In this new digital era, information is at your fingertips. Do you want to know how tall is the Eiffel Tower? Google it. How about if you want to know why is the sky blue? Ask Siri. You get the picture. The point is, to read a physical book has become a relic of the past, like riding a horse. Unnecessary, useless, mundane.
The problem with this idea is the fact that any time you watch an interview on YouTube where a podcaster is interviewing a leader in whatever field it is that they are leading, it is almost guaranteed that behind that leader, you will find a personal library. Not a Kindle, and definitely not Alexa. A personal library. Why are books still relevant in spite of the benefits of the digital age? More specifically, why are personal libraries still relevant when public libraries are available?
What I am not saying is that public libraries are unnecessary. On the contrary, public libraries are essential for providing access to Great Ideas for everybody, regardless of their financial situation. What I am saying, however, is that a Personal Library is better than a Public Library.
- Personal books are more sensually engaging than borrowed books
Books are sensually engaging. Studies show that people who grow up in a home where books where present where more likely than those who did not to become readers. According to a study by the University of Nevada, it was shown that the difference in kids who were raised in a bookless home compared to a home filled with books had as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate (3 years of education) compared to having parents who had a university education (15 to 16 years)(University of Nevada, “Books in home as important as parents’ education in determining children’s education level,” (2010)).
We are, by nature, drawn by mystery. From diving into the depths of the sea to exploring space, we are attracted to the unknown. Looking at unread books, we wonder if they are worth the read, and, eventually, you end up picking them up.
- Personal books engage the mind more than borrowed books
Books are mentally engaging. Whenever I listen to a good speech or interview, I always think, “I wish there was a way to have my say while the thoughts are fresh.” Turns out, books provide a way to do that by annotating. By writing in the margins, by underlining and highlighting, you enter into a dialogue with the writer, and this helps sharpen your own ideas about the subject.
There are 4 levels of reading, and these are:
- Elementary Reading
- Inspectional Reading
- Analytical Reading
- Syntopical Reading (or Comparative Reading)
I will cover more in depth in the future these levels of reading, but I want to mention here that the 2 higher levels of reading (Analytical, and Syntopical) require the reader to own the books that he is analyzing, and making them your own by annotation. This is due in part of the fact that these 2 levels of reading are done to not simply know the book and the subject the writer is writing about, but to understand the book, the writer, and subject he is writing about.
- Personal books engage the heart more than borrowed books
Finally, having a personal library moves the heart to action. Borrowing a book from the library is good, but its not personal. In contrast, buying a book is personal because we are making the financial investment, hence, making us more committed on the type of book we are purchasing, making us more committed to listening to the argument the writer is making, and making us more committed to be demanding as a reader and leader.
Just like most people like to collect stuff like coins, toys, knickknacks, etc., leaders like to collect ideas. Having a personal library is literally having an Idea Collection. And this Idea Collection helps leaders sharpen their own ideas on how to solve modern problems. Most readers are not leaders, but most leaders are readers, and I believe that the key distinction here comes from people having an Idea Collection.