Do you wish you could read more? I’ve discovered a way to (maybe).
Imagine you’ve been given the opportunity to teach a special course – on any subject you want – to a classroom full of eager students.
I would teach a class on writing. But what would the reading list be?
I created one, and I called it “Writing Well”:
- How to Write a Good Advertisement by Victor O. Schwab
- Impossible to Ignore by Carmen Simon
- The Fantasy Fiction Formula by Deborah Chester
- Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
- Writing for the Web by Lynda Felder
- On Writing by Stephen King
- Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
- Writing Novels That Sell by Jack Bickham
- Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain
- Creating Characters: How to Build Story People by Dwight V. Swain
This is how I first started thinking about reading lists. And I wondered if they could help me in some way.
I was feeling dissatisfied with the amount I was reading. I think the MORE you read, the more dissatisfied you are with how LITTLE you read. Also, it takes much less energy to watch YouTube after a long day of work than read a book, and sometimes that’s exactly what I do.
I became a little obsessed, as I do, and concocted several reading lists, consisting of books I hadn’t read, as if I were preparing to teach half a dozen more classes. With help from a friend, I created a Best Fantasy Novels syllabus. Then I created a Psychology of Marketing reading list (largely co-opted from Scott Adams), and a Rule the World syllabus, full of how-to books on key life skills.
The syllabus format motivates me because I like:
- Checking items off a list
- Seeing the big picture
- Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: Reading the books will be fun, but I’ll also enjoy saying I completed this list.
- The Zeigarnik effect (the sometimes overwhelming urge to complete what you’ve started)
Does the idea of a reading syllabus intrigue you? Do you already have reading lists? Are they filled with books you wish you had already read? I had a professor who said that everyone wishes to have written, but not many wish to write – and reading is similar to writing in enough ways that I feel this to be an important and pertinent question.