People often wonder where I find the time to read books. I wonder if I'll ever have enough time _not_ to read books. I get so much out of them, including incredibly rich conversations with new friends. Here are two examples from just last week.
I met Driss Benzakour for coffee at Farcoast last Wednesday. I had first met him at the Third Tuesday event in February that featured Wikinomics co-author Anthony Williams, but hadn't heard from him since then. He got in touch with me because he was looking for a job, came across my contact information in his notebook, learned I was joining IBM, and thought I might have some tips to share.
When I learned that he was interested in consulting, I mentioned a great book I'd read recently: Flawless Consulting. "By Peter Block," Driss said, nodding. Having thus performed the secret handshake of booklovers, we proceeded to talk about a great number of books. I'd mention one of my favorite books, and he'd show the audiobook he'd downloaded from Audible.com. I scrolled through the list of books he'd listened to, and suggested a couple more. Knowing common books allowed us to take shortcuts in our conversations. We could refer to concepts without explaining them all over again, and we could talk about combinations of book ideas. It was a fun and energizing chat, and we talked about far more than we could've if we didn't have common books.
A similar thing happened when I met Michael Nielsen of the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo. Michael showed me a website full of awesome book reviews by one guy with very diverse reading tastes. I said, "He's building a syntopicon!" Michael guessed that I'd read the classic How to Read a Book. Secret handshake!
Books are terrific. They offer some of the best excuses to connect and keep in touch with people. If I didn't read extensively, I'd have to work much harder at finding common ground and following up with interesting thoughts! <laugh>
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