Reading Vacation

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Notice the vacuum cleaner in front of the bookshelf. Such disrespect for all those wonderful books.

Remember awhile back when I said I was taking November off? It’s not going well.

My first day back from a conference and people were lined up for my attention. And, of course, everything’s a crisis. Do people think I’m a machine without a need for rest?

My intentions were never to completely bow out of life. I’m not the kind of person who takes a month and does nothing or travels or other such leisure. Curiosity was breed in me and I can’t help myself. I’m like the mischievous kid who is always in trouble. Curiosity killed the cat and unfortunately I’m limited to one life. (Who wants to live forever anyway?)

The list is growing, too. An old friend from the blogger community asked me to Skype and I missed the Monday tentative appointment. I need to rectify that. (Please, God, let Skype work for me this time.)

The most important issue is hiring more qualified help for the office. Over the last week I hired one new full-time employee and think another candidate will work out in the tax preparation arena. It’s hard finding good people who want to work. I changed tactics in my hiring process and finally saw some positive results. I might even open the gate enough to allow a few new clients in. We’ll see.

Hiring takes time and I should finish the process in the next week. A few projects needing my attention in the office are front and center, plus required continuing education is slated for the 29th and 30th of this month in Green Bay.

Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina*

Before you shed a tear for my misfortune, understand hiring additional team members will free more of my future time. By training a bunch of mini-mes should produce benefits in short order. Some of the process can be handled by team members while I focus on reviewing final product.

I see you’re still chocked up. Don’t be! Conferences are hard on me as I try to give every ounce of energy I have. (Actually, I overdo it.) The recovery time takes longer as I age and this time is no different. I’ve slept more those first few days of recovery than I have in a very long time.

My days are normally short by normal working standards. I visit the gym Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week for a workout and the steam room. Gym days mean I spend about five hours at the office.

Non-gym days I get to the office about 9 and frequently leave by 3 or 4. Tax season is a bit more, of course. (Okay, a lot more.)

Then comes the reading and writing. As you know I write here three days a week, too. I cut back other writing due to the pace I keep here and the constant office workload nonexistent in the past. There was a time summer and autumn were light work schedules. What the heck happened?

Frequently people accuse me of prolific writing. Though it is true I love writing and the writing process, my favorite love (outside Mrs. Accountant) is reading. My taste in literature is catholic (notice the little c). I’ve yet to find a topic I wasn’t interested in for at least a short period of time. Believe it or not, twenty or so years ago I read a romance novel by Danielle Steel (this is the novel that did me in (damn books in the checkout line)) and was blown away. It took 80, maybe 90 novels to burn that one out of my system. (Can you see your favorite accountant on the beach reading To Love Again? Yes, I read that book. It was the second novel of my illness years.)




Never-ending Education

Novels were a large part of my reading material back then. As the years went by novels lost their grip on me. I still read fiction, just not at the same levels. The books I read now can get, well, shall we say, bulky.

Novels can teach as well as entertain. Tom Wolfe wrote A Man in Full. The story has a strong Stoic message which is why I read it from the library.

Most of what I read now is nonfiction. Once again, my tastes run catholic. As you might imagine, I read plenty on finance, economics and business. If my nose isn’t glued inside a book I’m reading similar material and news online.

Currently I still have a fetish for environmental books, especially relating to human history, climate change and how societies collapse.

Old books hold a special interest for me. An Outline of History by H.G. Wells is on my to-do list. It’s a thousand pages of deep reading from a century ago, but still good stuff. I found a copy in very good condition on Amazon for $22.99.

My primary goal when reading is satiation of my curiosity. Learning is important, but I don’t think of it that way. For me learning is entertainment. If my body were not riddled with restless anxiety I would read non-stop every moment I’m awake.

Side Effects

Writing helps you focus a thought as you express it in clear terms. Reading allows you to digest condensed information more quickly than from any other media. Successful people read.

November is my month off and while business has consumed much of this time, I still manage an excess of hours for additional reading. In short, November has turned into a reading vacation. The best part is I will probably extend the vacation into mid-December to make up for my inappropriate behavior working during a vacation. My schedule to the end of the year will be light to make room for the many books I want to pour into my skull.

Reading makes you a better writer. Writing is the most important form of communication. Documentaries and seminars all teach. But reading is faster and incorporates into your mind better than all other forms of learning. Even teachers speaking in front of a room want you to read the material, preferably before class.

My road has never been easy or straight. Reading has given me the edge over the years to win against long odds. No one has an excuse to fail! No one! In the past I would tell clients I’d make an exception for people in prison and quadriplegics. However, need I remind you of Nelson Mandela, Christopher Reeves and Stephen Hawking? Like I said, no excuse.

The common thread among winners is their thirst for knowledge and hunger for learning. People will beat you down because they are jealous while basking in the rewards of your production. Steve Jobs was both loved and hated, but no one disputes his tremendous contribution to society. Even if you don’t use Apple products, you still benefit from the children born of Jobs’s mind.

And what about your mental children? Will they ever see the light of day? Have you even given yourself permission to dream such dreams? People will take every chance to cut you down. Get used to it. It is possible to do everything right and still lose. That is not a character flaw; it is life.




Mentors

The best mentors I ever had are dead. Plato, Seneca, Will Durant and H.G. Wells have taught me how to live a joyful life. On my shelf is the Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie, perhaps the richest man to have ever lived, adjusting for inflation.

My favorite books are about successful people. Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, and many Presidents of the United States have filled my time over the years. When I start to feel down or treated unfairly I read about people who rose above the turmoil. They provide lessons through the mists of time reminding me I’m not alone; it’s all happened before. Need I remind you Isaac Newton lived in turbulent times and wasn’t universally loved? He was known to carry a grudge to the grave. Regardless, everyone of these great minds have something to teach me in good times and bad.

How I Read

Most novel I read come from the library these days. I still buy five or so novels a year if I think they will make good reference material for future writing projects. I borrow another ten or so nonfiction titles from the library annually. However, the bulk of my reading is material I own.

Books are important to me. Tim Ferris says you should just buy the book. Ramit Sethi says if he sees a book and thinks there is only a slight chance he will benefit he buys the book. According to Sethi, twenty dollars is incredibly cheap for even one idea. I agree.

One of my favorite authors, Ryan Holiday, sends a monthly email with books he recommends. At the end of each email he encourages people to buy the book. Holiday says he will find a way to own a book he wants even if it means skipping a meal. Once again, I agree. (Holiday is thin, unlike a certain accountant we will not mention. This is living proof he walks the talk. )

I know, I know. It’s self serving for me to ask you to buy the book even when it is to your advantage. Libraries are important and borrowing books from the library is a good idea. Owning books is equally important. There is a certain satisfaction with owning a book and holding it in your hand.

Every book listed in this post I’ve read with the exception of those I mentioned I own and plan on reading over the next four to six weeks. The links to Amazon are affiliate links. I do get paid if you buy the book using the affiliate link. The new commission schedule Amazon brought out a few months ago assures I will not get rich off your purchase. Physical books pay a 4.5% commission and ebooks pay 4%.

You can always go to Amazon outside the links of this blog if you are opposed to commissions on religious grounds. Or, better yet, I’ll buy you a beer the next time our paths cross.

Trust me, the beer will cost more than the commission I earned.

You keep all the knowledge.

 

* Remember, I hide messages and references within posts.



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Keith Schroeder

11 Comments

  1. Mark Porter on November 8, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Let’s not forget the library as a source for books! I look there first…then, if the book is good, I may buy my own copy for perpetuity… 🙂

    • Keith Schroeder on November 8, 2017 at 10:41 am

      I agree 100%, Mark, and do the same thing. The library is free up front and if I want to own the book I’ll buy it later.

  2. Kristine on November 8, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    When I was younger, I went to the library all the time. Now most of the books I read are books that have been recommended by people I consider influential or books I’ve seen on my mentors’ bookshelves so I’ve been purchasing them used on Amazon to add to my own bookshelf. Thanks for sharing some recommendations!

    Enjoy the rest of your reading vacation 🙂

  3. Freedom40Plan on November 8, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    I too love reading – just need to make the time to do more. I’ve read many of your recommendations here but there are a few I will add to my ever growing list. Not sure if you’re into audiobooks as well, but I find them to be great to fill in moments when I’m travelling. Plus, I can listen at 1.5x or 2x speed and still retain everything well.

  4. WealthyDoc on November 8, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    I share your love of books.
    I just finished re-reading A Man in Full. Love stoicism. Big fan of Ferriss (“2 R’s and 2S’s BTW) and Holiday too.
    I will check out some of the other books you mentioned. I’m going to a three day work week in Jan largely to have more time to read.

  5. Nords on November 8, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    Keith, I’m glad I’m not the only one who needs recovery naps after last month…

    I divide my reading choices into the categories of “broccoli” and “chocolate”. They’re both good, but only in moderation.

  6. goldfinch on November 9, 2017 at 4:30 am

    If you’re looking for recommendations, I suggest you pick up “The Boys in the Boat”. Talk about overcoming adversity! My life felt so cushy after finishing that.

    • Keith Schroeder on November 9, 2017 at 8:43 am

      I’ll check it out, Goldfinch.

  7. Ruby @ A Journey We Love on November 9, 2017 at 6:36 am

    Love reading too (hence we started reviewing books on the blog) but prefer non fiction (moneyy) or Japanese manga (everybody’s got a weakness) 🙂 Currently typing this on my kindle fire (which is full of books).

    You should consider opening a good reads account to keep track of the books ypou read (if you are that type of person who likes to list stuff)

    And like you, I do buckle down and buy books as well. I like to surprise my husband with Czechoslovakia history books – some are hard to find and man, Amazon has been a lifesaver for me. A couple of times I year, I buy books that will enhance our business (bigger pockets and Tim ferris books for instance) – that $20 is worth it if it has the potential to change your life or save us the hassle of borrowing the same book from the Library for reference every single time

    • Keith Schroeder on November 9, 2017 at 8:37 am

      Ruby, my oldest daughter has the same weakness as you. There are worse habits.

      Surprising the hubby with a book personal to him is what makes marriage awesome! The small gestures mean so much.

      I also use Amazon as you do. Hard to find books are easy to buy and usually cheap while business books tend to end up on my shelf versus from the library.

  8. MK on November 10, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    This post makes me so happy because I am taking a reading vacation as well. My books have come out in each in late October/early November which has allowed me to close out each calendar year on a reading binge. I do aim to “write everyday” like all good novelists should, but sometimes I need a break. I love have time to just read and consume. Also being a type-A FIRE person I like to work through my to-read list with the precision that I use to get through my work to-do list. Enjoy your holiday and getting lost in some fun stories!

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