The Joy of Reading

In a recent post, Rick Cockrum asked the question, Can You Spell Bibliophile? Rick, thanks for the question. 

My love affair with books goes back to my earliest memories. I can’t imagine a world without real tangible books you can hold in your hands.

Books are my DOC (Drug of Choice)

I cherish my memories of…

Sitting next to my mother, wafts of coffee and chocolate drifting through the air, while she read The Hiding Place aloud.

Long subarctic North Dakota nights, howling winds, swirling snow crystals sliding across the windows, and my mother’s voice reading me The Emancipation of Robert Sadler.

The Fargo Public Library where I sat alone on the floor with a pile of books for hours, lost in other worlds.

As a schoolboy, being left alone for entire afternoons at B. Dalton Booksellers in West Acres Mall. I could have gone to the arcade or the toy store but I didn’t. Instead I read.

Skipping school and spending the day alone reading at the public library.

Today, I’d say we have between 5,000 and 10,000 books in our house, most of which are for sale. I live in a book store and it is a dream come true.


I’m going to take this meme in a different direction and just tell you what I have been reading over the last month or so and then list some of my all time favorite authors.

Essays and Poems by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
I keep a copy of this book on my night stand and I read passages nightly.

The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy
This explores why people buy and how to sell to them. Brian says that all buying is emotional and every good salesman knows it. I concur. He also states that you never lose a deal on price. I disagree. I just watched a large deal come down to price. The salesman from the ‘expensive’ company performed as Brian Tracy coaches and he lost the deal on price. This book is worth the read because there is a lot to learn from it, but Tracy is dead wrong on price because price is the most emotional issue surrounding a purchasing decision. People think price is a simple unemotional math calculation, but it isn’t. If it was, all salaries in a corporation would be published on the corporate intranet, because after all, they are just numbers, right? But they aren’t published because people get emotional about the price they are getting paid for their labor. It is the same with all transactions. Most people use money to value themselves and others. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t care how much money they made relative to others. Differences over money results in more divorces than any other conflict, which should tell you something about our relationship with money. Our relationship with money is very similar to our relationship to sex. The wrong price can make people feel angry, hurt, insulted, afraid, or foolish. The right price can make people feel smart, happy, courageous, or wealthy. Have you ever been happy with a product until you found out someone else got a lower price? Then how did you feel?

Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble
This is the Bible on corporate business blogging by the best in the business. This book gives us a look inside the borg and how blogging helped Microsoft turn its image around. Robert Scoble is an inspiration. He beat the odds and won with integrity, innovation, and courage.

I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey into the Mind of Philip K. Dick by Emmanuel Carrerre
Philip Dick had an amazing mind; the kind that fascinates me. A mind that breaks the patterns of our mass media, government educated consciousness. I expected a fair impartial account of Philip Dick’s life, but some of Carrerre’s prose reads more like fiction than biography. He tells some accounts as though he witnessed them as an omnipresent consciousness, using details he couldn’t have known, like Philip Dick’s thoughts, which makes me suspect of Carrerre’s objectivity. The real “Dickheads” don’t like this book. I’m not a “Dickhead” but I am still suspect of Carrerre’s account. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the work and Emmanuel’s prose is among the best in the business.

Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff
The best three paragraphs I’ve read this year are from this book:

This purpose entails three and only three governmental functions. In Ayn Rand’s statement, these are: the police to protect men from criminals – the armed services to protect men from foreign invaders – the law courts to settle disputes among men according to objective laws. Any additional function would have to involve the government initiating force against innocent citizens. Such a government acts not as man’s protector, but as a criminal.

Government is inherently negative. The power of force is the power of destruction, not of creation, and it must be used accordingly, i.e. , only to destroy destruction. For a society to inject this power into any creative realm, spiritual or material, is a lethal contradiction: it is the attempt to use death as a means of sustaining life.

The above means, first of all, that the state must not intervene in the intellectual and moral life of its citizens. It has not standards to uphold and no benefits to confer in regard to education, literature, art, science, sex (if adult and voluntary), or philosophy. Its function is to protect freedom not truth or virtue.

Leonard translates Ayn’s philosophy into layman’s terms. I like how he brings much of her philosophy into the post Soviet world and uses the demise of international socialism/communism as an example of Ayn’s philosophy. At the root, our economic and social problems come from too much central management, not too little. Many people see a social or economic problem and think the government should solve it. This book illustrates the folly of this thinking. The forced government s
olution will
either make the problem worse or create a larger “blowback” from somewhere else.


A few of my favorite authors: Thoreau, Emerson, Twain, Orwell, Huxley, Rand, and Hill.

7 thoughts on “The Joy of Reading”

  1. Living in a bookstore is definitely a dream come true. We would have a tough time doing that here. Neither my wife nor I want to let go of a book once we have it. Definitely the drug of choice for both of us.

    Many of the memories of my childhood revolve around reading, too, both good and bad. I spent hours reading. On the other hand, when I was 7 or 8 I got extremely upset with my mother when she wouldn’t replace a book I loved that my baby sister had colored in and ripped pages out of. One of the best things about starting school was the chance to use its library.

    I can see how we have a common base to talk. Many of your favorite authors are mine, too.

    Thank you for joining in.

  2. btw, the Scoble book is okay, but if you want something a lot more useful, check out “Made to Stick” by the Heath brothers and “Founders at Work” by Jessica Livingston (interviews with startup founders). Good stuff in that genre.

  3. Good Morning Steve! I came across your blog by chance, and found myself making notes based on your current (and past) reading selections, thanks! And, I’m with you, nothing beats holding a book!

  4. Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” altered my view of the world around me. Even now I’m awared of how closely our nation resembles the last half of the book. By design perhaps? Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance” caused me to reflect on my own desire to touch true “quality..excellence”. I’ve had moments in music with others that touched ever so briefly on perfection…when the sum of the parts was oh so much closer to perfect than was expected. Magical, elusive, and truly satisfying leaving me aching to return to it.
    Good post. Thanks.

  5. Thanks for the book notes.

    > [Tracy] He also states that you never lose a deal on price. I disagree.

    I’m firmly in the Alan Weiss/Value-based fees camp on this one. Weiss claims resistance to your proposal comes down to four things:

    1 They don’t trust you
    2 They don’t need you
    3 They don’t feel any urgency
    4 They don’t have the money to pay you

    His point: Money can always be found. I agree – people will find the money if they want something badly enough. Look at all the new cars being bought by people with credit card debt. Makes sense? No. So why do they do it? >> Because they want it.< [Rand’s point] the state must not intervene in the intellectual and moral life of its citizens

    I think I agree, but not if it means slashing public schools, which some argue is a Bush priority. I think governments *should* do certain things that individuals can’t on their own. Health insurance. Defense. Education.

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