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How to Find the Book that You Most Need to Read

Open a book, any book. To a random page, any page. Read a sentence, any sentence.


Winston Churchill was a voracious reader and a prolific writer. He once said everyone should have a book collection, and that if you didn’t have time to read your books you should at least walk past the bookshelf and caress them. You might pick something up by osmosis.

I take that one step farther. When I walk past my bookshelf, or past the shelves in a bookstore, I’ll randomly pull out a book. I’ll open it to a random page and read the first sentence that my eyes land upon. I’m astonished by how often that sentence is exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.

True story: Last week I was obsessing over a proposal we’d sent for a project I really want to do. We’d submitted the proposal some time ago and hadn’t heard a peep in response. I was beginning to assume it wouldn’t happen.

Walking past my bookshelf, I pulled out a beat-up old paperback and opened it to a random page. The first sentence I read was: “If you are thinking thoughts of defeat, I urge you to rid yourself of such thoughts, for as you think defeat you tend to get it. Adopt the ‘I don’t believe in defeat’ attitude.”

The book was The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. And that sentence was the exact message I needed to hear at that moment.

The following day we got good news on the proposal.

No, I don’t really believe that a little Book Fairy resides inside my bookshelf and guides me to just the right book at just the right time, much less that my reading a random sentence has caused any material impact on the world outside. But I do believe that my thoughts help to shape my reality, and that what I read helps to shape my thoughts.

Give it a try. Even if the sentence you happen to read on a given day isn’t exactly what you needed to read that day, it might be enough to inspire you to read (or reread) the rest of book. Which might end up being what you needed after all.

At Values Coach our purpose is transforming people through the power of values and transforming organizations through the power of people. We do that by helping leaders build a stronger Culture of Ownership on a Foundation of Values.

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