The Value of Half Read Books.

I have more than 700 books in my collection, many of them are unread, or half read. I used to beat myself up over that fact. But now I realize the value of half-read books.

You may be trying to visualize these 700 plus books. Imagining I have walls and walls of bookshelves, stacks of books beside my bed, in the living room, and strewn across my office space. feed your brain books

Lucky for me (and my family) my collection crosses all formats (ebook, paperback, hardcover, audio) and several platforms (Kobo, Kindle, Play, Audible, Chirp – to name a few). Keeping the physical clutter to a minimum.

Each time I finish a book, I search my library for my next read. Recently I was struggling to decide what to read next when I discovered about one-third of my collection have either never been opened, or are less than 50% complete.

  • What was it about the half-read books?
  • Am I wasting money buying the wrong books?
  • Do I get distracted from completing a book?
  • Should I stop buying books until I catch up on my reading? [Surely not!]

Why are books left half-read?

It was time to do some investigating. Luckily, I’ve been tracking my reading to share my finds with you. Usually, I’ll read one or two books each week. I was in a good rhythm until a work project pulled me away for a week. I started back the following week only to be drawn away by another project. All of a sudden I looked up, and it was the end of March!

When I pulled the data together, I realized I had started no less than 12 books in the past few weeks, and finished six of those 12.

What was happening?

I looked at which books were half-read and which I completed. Then I looked at my calendar to match the books with other activities. And there it was, right in front of me the entire time: clients.  

As I aligned the books with my client conversations, I realized why I had started so many books and not finished them. I was hopping from book to book to help my clients!

One of the many things I do to help my clients is take on the explorer role. Alongside them I search for inspiration to help them: understanding their obstacles more deeply; find new perspectives to bring into our discussions; make new connections to solve old problems, and inspire creative problem-solving. Often when I’m reading a book, I’ll find something to bring to a client and then stop reading.

The beautiful thing about these half-read books is they are now in my brain and in my library and I know I’ll go back to them in the future. When I do, I’ll make sure to share them with you (and maybe sooner!)

The Book List: Staying Creatively Productive

The reading theme for March emerged in hindsight. Each of these books was selected to help myself or a client overcome an obstacle to staying creatively productive. Maybe they’ll help you too!

Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration: Learn to Nurture a Lifestyle of Creativity 

Written by K.M.Weiland; Narrated by Sonja Field; Format: Audible (I also have the ebook)

This is a short read (or listen) sharing common blocks to creative productivity. Though it’s for the fiction writer, I found many of the elements applied to general struggles of getting our work done as indie professionals. There are good questions to help explore and do some self-reflection as well as strategies to try for getting through the blocks. My philosophy: if even one of these strategies helps, it’s worth the time to read this book.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

Written by Mark Manson; Narrated by Roger Wayne; Format: Audible

If the title isn’t enough warning, there are curse words used in this book. And I must say, they are well utilized. The delivery in the audiobook version adds to the overall experience. It’s part attitude adjustment, part entertainment, and a powerful reminder of the uncertainty and absurdity of life and how we need to take responsibility for how we live it. This book is good medicine to prescribe every now and again.

The Magic of Tiny Businesses: You Don’t Have to Go Big To Make a Livingh

Written by Sharon Rowe; Format: ebook

The title of this book is misleading. Though the story is enjoyable, it is not at all about a tiny business that earns a living. It’s about a focused business that grows enough to need a warehouse full of product and several employees to run it. From that perspective, it wasn’t helpful for the one person business. Of course, there are always lessons to be learned from an experienced entrepreneur, and I did appreciate that she shared her story and those lessons.

Stop Procrastinating: A Simple Guide to Hacking Laziness, Building Self Discipline, and Overcoming Procrastination

Written by Nils Salzgeger; Format: ebook

Permission to belly laugh: I kept putting off reading this book. Yep, I procrastinated on reading the book on procrastination. Partly because I’ve read many books on the subject and yet I still suffer from procrastination. This book is full of great strategies, tools, and suggestions for sorting out your own issues with procrastination. As a matter of fact, this book is what lead me to my next recommendation on self-compassion.

Self Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

Written by Kristin Neff; Narrated by Xe Sands; Format: audiobook

This book had the most impact on me this month. I won’t be able to do it justice with only a paragraph. I can say the audiobook will provide you with a better experience than print only. The narrator, Xe Sands does an exceptional job emoting the compelling and real stories shared by Kristin Neff. Her research and the structure of providing her own stories as a demonstration of the strategies adds strength to the experience.

I’m not a big fan of positive affirmations. This book provided a healthier perspective. Repeating a positive affirmation won’t make the suffering go away. This book has a more grounded approach, and I appreciated the acknowledgment that life is made up of both suffering and joy. There are useful strategies within this book to help us each ‘ride the wave.’ It was also helpful for me in dealing with my procrastination.

The Value of All Books

I enjoy learning from, about, and experiencing the thoughts of another human. How they see the world, how they live their lives. Even reading fiction can help us develop empathy for others – which is critical in our professional lives. Just think, when you read a book you’re engaging in a type of conversation with somewhere else in the world and sometimes from another time.

What are you reading?

I’d love to know what books you’re reading (or half reading!) Have you recently read a book that had an impact on your life or work? Send me a note and tell me more. I’m curious and always looking for more books to add to my collection.