An Entrepreneur’s Alphabet: B is for Books

By rights, B should be for Budgets.   I am an accountant and a wealth coach, after all.   But right now, I find myself in the middle of a tempestuous re-ignition of a lifelong love affair with Books.   Without wishing to ‘fess up to also being a Scanner and let you know precisely how many books I am currently reading simultaneously (eight!), I will tell you about my catholic reading tastes.  In fact, I could be described right now as being on a reading jag such is the obsession. 

My current stash includes one autobiography by Diana Athill, Binge Trading, The Little Book of Twitter, The Millionaire Next Door, Scarpetta, The Glass Half Full (about optimism) Rent To Own by Robert Irwin, and my own particular favourite right now – Risk, the Science and Politics of Fear by Dan Gardner which is getting the lion’s share of my time.   I can’t go anywhere without it, always a good sign.   Sadly, I left it in the window of the car all day today in sultry temperatures and the sun melted the spine glue so all the pages are falling out!   Still, nil desperandum, I shall battle on, devouring the content.

The two books I have recently completed and enjoyed are Enemy Number One by “the UK’s Most Feared Professional Punter” Patrick Veitch and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, betting on horses and how to be successful at life.   Looks like I am finishing two in every ten I pick up.

Why do I read?   And why so voraciously and widely?  The reasons are many and various.   Some of the most important things in my life I have learned from books.   In many, I seek to recognise myself or to aspire to be a better version of me.   I especially enjoy a hero or heroine who is sufficiently like me but better, that’s very encouraging.   For relaxation, escape and entertainment.   For inspiration and knowledge, of those who have trodden my path before me and/or know better.   For the excitement of a rip-roaring page-turner.  For the peace and quiet of perhaps the most contented of pastimes. That last one makes me sound a bit like a Jane Austen character but then reading is a somewhat old-fashioned hobby.

One of my favourite games is to ask people, after an exercise taught to me by fellow coach Rachel Turner which I have never forgotten: “if this were your last day on earth, what three things would you spend your time doing”.   Don’t sweat this exercise, just keep it light-hearted and off the top of your head, quickly.   Paraphrased, it just means what are your three favourite things and how often do you remember to indulge in them.  

In the main, amongst my friends and family at least, I rarely meet anyone who doesnt have reading in their list somewhere.   One of my nephews, for example, said “playing golf, watching golf and reading about golf” and he’s only 17, 16 at the time of this quote.   And one tends not to think of teenagers these days being much into reading because of all the other easier stimuli which are available to them.   Hooray for reading, hooray for Jem.

I regularly purge my bookshelves and memorably last year had a good clearout for Children in Need and raised the best part of £1,000.   This weekend I was reminded of another way to pass on your books or liberate them, as I like to say, at a website called but perhaps the most telling thing are the books on my shelves which survive every cull: the entire Rich Dad oeuvre, A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson and A Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver and many more.   And no, you can’t borrow any of those, I might need to re-immerse myself in any one of them at any time.   Or, more likely, all three at once!

Entrepreneurs-wise my favourites are The E-Myth by that Mr Magoo, Michael Gerber, superceded these days by aspirational Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferris.

I’d tell you more about my passion for books, but I have a date – an early night with Risk or perhaps I wonder if tonight may be a Scarpetta evening?   So I shall leave you with a question:  which books do you love to read and why?

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2 Responses to “An Entrepreneur’s Alphabet: B is for Books”

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  1. Jo Dodds says:

    I was ‘painting’ a picture of my ideal day yesterday and reading (without guilt!) was a big part of it. I too have a big pile of books by my bedside, in the toilet, on the dining room table, in the sitting room, in my office etc etc! And I also finish a proportion of them whilst others sit there gathering dust as I can’t put them back on the shelf half read!

    Just finished a book for our next book club meeting (for that read business gossip /networking meeting!) called ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ set in Barcelona, which my husband also enjoyed.

    Marion – if you don’t get on with history books you could try someone like Edward Rutherfurd who writes books that include historical facts intertwined with a story through the generations. E.g. London is the first of his that I read, which starts when London was a hut on the river and finishes around the 1960s or so and follows the stories of a number of generations of a number of families. It is fascinating, and readable as there is a story to it.

    I loved Outliers, and continue to quote it to anyone that will listen! I’m currently reading (and implementing) The Power of Less by Lee Babauta.

    Every time I see or hear about a good book that I want to read I add it to my wish list on Amazon, which is getting longer and longer. I can’t seem to educate my friends and family sufficiently to use it as often as I would like! My SIL always buys me clothes, not top of my list of great presents. I would much prefer books, but I imagine she thinks that would be a boring present. Isn’t it funny how we buy what we want rather than what other people really want?!

  2. Marion Ryan says:

    It’s easier first to say what I especially don’t like to read and that would be science fiction (what are they on about?) and History which I’d like to read but find hard to understand, a limiting belief that was planted the day they gave me a U – unclassified – for my History ‘O’ Level.

    Books beside the bed right now include Jacky Newcomb “Angels to Watch Over Me”, Amanda Brookfield, “The Simple Rules of Love” and Esther & Jerry Hicks, “Money and the Law of Attraction.

    On the bed are “Talent is Over-Rated” by Geoff Colvin and last week’s You magazine from the Mail on Saturday.

    In the box beside the bed (you’ve gathered my bedroom is the crime scene) are Tim Harford’s “The Logic of Life” and Conor O’Clery’s “The Billionaire who Wasn’t – How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune”.

    Besides this current reading, I love biographies and certain crime books, both fiction and non-fiction. I don’t much like your Henning Mankell but enjoy a good Martina Cole. Ann Rule’s books fascinate me but I’ve had to give up reading true crime as I don’t like focussing on the bad stuff that real people do to each other.

    I’ll happily read chick lit – though only if the writing is up to scratch – and completely admire Maeve Binchy for writing books that engross you two paragraphs into the first chapter.

    The majority of my reading is, I realise, non-fiction in the spirit of learning something new but do you know what? Writing about books has reminded me that I should (I mean, I want to) read rather more fiction just for the sheer fun of immersing myself in some imaginary person’s life, more often.

    Thanks for letting me share just a tiny portion of what I love to read. On with the show.

    Marion x

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