My year in the books

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One day in March 2017, while scrolling through LinkedIn, i chanced upon a post by Bill Gates. It was about 5 books that had made an impression on him in that year. Among the five books he presented was ‘When Breath Becomes Air’, an autobiography of Paul Kalanathi. His short review of the book was so compelling that I couldn’t wait to read the book for myself and proceeded to order it right away.

To say I cried my way through the book would almost be an injustice, and reduce the book’s many highlights only to the painful or emotional and I don’t intend to do this. I did however cry throughout and this was because his story, painful in its own right was particularly close to home for me, as my family had once again been plunged into the tumultuous fight with cancer. However, Paul’s outlook on life and perspective of his suffering gave me a new perspective about what my family and I were dealing with and strangely gave hope in the midst of the pain. One thing that particularly struck me was his expansive knowledge about a wide range of books and writers and how these had influenced his own analysis and writing, as well as his studies and career. I was inspired and decided to rejuvenate my reading habit, which had suffered a severe neglect for so many reasons, lack of intentionality being one.

Rejuvenating meant investing not only money but also time into the books. Where do I start from? Who do I read first? These were all questions that came to me and to which I soon found answers. Before I had come across and read Paul’s book, I had also been given the wonderful opportunity of watching a play by Max McLean on C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters. The play had shaken me to the core and got me thinking about so many things and asking so many questions. I had left the theatre that evening, wanting to read the book for myself but it would only be after reading Paul Kalanathi’s book that I actually make a move to acquire the book. The rest of 2017 had however been quite a tumultuous one and the only other book I had been able to read was Stay The Path, by Bobby Houston.

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As 2017 rolled to a close however, I made some decisions, among which was the decision to learn more, to stick to developing a rich reading habit and to be an informed leader. I invested in some books right away. At the end of the year, I found myself only a few books short of the target I had set for myself but I can say that its been nothing short of amazing. I have learned so much from all these books and I am so encouraged to invest in even more books, to broaden my scope, enrich my knowledge and to encourage more people to pick up the habit of reading. Reading has not only whet my apetite to read some more but has encouraged me to myself pick up the pen and write as well and I can’t wait to introduce my project in the course of the coming year.

Reading is such a wonderful thing. It takes you on a journey through the minds and lives of others and to places you sometimes havent dared to dream of. You may not necessarily live vicariously through them but the knowledge acquired can often come close to having done this. I have in many ways come to understand that although several of the experiences I have are personal, they are not exclusive to me. That many people have either walked this way or will walk this way and the experiences of those who have already walked the path can (in many cases) be invaluable help or give great perspective on the path. It alos gives me such uncouragement to write my own stories and I am excited for the adventures ahead with reading.

The books I read this year included (all links included in titles);

There were yet a few I started and could not finish and have found themselves on the reading list for 2019. I will write a separate post for my 2019 reading list.

I am grateful for the opportunity to read and for everything learned so far, for the world it’s opened my eyes to and for the ideas built up in me. My encouragement for you wherever you are on your reading journey is to keep going. You are a leader in the making and great leaders are avid readers. Start from what you love, build on it and broaden the scope. Be intentional about reading and watch it take you on journeys you never knew expected.

Kudos on your reading so far and looking forward to sharing great stories of reading escapades in the coming year. Happy New Year everyone.

What books are you currently reading? Share with us in the comments below.