like we would do kind of these reading marathons where we would get through, we would read through a series together, we would have reading time as a family together every single day where everyone is reading, we might not all be reading the same book. But we’re all you know, say like after dinner everyone’s reading together. You know, we just have 30 minutes that kids have to read 30 minutes every day before, you know before going and playing or screen time or anything like that. And then also like you can make it fun, you can make it interactive, you can kind of tie it to games and that sort of thing. So that it’s something that they can look forward to. And then ask them about what they’re reading. Ask them to tell you the stories that they’re hearing about, like, Is it about Greek mythology, and who are the characters and who’s who’s trying to kill Medusa and all of that fun stuff. So ask your kids about what they’re reading. So another great option. So we’re still talking about making reading social. So another great option is to read up on your family history, and then follow up with family members about what you are learning. So part of my religious culture is we’re really big on family history. And so that’s been a really important and big part of how I’ve always grown up. And I come from a long line of journal keepers, which I’m really very, very grateful for. So my family loves to write, maybe you could have guessed that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 44:37
My people have a lot to say, I guess apparently I have a lot to say. But I’m really so grateful for this because I have a lot of family histories and journals and they really have become a treasure to me. But the cool thing that I’ve noticed is that these family histories have also become valuable to my kiddos as well. So I keep them in a really prominent place in our family room so that our whole family can access Then. And it’s been, it’s been cool, you know, to come across my daughter plowing through my grandma’s history, or my son reading my grandfather’s World War Two diaries. So this is really cool stuff that connects us as a family. And so that’s been, that’s been really great. And so like, it’s one thing to maybe watch a movie about World War Two, that is quite another to read about your grandpa, who was in the army in World War Two and was in Italy, who was in the European theater where this movie that you were just watching was taking place like it really brings history to life. And so that’s, that’s been a really wonderful thing for my family. And so think about ways that you can connect to your kids to your family history and connect yourself to your family history. So one last option that I want to talk about for making reading social, and that’s an app that I absolutely love. So this is called Goodreads. If you haven’t come across Goodreads, you gotta you got to check it out. So I don’t even know if they have other I’m sure they have other apps for readers. But I think this is the best app for readers, I just love it. So it’s a place that you can keep track of your books, including those you’ve read, those you want to read and those you’re currently reading. So you can even create customized bookshelves for tracking your books. So this is so helpful. And it really comes in handy when you find yourself in a bookstore. And you can’t remember the name of the book you’re at loose that you absolutely have to read. So now when Aunt Lew recommends that book you can simply add it to your want to read bookshelf, and then hook yourself up when you’re at the bookstore. So it’s really very handy. Like I always use it when I’m at the bookstore, if I’m, you know, on Amazon, trying to remember the book that I was that I was meant to order. And of course on Goodreads, you can review books, you can read the reviews of others, which I do all the time. Like I always read the reviews of other readers. And my favorite probably my favorite part of this app is the social network so you can see what your friends are reading. So you can connect to people that you know, who also love reading. See, I’m a I’m a total SUPER Geek because I got a social network of other readers. But I love seeing what my friends are reading. And I really like their recommendations. And there are some friends I have that if they love the book, I know that I will really like it too. And of course, you can also meet other like minded readers on Goodreads and even interact with authors, which I think is kind of cool. You can also set reading challenges for yourself. And Goodreads will then track your progress. So it’s super handy that way.
Dr. Melissa Smith 47:54
Okay. So now let’s talk about solution four so make it personal. So let’s take the pressure off. So don’t worry about what others are reading. So that’s kind of funny, because I just talked about making it social and see what other people are reading. But you don’t have to you can also make it very personal. So don’t worry what your high school English teacher will think of what you’re reading or not reading. So this is actually really funny because one of my extended family members was the junior high English teacher, I never had her but I would always wish I did. And she was like, awesome. And I just I adore her. And we’re friends on social media. And we’re friends on Goodreads. And I love seeing what she’s reading. And so it’s kind of funny, because I’m like, oh, like the English teachers actually seeing what I’m reading. But it’s kind of funny because she’s, she’s awesome. And I don’t ever feel like she’s judging me. So that’s been kind of fun for me. But don’t feel guilty if you haven’t read all of the classics. So a friend of mine, and she’s a great reader, she once said it said of the classics, they were only classics because they didn’t have very many books back then. So I love that because she kind of like took the pressure off. Like, you don’t have to read all the classics like if you don’t want to read them, don’t read them. And this is what Mark Twain said about a classic.
Dr. Melissa Smith 49:13
So he said a book which people praise and don’t read, which I think is awesome. So this is this is the truth. There are so many books out there and you should definitely not waste your time reading what others think you should be reading. So no one’s got time for that. No one needs to know what you’re reading unless of course you post what you’re reading for all the world to see on Goodreads. Which in that case, use your discretion. So I post reviews and make disclaimers such as like this book has a lot of language, or this book is not for the faint of heart or this book would be rated are so like I’ll kind of add that kind of information to my reviews so people can be informed. But then potential readers are warned and then I’m off the hook because I don’t want anyone Come back to me and saying, you know what that book that you just love, like it was totally a potty mouth book. I’m like, I don’t care. Like you’re, you’re an adult, like you’re responsible for you. So I don’t want them coming back to me and saying that I gave them a potty book to read. So I’ll just make sure that I put that information there in the review, and then they they can read my review. And my feeling is like, we’re all adults here. You You get to choose the books you’re going to read, because I’m not I’m not interested in the guilt.
Dr. Melissa Smith 50:32
So let’s talk about solution five now, don’t read. So that might seem weird. But listen, right? So who says you need to read your books? So although there’s definitely a strong case for reading, and I definitely think you should physically read at least some of your books, I definitely, definitely think you should. There’s nothing wrong with digesting some of your material via your ears. So audible. And of course, other listening apps are great options for listening to books. And they really can make a story come to life, it can be a great option. So listening to a book is great when you’re on the road or otherwise have some mental bandwidth available for some great storytelling. So we like to do this for road trips, where we can all listen to a book together. And that’s, that’s been really fun for our family. So my guy friend teases me that listening to books doesn’t count as reading. But I had a friend say that if you retain the information, it counts. And I totally agree with that. Like, if you are able to retain the information, then I think it counts as reading. So I tend to digest some of my nonfiction material via listening or like the audible app. But I leave all of my pleasure reading for physically reading, like for my eyes, because I just, I just think that’s a more enjoyable experience that I found.
Dr. Melissa Smith 51:57
Okay, solution six, who says you have to read books, you don’t necessarily have to read books. Of course, books aren’t the only things to read. There are great magazines, journals, podcasts to listen to say like this one, right? Okay, that was a shameless plug. I won’t do it again. Probably not this episode anyway. Okay, so lectures, such as the Great Courses and masterclasses, right, there are so many options available. So keep exploring, you will definitely find something that sparks your interest. So it doesn’t, you know, you don’t have to have a rigid rule around that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 52:32
Solution, seven, use reading to learn. So of course, reading is one of the most important ways we learn and retain information. So what topic Do you want to learn about, so find a book or a website or a magazine and get after it. So like I said, I’m currently planning a trip. And so my reading has really focused on the history of the place I’m going to and so everything, like I’m learning about the Roman bath system, I’m learning about the Norman invasion, I’m learning about King Henry the Eighth and all of his wives. I’ve also been learning about the role of the Dover castle during World War Two and the history of manufacturing in Manchester, and of course, the finest wall and the cops wall. So of course, you can probably guess where I’m going, I’m heading to England in a few weeks. And of course, by the time I land, I will be a veritable walking Dictionary of all things. British, my traveling companions may or may not appreciate this. But I’m certain that the reading I have done in preparation for my trip will definitely enrich my experience. So I am, I’m actually really excited about it. So we’ll see, I’ll just have to, I have to keep my like no at all in chat. So that will be that will be the challenge for me. So solution eight. So I just talked about reading to learn.
Dr. Melissa Smith 54:00
And now the next solution is you could just read to escape.So this is why we have the beach read, right? You’ve heard about the beach read. And of course, the entire Roma romance genre, because like there’s very little learning going on there. So it is okay. that reading is also entertainment. And in fact, that’s a really great and important function that reading serves. So if you have any downtime, my my favorite activity for relaxing is reading like without a doubt. And so reading doesn’t have to be always about learning it can be about escaping, and that is totally appropriate. Like if you’re always escaping, that could be problematic if you’re escaping so much that you’re going to get fired from your job that would be very problematic. But of course reading to escape has its place and is not necessarily a problem.
Dr. Melissa Smith 54:56
Okay, solution nine challenge yourself. So set a reading goal. So right I in solution three, I talked about tracking reading goals with Goodreads, which is a really nice way to do that. So last year, I read 100 books. So some of those I listened to just so you know, which was awesome. And this year, my goal is to read 120 books. So it’s a big goal. And it will definitely be a stretch for me this year, but I’m really excited about it. And so far, so good, like I’m on track so far. So, of course, there are other goals other than the number of books you read. And that might not always be a great goal for you, because sometimes you’re too focused on just the number. But maybe you decide to read all the books by a particular author, so Jane Austen, anyone, but that would definitely not be my husband’s goal. Or you want to read all the books in a series, so maybe tells of Narnia sound exciting. Or maybe you just want to get through your stack of work periodicals by the end of the summer. So I would just say that’s your goal, go heavy on the skim, to skimming, set a goal and then work consistently to reach it. You’ll feel competent, and who knows, you may just learn something along the way. So imagine that!
Dr. Melissa Smith 56:06
Solution 10 develop speed reading skills. So for real, so Okay, now I’m, I’m one that really takes great pleasure in reading, especially a great literary novel, where every sentence is a jewel, I love those books. So don’t speed read those books. But sometimes you just need to get through material that is useful. But it’s not, it’s not necessary to read every single word on a page. So speed reading can be really helpful in these situations. So did you know that there are courses in speed reading, and there are probably some very useful tutorials online about speed reading, I’ve never taken a tutorial, but I’ve kind of taught myself over the years how to do some speed reading. And I find that depending on the material, I can skip like every three to four sentences, and sometimes more and still retain most of the material. So you just kind of have to play around with it a little bit. But, you know, depending on the material, you can, you can get away with that. So I do have to put in a word of warning here. I think this goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, because hey, I’m a nice girl. Don’t do this. If your life depends on it, your grade depends on it. Or you will experience like catastrophic engine failure, because you missed the second sentence that instructed you to run your performance vehicle with one brand of motor oil instead of another. I will not be held responsible, but you probably will be quite upset because you didn’t pay better attention. So just be wise when when you decide what you’re going to speed read.
Dr. Melissa Smith 57:42
Okay, enough said solution 11. Pay attention to book reviews and recommendations, but don’t be ruled by them. So I really like to read book reviews, and I tend to agree with them. But sometimes I totally disagree with them. I tend to like, like award winners, but others are totally repelled by books that have won awards. And I would just say to each his own, so kind of you want to learn your reading style and respect that. So I also pay attention to what my friends are reading. So see the super geek up that solution three when I tend to watch what my friends are reading, but I am cautious about sharing my take on books that they loved or hated. Because you know what, this can ruin a friendship. For real. I’m only slightly exaggerating. And by the way, I am always slightly exaggerating. So let’s talk a little bit about the book the shack. And if you love this book, like more power to you. So I for 1 am still trying to read my psyche of this disastrous book. I gosh, it’s a strong word, but I kind of hated the book with like a capital H.
Dr. Melissa Smith 58:58
I just did not love this book. And my guy my guy friend hated hated the book with a bolded capital H. I mean, he loathes the book. And we were pretty smug about it. Yeah, it was it wasn’t good. And then the reviews of our friends started coming in and guess what? They loved it. Like everyone loved it. Everyone loved this book. The whole freakin world love this book except us. So I’ve decided like I’m pretty sure we’re just reprobates. Yeah, that’s that’s what I’ve decided. So anyway, it almost came to blows with my good brother in law, who had like a spiritual experience with this book. And like lots of people did, because like there’s a lot of there’s a lot of things about this book that are very spiritually minded. And so, you know, he was he was he felt pretty upset that we didn’t appreciate the symbolism of the book, but we really didn’t and maybe we maybe we just tend to be up to speed. There’s one of my 25 cent words, it’s not that we didn’t see the symbolism so much that we didn’t appreciate the symbolism, like, not at all. So there’s more, and my best friend loved it. I’m telling you, everyone I knew loved this book. So our relationships barely survived the publication of that book. And then it gets better the movie came out. Well, by the time the movie came out, we had learned our lesson, and we kept our big fat mouth shut until now. Now I’m doing a podcast about it. So some people will never learned. But all of this is to say that you will not agree with everyone’s take on a book, nor will everyone agree with your take on a book. And that’s okay. Or at least it needs to be okay. So you can still break bread together, you can still be friends. And if you can tolerate some conflict, you might just have some rousing conversations about the books. And actually, I have, I’ve had some great conversations with friends and family members. And some of the some of the best conversations have been like heated debates about books that, you know, maybe I loved and they hated and vice versa. The more I read, though, the more I understand my own reading style, and those who have a similar reading style. So for instance, most of the books my best friend recommends, I know that I will like and will often read the same book at the same time, and then go on a hike and discuss it. I have mentioned, I’m a super key. So that that’s totally a super geek thing to do. And I definitely do that. Now, the one person that I know absolutely, without a doubt, will love any book that I read. And vice versa is my sister, like she and I are, we just read So similarly, so we are very passionate about the same themes. And our emotional responses are very similar. And so stories resonate very similarly for us. So any book she recommends, always goes to the top of my mastery list, because I just know I will love it if she loved it. And it’s really interesting, because over the years, we will talk about our favorite books, and they’re always the same books. So it’s, it’s actually been a really cool thing.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:02:24
Okay, solution 12. Read by the seasons, just like you may dress for the season read according to the season. So this is a fun way to orient each season. So I love reading like a big tome every fall. So heavy dance historical, preferably involving Russians, or at least Eastern Europeans. So of course, I do not want to be in Siberia in July. So light and airy does the trick in the summer months, or especially after a dense read, I want something lighter. And of course, everyone needs a beach read for the beach. I mean, that’s why you do a beetroot for the beach, you want something like you want something fun.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:03:04
Solution 13. And this is related to the other one read according to your mood. So consult your mood when you’re choosing a book. So what kind of reading speaks to you? Do you need something to boost your mood, something that will bring you hope? Well, if you need something to boost your mood, stay away from the Russians. Okay, I’m just saying you’ve been warned. Maybe you want an a gritty crime novel novel to speak to your inner sleuth, pay attention to your mood and read accordingly. So books are kind of like music, they can have a powerful impact on your mood. So you do want to be cautious here. If you’re struggling to hang on reading a dark book that lacks hope is not what the doctor ordered. So be mindful of that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:03:52
Solution 14 read consistently, the guide for most school age kids is to read for 20 to 30 minutes every day. And I’d say that’s a pretty good target for adults as well. So I do have a little story about this. So when I was starting my Ph D program, so I had already done a master’s degree. So I had already done graduate school and had done graduate school successfully. But as I started my Ph D program, I thought, Gosh, I’m not gonna have I can’t afford to take time to read for pleasure, like I really need to give all my focus and attention to this PhD and get going on my dissertation and everything like that. And so I kind of decided at the beginning of my Ph. D program that I would need to be done with pleasure reading while I did my Ph. D program, which now I think about that, like kind of breaks my heart a little bit. And so I stopped doing any pleasure reading for the first two weeks of my PhD program. And then after two weeks of severe insomnia. I started pleasure reading again because why What I found is, what I would typically do is I would read for pleasure at night in bed before I would go to sleep for like 20 to 30 minutes. And it was the perfect wine down for sleep. And it helps me to get my mind off of the events of the day, and settle down for sleep. And so my decision to to not read for pleasure anymore meant that I was going to bed, thinking about everything I had done that day, everything I needed to do the next day. And so my mind was never winding down, and therefore I could not get to sleep. And so like I said, After two weeks of severe insomnia, I decided, like I could not afford not to read for pleasure. And so that’s something that I’ve definitely been doing consistently, again, is reading for pleasure every single day. And definitely every night, I read for pleasure, even if it’s just for a few minutes, depending on how tired I am. But it really does help me to kind of transition for sleep better.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:06:11
Okay, so solution 15, give yourself a break between books. So it’s also okay to give yourself a break from reading. So sometimes after I finished a big book, I need some time to process it, or just some time to not think about it. So take a couple days off before you jump into something else. it sometimes takes me a couple days to figure out what I’d like to read next. And I try to keep a variety of books on hand from different genres so that I have some good options to choose from, depending on my mood. So okay, that’s kind of funny, because like, Who am I kidding, I have a serious problem with buying books. So I always have a ton of books on hand to choose from.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:06:49
Okay, so solution 16. And this is related to the last one. So refresh your palate. Okay, so this is gonna sound really weird. But if you’ve just made it to solution 16 on a podcast about reading, what do I have to lose? You’re still with me. So here we go. So you know how fancy restaurants they have a palate cleanser in between courses. It’s usually very light, refreshing, and just enough to get you ready for the next course. Well, I tend to do a palate cleanser in between books with magazines. So after I finish a book, I got to process what I’ve read. And as I mentioned before, I just need a break from a big book. So usually, like always through some of my magazines, and they totally act like a palate cleanser. So they’re refreshing. They’re like, they give me a bit to think about, but they’re not too filling. And they kind of get me ready to think about the next course or the next book that I’d like to read. So it’s kind of fun. It’s a nice way to kind of mix it up. And for me to kind of consider, okay, like, what do I want to read about next, because magazines are kind of a hodgepodge of different topics. So that’s been kind of a fun little pattern that I’ve developed over the years.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:08:00
So there you go, 16 Solutions. There you have it, I have got a summer reading program for you. So Matt might not be quite as magical as my grandmother’s attic, I would say not much is, but I’ve got you hooked up with 10 benefits of reading and 16 count them 16 solutions to help you get the most out of reading this summer. And I really hope that you will get the most out of reading this summer because it has so much to offer. So Jim Rohn, who’s a great leader and entrepreneur said this reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary. And it really is true that readers are leaders and leaders are readers. So strengthen your leadership skills by honing your commitment to reading. So make sure you head on over to my website, check out the show notes with all of the great resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-7 One more time. That’s www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-7 as in the numbers seven. So another fun way that we can connect is on Goodreads. So it’s been such a great resource for me to keep track of books. So if you want to connect with me on Goodreads, you can find me there. I think I’m just under Melissa h Smith. It’s got my picture. So I’d love to connect with you there. And then of course as I mentioned at the beginning of the podcast, I have a freebie with this podcast with some of my favorite reads. Some of them are for fun, some of them are related to leadership, some are self help, summer historical. So if you’ll go to the website with Episode Seven, you can download the freebie there and that will get you going on your summer reading guide. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work, work and love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai