Books surrounded me growing up. Our home had rooms neatly filled from floor to ceiling with books of every description. Wherever I looked, there they were: leather-bound Encyclopedia Britannica sets, shelves filled with National Geographic, Life, Newsweek and Time magazines, the complete works of Shakespeare and Dickens. I remember titles by Hemingway, Orwell, Scott Fitzgerald, Louis Stevenson, Homer, Plato, Dante, Tolstoy, Goethe, Proust, Chekov, Aesop, Poe, Wilde, Anderson, Joyce and Asimov. I remember titles by Einstein, Knuth and Wirth. Our house was also home to dozens of cold war spy, sci-fi and romance novels.
There were books on poetry, art, music, science, literature, mathematics, computing, philosophy, anthropology, religion, home economics and travel. Swimsuit editions of Sports Illustrated or Wheels Magazines were nowhere in sight. There was not a single book or magazine about sport, psychology, or business, yet I spent much of my early adult life reading about these subjects – to my parents’ amazement.
As you might imagine, in our home, books were a kind of religion and reading was sacred. I rebelled at first, preferring to be outside creating my own world. When I began to read in earnest, I learnt that one must never mark or damage a book. As my reading developed, I found myself wanting to go back for a piece of knowledge, after I had considered it. I discovered bookmarks helped. In high school, sometimes I would bend back the corners of insightful pages. At university, I adapted further and would scribble on the sticky notes I was using for bookmarks. As my library developed and my economic prosperity improved, I wrote notes in the margins of my books and underlined the best ideas.
Occasionally, I visited secondhand book shops, and there I discovered that people who write inside their books finish reading them. Research suggests that only half the people who buy a book, actually finish it and if that book is an e-book, only a third will finish it.
My latest book, The Strategy Book is already available on Amazon and arrives in stores and resellers this week. For those who buy it, I want them to write in it and capture the ideas and strategies that excite and interest them the most. Most books are one-way monologues. I have designed The Strategy Book to be a two-way dialogue. A place where you can be informed, inspired, empowered, and entertained, and a place to generate new ideas, create strategies and write them down. To this end, I have designed this book to be a deliberate blend of strategy notes and blank pages.