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Ever go to a seminar or coaching event and the speaker rattled off a list of books that you needed to read?  Or one of your co-workers told you that they had just finished the best book they ever read for their business and you just had to read it?

Then, with the advent of Amazon, you sit there and buy the book.  It comes in and it sits on your bedside table or your desk and eventually finds its way to the bookshelf and there it sits.  All that wonderful information that is passing you by, that actually could be a great help, or it could just confuse you more. And, in order for a book to make a difference in your life, you have to actually read the thing.

I have a few rules of thumb that work to help me with what I should and should not read.  And why.

Who

First, look at the source of the suggestion.  I try to surround myself professionally with others who are doing as well, or better than me at their life.  And I say LIFE.  Not just business.  I have a top five list that I will be happy to share with you in my next blog – and who these people need to be, but the skinny is that I want to grow in all aspects of my life, and not just my business.  I need to know the people who are winning at this.  I also have a favorites list of coaches, authors and go-getters that I follow on social media that I take recommendations from almost always at face value.   These are the people who “I stand on the shoulders of” to make my world a better place.  So if you get a book suggestion that may help you, look at the source.  Is this someone that I would take advice from – or even better…criticism?  If your answer is yes, then this passes the first test.

Why

Next step, take the opportunity to ask, “why did you find this book helpful”  or even better, “what one thing did you implement in your life from the book that made a difference?”  Wow. Right?  Because with these questions, you may quickly find that this highly recommended book was only mentioned because they saw it on a best sellers list or on a random coaching site.  Listen to what your colleague has to say about their choice and the impact it had.

(of course if someone like my hero, Tim Ferris suggests something I usually jump -he writes a wonderful review and boils down the book to its purpose – thanks Tim – saves me a lot of time!)

What

What topic does this address?  In your life list you have a series of goals and aspirations.  We know where our lives need improvement, where we should leverage our talents and hand off the rest.  If you are not working on a start-up and someone refers to a great book on venture capitalism, unless you are really just looking for something random to lull you to sleep or you just get excited for economics, pass.  Look for those books that will catapult you out of a rut, or show you how to expand your mind, look for better opportunities, or hone a skill.

When

OK – this is all you! – When are you really going to read this?  (ahem…time blocking)  and do you have twenty other books on your desk you are trying to get to?  I will tell you that you have to pick and choose your books like they are precious stones.  The author took the time to put all this information together and you owe yourself and them the time to absorb it in the right frame of mind for it to do any good.  You should give yourself the opportunity to really look at the material with an open mind.  So, the test of time is your next filter.

Where

Now, if all the requirements are met, except the “when” – then Amazon has a wonderful feature on it’s site to allow you to save your wish list.  I use this ALL THE TIME, so I don’t forget that I know about the book, because sometimes there are some really wonderful finds that don’t make best seller lists but still pack a great punch.  Or if you hear something about a book and you don’t want it escaping your memory just put it in the wish list – you can go back later and peruse the reviews to see if it really is a good fit for you!

Best thing that I can tell you, read voraciously but, books, like food, aren’t all created equal and what we put in our minds matters and your time is precious!