As somebody who reads prolifically in the course of my work, the title and tagline of Stan Skrabut’s “Read to Succeed” struck a particularly resounding chord with me, and I was very eager to find out more from what I assumed was a study into the nurturing power of reading as exercise for your brain; reinforcement of my own belief that reading increases ones wit, intellect, wisdom, logic and general capacity to improve one’s character. This book does all that and more – it is incredibly holistic – though its focus is on increased chances of success, which, in this case, is measured by professional achievement. In this respect, then, I have to admit that I found myself a tiny bit disappointed when I realized that Stan particularly focuses on reading for professional development, therefore draining the mysticism slightly from the wondrous concept of literature’s gifts, and rendering the success which is therefore promised a little more obvious. Still, although Stan does pay particular attention to industry reading and study, he does discuss the merits of reading generally, and the value of this book (if not the romanticism) does not suffer too much – its immense quality remains intact.
Reading more like a textbook, or perhaps Stan’s dissertation, and loaded with references and bibliography, “Read to Succeed” is reference literature of the very highest quality – it is extremely well-written, packaged and polished. Stan has worked very, very hard proposing his thesis then providing piles of empirical evidence and accounts of famous and notable figures to support it. There are, of course, references to the benefits of reading fiction, thankfully (President Obama believed it helped foster empathy and understanding of difference). There is also a good argument, in the case of Elon Musk, that one should read and read, without niches, because one never knows where inspiration will strike from next. The examples Stan gives make for some fascinating reading, and has done his research well. Seeing how and what historical figures read to develop political and military insight, business knowledge and philosophical enhancement is hugely inspiring, and Stan achieves this aim perfectly.
Following this, the book then goes on to discuss how reading generally enhances one’s personal development, intelligence and social interaction, and here it becomes very encouraging, although from here on, Stan seems devoid of evidence per se, and seems to be simply sharing his love of books with us. That said, I read a huge amount of variety – fiction and non-fiction – often not knowing what will be next, and I can certainly vouch for Stan’s belief that it has enriched my life in many ways, including those I would never have anticipated, so the direction he chooses to take this book in is fine with me. Stan is clearly an incredibly passionate reader and he should be very proud of his message and the huge amount of work he has put into delivering it. He is also an author of the highest quality and I am delighted that he was the one to write this book – it is such an important one (particularly in these digital media days) and I don’t believe anyone could have done so better. But it isn’t all literature – Stan knows his new media well and enthusiastically celebrates the most up-to date applications and software as tools to optimize his passion for reading.
Holistically leaving no stone unturned in promoting every aspect of reading, “Read to Succeed” not only iterates the benefits of putting aside time to read, but presses the importance of doing so, and even delves into speed reading. He is obviously not the same as many, not only for his obsession for books, but in that he organizes his reading with the approach of a lecturer, with a voracious appetite for learning; if books are food for the soul, then Stan’s book is the menu. Most people will probably not want to break their reading down into denominators and procedures, the way that Stan does here, and may subscribe to the idea that treating reading as a skill, and breaking it down into the taking of notes for future personal gain, will take away much of its pleasure (even though this book does present well the positives for doing so). In this respect, I think most people will only glean bits of his advice, and a very small niche may choose to follow it all.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: stan-skrabut reading reference books non-fiction educational self-help