How to Improve Your Mind, Life, and Career

As Groucho Marx said, “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” It would appear that more Americans than ever agree with Marx, according to The New York Times, which recently revealed the results of a report from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The report, titled “Reading on the Rise: A New Chapter in American Literacy,” bases its “good news” on the fact that, for the first time since 1982, there’s been an increase in the number of adults claiming to have read at least one novel, play, or poem over the past 12 months.

“At least one” novel, play, or poem? That’s all it takes?

Listen – if someone is only reading one of anything in a year, she’s in trouble. And so is her future.

Reading is one of the best – and least expensive – ways to “live rich.” It can also make you smarter… help you improve your life… make you a more interesting conversationalist… help get you a better job… keep you in tune with your industry… or help you begin a new career.

Reading ETR each morning is a good start. We strive each day to give you at least one useful piece of advice that you can apply to your life.

But don’t stop there.

  • If you’re an Internet marketer, read books on Internet marketing. Read Gladwell and Godin and Masterson and Tribby.
  • Sign up for e-newsletters by the best in your field. (For example, John Forde, Clayton Makepeace, Alex Mandossian, Yanik Silver, Rich Schefren, and Bob Bly all have e-newsletters or blogs that can help you get ahead.)
  • Read The New York Times. Read The Wall Street Journal. Read Scientific American. You don’t even have to buy them. Go to the library or read them online.

Read what interests you, and read what’s popular. Fiction and non-fiction. Poetry and plays. Blogs and e-newsletters. Magazines and newspapers.

But whatever you do, read something.

[Ed. Note: Let us know – right here – the top 2 books you think EVERYONE should read. One must be fiction, the other must be non-fiction.]

Comment on this article

  • Greg Lauer

    I think one fiction book everyone should read at least once in their lifetime is “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. I think one non-fiction book everyone should read at least once in their lifetime is “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.

  • Suzanne Richardson

    Here are my own highly recommended books:

    * Non fiction: “Ogilvy on Advertising” by David Ogilvy. Useful for anyone involved in business, whether you’re the CEO, a marketer, or a junior employee.

    Same goes for “Changing the Channel” by MaryEllen Tribby and Michael Masterson – it’s packed with marketing advice that any level employee can use to get ahead at work. The secrets they reveal can even help you get a job – by marketing yourself using their recommendations, or just by showing a potential employer that you know how to increase his sales.

    * Fiction: “Everything Is Illuminated” by Jonathan Safran Foer. I wrote about this book before ( but I just can’t speak highly enough of it.

  • Only two books?

    Non-Fiction – Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition
    by Jay Abraham

    Fiction – Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein

    Note: I was tempted to list books ETR staff members have written… but decided to share books from authors outside the ETR sphere of influence. – gfb3

  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand for fiction (although it teaches like NON-fiction)
    Looking Out for #1 by Robert J. Ringer (for Non-fiction)

    I truly feel sorry for anyone who has not read both of these books. They can change your life.