The New York Times published a story this morning about how bestselling author, James Patterson, will start publishing smaller books, starting in June. Why smaller books? Patterson wants to sell books (under $5) to people who have abandoned reading for television, video games, movies, and social media, says The NYTimes.

As a male, who hated reading growing up — my parents had to bribe me to read — I’m not convinced shorter books are the best way to get reluctant readers to love reading.

Here’s why: reading is boring — whether the book is short or long.

And I’d even go as far to say: reading books is so boring it’s becoming obsolete.

Before you flip out, or worse, stop reading this, let’s think about these two statements for a moment.

What is the purpose of a book?

To entertain and/or to educate. To preserve one’s ideas. To communicate status.

But how can a book be boring if it’s purpose is to entertain? Surely, you haven’t been reading the right kinds of books.

As it turns out, that’s the #1 solution to get kids to fall in love with reading — let them choose books they want to read, and celebrate those choices. In 2011, James Patterson wrote about this idea in an article for CNN. He said:

Boys should be made to feel all squishy inside about reading graphic novels, comics, pop-ups, joke books, and general-information tomes — especially the last. GuysRead.com has categories such as “Robots,” “How to Build Stuff,” “Outer Space, but with Aliens,” and “At Least One Explosion.” It’s a wonderful site for finding books that will turn boys on to reading.

Teachers and school administrators might want to consider this: in many schools, there’s a tendency not to reward boys for reading books like “Guinness World Records” or “Sports Illustrated Almanac” or “The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll.” Too often, boy-appealing books are disproportionately overlooked on recommended reading lists.

Big mistake. Tragic mistake. Avoidable mistake. It’s all about attitude. If your kids’ school library isn’t a boy magnet, the school probably needs to check its attitude.

 

Makes sense. But let’s think about the purpose of a book again.

Can a video entertain, educate, preserve ideas, and convey high status?

Yes, to all of the above, except for conveying high status.

It’s no surprise that kids and adults like learning and being entertained now more through digital media than books. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, digital media engages more of your five senses than books ever will.

Of course, some of you reading this probably prefer books to movies or video games, I am one of you, but we’re a dying breed. Kids born today don’t “get” magazines. What does that tell you?

Don’t books aggregate complex thoughts better than digital media? Yes, for now. But soon that won’t be the case. For example, look at a 19-minute TED Talk. The majority of people giving TED Talks are authors, and almost invariably they’re all able to distill their book’s big idea down to a 19-minute visual presentation.

Which brings us to another question: What is the purpose of reading a book?

Typically you pick up a book for one of two reasons: to learn something new; or to be entertained; hopefully both. Now that we’ve established that digital media can, for the most part, accomplish what books can do — but in a faster and more entertaining way — there has to be another reason why humans read books?

I’d argue it is for status.

People pay a lot of money to have enormous libraries, and will go out of their way to carry around cumbersome books in public, talk about and post pictures on social media of all the books they’re reading, and to what end? To look smart. Education is a symbol of status.

I think a better angle to get kids and adults reading again — especially in the times we live in today — is to play up the benefits of reading for status.

Look at who kids and adults idolize? The Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musks of the world. Smart, nerdy, rich guys. And if movies have taught us anything, it is that rich guys attract women.

I fell in love with reading because of a girl. Yep, a girl I liked in University was really into reading. She was beautiful, smart, and read a lot, so I decided I was going to learn to love reading. Eventually, I got addicted to books. How’s that for motivation?

Another way to get kids to read is to validate reading as something cool and leverage the power of mental models. Robin Sharma created the 5 a.m. Club — a club for entrepreneurs and high achievers who take pride in waking up at 5 a.m. every day.

Is getting up early cool? No, and neither is sleeping in.

But everyone knows the early bird gets the worm, so Sharma validated the idea of getting up early as something cool that high achievers can share.

This might sound like I’m promoting reading for all the wrong reasons. I am. But, I think the pros outweigh the cons here.

The benefits of reading in our society are plenty, just like getting up early. If you can convince kids that reading is cool and a symbol of high status that society values, I think that’s a better approach to take than trying to play up the confidence angle of having kids read 20 short books in a week.

Of course, reading 20 books in a week and bragging about it on Instagram is another way to show you’re high status. So maybe Patterson’s idea will work after all.

Nick Papple,
Managing Editor
The Daily Brief
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Why Launching a Startup is The Best Thing You Can do With Your Life

After a C-level career in finance I decided to launch my own start-up. I was happy working in the city of London, the environment in the company was great, the owners were just yet inspiring. Nonetheless, somehow it was never enough and I dreamed of something more.

Two reasons why you should stop working for someone else

In March 2014 I decided to quit and start on my own. I didn’t know what I was going to do or which direction to go, but I felt it was a rational decision I will not regret. My main reasons for quitting were simple.

#1 it is hard to achieve high financial goals

I realised that no matter how much I loved all the corporate life and the available resources I wasn’t getting closer to my personal financial goals. Successful companies are reluctant to make late comers equal no matter the time and effort they put in.

Even when the results are above all expectations the owners will still attribute it to the company’s generic growth. It’s very unlikely that you’ll become a multimillionaire working for someone else.

#2 It’s hard to feel complete

I always compared myself to other people in the organisation, as a matter of fact that is what all of us are doing when we are working for someone else. We compare ourselves to the people inside and outside the firm.

No matter how much I put in I always felt that I could do more. Nonetheless, I didn’t see good reasons to work an 18-hour day if I will not be made equal. Don’t get me wrong I worked very hard, but I wasn’t “all-in”.

Four reasons to start on your own

It might be hard to find the right idea at the start. Most of my ideas were crazy or stupid, or both. Some of them didn’t make any sense. Until one day… I was back in the UK looking for a horse riding weekend trip in Surrey.

It took me two hours precisely to find what I was looking for. Let it sink in. With an average pay of £500 an hour I hypothetically spent £1000 doing a “monkey search” through Google.

That’s how ActivityFan – the activity booking marketplace was born. As soon as I started working on my own start-up I realized that I will never be able to go back to working for someone else and here is why.

The challenge is real

No matter how challenging your current job is having a start-up will always be much more challenging. It’s green field and you have to build everything from the start. You will not be stuck in routine ever again. It’s requires enormous amount of effort to even get your project of the ground.

If you’ll decide to self-fund you will feel the pressure of having to get rolling before you become flat broke. Trust me it’s the most motivating kick on the backside you can experience. If you ever felt like: “I don’t feel like working today” it will never happen again.

It boosts your creativity

Limited resources will force you to focus on the most effective ways of achieving results. No matter if we are talking about marketing or simply getting things done, you’ll learn to think outside of the box.

It takes up all your time and you don’t mind

When you have a start-up there is no difference between work time and free time. As a matter of fact, all of your free time becomes your work time and all your work time becomes your free time. You’ll enjoy every day. At time it might be hard, but the satisfaction of moving forward outweighs all the tiredness.

You love it with all your heart

You might have heard people saying: “having a start-up is like having a baby” and it’s completely true. The only thing you can talk of is your start up, the only thing you think of is your start-up and you love it with all your heart. It defines you and makes you complete, every success story is your personal success and every failure simply motivates you to keep on going.

Launching a startup is the best thing you can do with your life, but are you ready for the challenge?

This post was written by Elina Pedersen. Elina is a traveller (over 60 countries) and the founder of Activity Fan  – the activity booking marketplace. Elina was born in Estonia, but she lived in Netherlands, Australia, and USA. Elina currently resides in UK. Her main goal is to help people find their next big adventure, as well as to support small-local businesses worldwide.

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