The Pleasure of Reading

I often hear people wonder what they will do if they longer had to work for a living and that life would be boring when they retire. For me, it is a no brainer, when the time comes and I have to say goodbye to the 9 to 5 I will gladly read more.

Nothing gives me more pleasure than sitting in a green park with a well written book. Not working full time will give me even more tome to indulge myself in this nourishment for the soul.

Where will mankind be if writing was not invented? Again the answer is not that difficult; mankind will probably still be in the caves. For it is through writing that all knowledge is stored for future generations to read and push further our understanding of the universe and ourselves.

For some, reading is what they did when they were in school and now that they have finally left school behind, reading is the least of their priorities. For me, school was just the beginning and even then I enjoyed reading. These days I read more books in a year than I did in my 5 years as an undergraduate. And as with most things in life, you get better as you do more; you read faster and assimilate more.

So what do I read these days?

Finance & Investing

I have a library of more than two thousand books (paper and e-books) and about 30% are on finance and investing. I became interested in finance and investing while working at Citibank in the 90s. Over two decades later, it is still what interests me the most. Favorite writers are Niall Ferguson, Michael Lewis, Roger Lowenstein, Aswath Damodaran and John Kenneth Gailbraith.

General Management

I became interested in management during my MBA studies and I have found books to be invaluable in honing my management style. Writers like Charles Handy, Peter Drucker, Henry Mintzberg, Michael Porter and Clayton Christensen have been influential in shaping my understanding of management.

Leadership

This is another area that I found interesting and has also been instrumental in my appreciation of how influential leadership is in shaping the destinies of organizations and countries. Michael Useem, Linda Hill, Warren Bennis, John Kotter, Daniel Goleman and John Adair are some of my favorites.

Biography

It was Hadiza Ambursa that introduced me to this genre and I thank her for it. Biographies of Thatcher, Carly Fiorina, Condoleezza Rice, Churchill, Lee Iacocca, Jack Welch have been inspiring.

Religion

I have a good number of books on religion mostly Islam and comparative religion. Books by Hassan Le Gai Eaton, Martin Lings, Muhammad Assad and Hamza Yusuf have been illuminating.

Philosophy

As a science major, philosophy was never really on the cards, so I discovered it late. And surprisingly it was while watching a movie and a character quoted the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. And I asked myself, who is this Sartre? The rest one hundred plus books later is history. The ancient Greeks are a joy to read for their writings are far more interesting and relevant than 18th to 20th-century philosophers who wrote in terse and inaccessible prose. Among Roman philosophers, Cicero was a great writer and thanks to the writers who translated his works into modern English, one can enjoy Cicero’s genius.

Nowadays, there are several contemporary philosophers who are trying to make philosophy more accessible to the general reader. Writers such as Julian Baggini, A. C. Grayling and William Irvine are among the best.

General

These are non-fiction books in other areas of general interest outside of the above categories. Self-help books, works of the likes of Malcolm Gladwell, Steven Levitt and Michael Green provide additional variety and extends one’s understanding of human nature and the world.

So do you find pleasure in reading and if so what do you read?

2 comments

  1. It is iteresting to see the wide range of areas you read.
    I do enjoy reading when I can squeeze from daily chores. My current interests are limited to Fiction, Religion and History.
    From an early age, I was fascinated by accounts from the early Greek and persian era. This later grew to become an interest in learning detals of previous era’s.
    On fiction, I think I first got hooked from the oral stories when we were kids, and progressed from early age to the childhood books. Later I diversified into almost all sub-genres of fiction. SOme of my favourite authors Include Grisham, Archer, and Crichton.

    Your view on philosohpy books sounds interesting, I may have to try it out to see if I’ll be hooked.

  2. @Abubakar Thanks for checking in. Yes you should branch out and read the likes of Gladwell, Michael Green, Michael Lewis and Charles Handy. Biographies of great business and political leaders are also worth a try.

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