Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ROI of reading a book!

Disclaimer: If only you like to read a lot of good books please go ahead.

I have heard it quite a number of times about the importance of reading a book and to be honest I don’t deny it. If nothing else it makes you feel intellectual, boosts your social image and opens your mind to different perspective. But having read a decent number of books I sometimes wonder if the money I spend on reading a book  is actually worth it, and if it is worth then do we know how to efficiently harness the returns every book offers. We all choose books as per our area of interest defined back in our mind or accepted explicitly and we tend to read books that sync up with it (poetry, management, science fiction, psychology, philosophy, fashion) etc.. But after a point the takeaways from all these books feels the same. Let me try explaining it category wise:


Timeline-15 days: As soon as you are done with the book you do remember the details about that person (Andre Agassi never wanted to play Tennis, Lance Armstrong went through gruesome pain while he underwent the surgery etc.)

Timeline-40 days : Generally these are successful people who had a struggling childhood, they started whatever they are good at, at really young age, there take on the situations (which were generally not rosy) was positive or they ended up being a drug addict, screwed up completely etc. . but finally they persevere, held their head high in the darkest of the times and came out with flying colors. And finally some dramatic incidents changed the course of their quest and they ended up being a great person they are today. Needless to mention they achieved what they ended up with only because they failed at so many other things.

Timeline- ever after: What you always knew about that person only with some fine-tuning.

Non Fiction:

Books on cities/countries (e.g. Mumbai, Iran):

Timeline -40 days and ever after: An opportunist city for struggling writers, painters, singers, dancers, actors, businesses etc… Haven for dreams, prostitution, crippling buildings, indifferent governance, films, drugs, mafia, gang lords, corruption etc.. Which are the best places to get drugs from and what powers does Shiv Sena have on the city and how everybody there kow tows them just to save their asses. How disturbing life does a prostitute have, how and which social lymph fucked them for how much money, their desperation to articulate their life story and the never ending quest to find that ultimate love, how mafia is deep-seated till the grass root level of the society and how people in slums struggle to make their ends meet.

South West Asia is always about grotesque and miserable condition of females with a life like that of a slave.  Struggling to either get out of that place or retire in submission of their ill fate. Male chauvinism haunts the underdeveloped and archaic society, government plagued with terrorism and militancy and it always paints a gloomy and depressing world in my head.

I wonder what more did I learn other than what I read before buying the book based on the reviews and of course popularity for the same.  Of course you do enjoy the style of writing and the narration with the imaginative picture you envisage while you are on the GO but are these intangibles included in the ROI. Also what sort of stories do we discuss about the book with our fellow bibliophiles, do we really discuss the writing style? Or we end our discussion with just the name of the latest book we read.

Books on Management


Timeline- 15 days: Just mention a problem to me and I know I’ll be able to help you to market your product. I have all the validated theories packed in my mind and I feel pretty good about it.

Timeline - 40 days and ever after: Time when you see a surge in your confidence level after reading that book. You feel yourself equipped with latest trend and modern theories which marketing gurus somewhere in the world are using. Books on SEO marketing, social media marketing, blogging etc… teaching you the basics of consumer psychology with detailed logical explanation.  I remember a book I read on Twitter and its various application which can be used to harness it for business (now I don’t even remember its name or anything that it elicit) and I feel pretty disappointed about it.

Self Help Book

Timeline- 15 days: I know next time when I’ll face a situation I am going to survive it unlike last time. I am going to be positive and will try to put my six thinking hats to evaluate it. Or when I am choosing I am going to not go with my automatic system but will logically siphon off the heuristics biases which I discovered in my decisions last time.

(I am currently in this timeline, will post in sometime which books inspired me to learn this laterJ )

Timeline- 40 days: I am going to be positive in every situation. Which I must honestly confess it still not the case with me,  I still take the same time to cope with the situation.

These are couple of genres I mentioned but the basis of the entire post is that mere reading a book doesn’t necessarily give you the expected ROI,  the real investment lies not in spending the money but it is in the time we spend while we read and most importantly the time we spend after we are done reading. Write, discuss and introspect (validate the theory/concepts with incidents of your life and not just the case studies they discuss) the book needs to be not just read but one should be able to feel it while and after reading if we really seek a return from it. Move beyond the generic discussions with your friends and always always try to write a review of the book for yourself so that when you move to the 16th day of reading you have something to again think about.

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