Are you a business owner, executive or someone trying to better themselves personally and professionally? I certainly hope the last one is true of most. If so, I have something to ask you… How many books do you read a year?

I ask this question because books can be such an incredible source of knowledge that we may not have access to in any other way. Successful scientists, business entrepreneurs, and people have told their stories through books. However, it’s said that most Americans read on average four books a year. The fact of the matter is, once we are out of school, reading tends to drop off significantly in America. There is one exception, CEOs. It’s been reported that many CEOs read upwards of 50-60 books a year. That sounds insane compared to the average American, though it may explain their continued success. I know what many of you are thinking, “There is no way I could read 50-60 books a year.” Believe me, I am right there with you. I know it is taboo to say, but I have never enjoyed reading. I was diagnosed with a comprehension disability when I was young that has always made reading more of a chore, and I would do just about anything I could to avoid it. However, thanks to technology, reading has become a new passion of mine.

Technology brought reading into the 21st century. With devices like Kindle, Nook, and the IPad, we can purchase and be reading a book in a minute. Not to mention, take them anywhere we go. Then other services like Audible have done the same with audiobooks, so we can listen to them while driving or anywhere else we may be.  If time is still too much of a constraint, check out Blinkist. This German company will do most of the work for you. Their team will read books, pull out the key insights and put them together in an easy-to-digest book summary, usually about 15-minutes long, that you can either listen to or read. While you will not get everything from the book, you will get the primary key points, and sometimes that is enough.

Now that we have all these ways to read more books a year, why should we? When CEOs were asked why they read so much, one answer kept showing up over and over again… that is where I get my ideas. Having read this about CEOs, I decided I was going to make an effort to read more. I knew it would not be easy for me, so I decided to go the audiobook route. I figured I spent enough time in my car, that listening to books would be time well spent. I immediately understood what the CEOs were saying. The more I listened, the more my mind went into overdrive. Ideas seemed to come out of thin air where before I struggled and seemed to come up with nothing. I often found myself stopping to write thoughts down so I would not lose them. It was like suddenly being let in on this incredible secret.

No matter who you are or where you are in your life, reading is essential. I was so inspired, I even started my own women’s business virtual book club so that I had a group of like-minded individuals to discuss these books with and to share ideas. At the time, I didn’t see any business book clubs out there, now they are popping up everywhere. It has been a game changer for me personally and for my business, and I don’t appear to be alone. It makes sense. We spend our formative years reading in school to learn everything from history, reading, science, etc; why should we think this would change?

Looking for a few good business books to read, here are a few suggestions I have recently read:

  1. Secrets of Six-Figure Women, by Barbara Stanny
  2. The Male Factor, by Shanuti Feldhahn
  3. Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg
  4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R Covey
  5. The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller & Jay Papasan
  6. Never Split the Difference, by Chris Voss
  7. The E-Myth Revisited, by Michael Gerber
  8. Leading with Questions, by Michael Marquardt
  9. The Psychology of Selling, by Brian Tracy
  10. Pitch Anything, by Oren Klaff

Happy Reading or Listening!