Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 2, Issue 34;   August 21, 2002: Smart Bookshelves

Smart Bookshelves

by

If you like to browse in bookstores, you probably know the thrill of new ideas and new perspectives. When I find a book worth reading, I want to own it, and that's how it gets to my shelf. Here are some tips to help you read more of what you really want to read.

If I could remember even a tenth of what I've read in the books I own, I'd be a lot better off. But that's only a part of the problem — I own books I've never even read. I bought them with good intentions, but somehow I never got around to reading them. You probably have some too — our bookshelves are smarter than we are.

A bookshelf

A library's bookshelf. Photo courtesy U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons.

If you like to browse bookstores, you probably know the thrill of new ideas, new perspectives, and clear thinking that only a book well savored can provide. When I find a book worth reading, I want to own it, and that's how it gets to my shelf.

This phenomenon is so widespread that in the book business, the "self-help" category is sometimes known as "shelf-help."

We probably would sit down to read if we had more time, but we're so busy that only the essential or fascinating reading actually happens. Since we do read if we have time and motivation, here are some tips to help you read more of what you really want to read.

Many of us are
so busy that we
don't even read
the directions on
our prescriptions
Avoid reading what you don't want to read
Electronic mail can really waste time. Report all spam to your postmaster, and make sure that your private and company spam filters are up to date. If you have an assistant, ask him or her not only to screen out unwanted mail, but also to make batches of related nonurgent messages.
Return unused books to the company library
Return to the company library any library books you rarely use. Another library user might make better use of them, and if many people do this, you might find something better in the library.
Listen to books on tape
Some books are best "read" on tape during your commute, especially those you read for entertainment. You'll get through a book, and you'll be less bothered about your commute.
Organize a book swap
Nearly everyone you work with has unread books, and some of those books are so interesting that you actually would read them if you owned them. Organize a book swap with the people you work with. On the designated day, all of you bring books to swap, and you're sure to find something even more fascinating than the books you now have.
Organize a lunchtime book club
Book clubs help keep you honest. Once you promise others that you'll read a book, you're more likely to actually do it. And you get more out of it when you discuss the book with others who've just read it, or who are reading it along with you.

Remember that you can always stop reading a book if you don't like it. Amazingly, nothing bad will happen to you. Go to top Top  Next issue: Down So Low the Only Place to Go Is Up  Next Issue

Rick BrennerThe article you've been reading is an archived issue of Point Lookout, my weekly newsletter. I've been publishing it since January, 2001, free to all subscribers, over the Web, and via RSS. You can help keep it free by donating either as an individual or as an organization. You'll receive in return my sincere thanks — and the comfort of knowing that you've helped to propagate insights and perspectives that can help make our workplaces a little more human-friendly. More

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See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Two bull elk sparring in Grand Teton National Park, WyomingComing February 8: Kerfuffles That Seem Like Something More
Much of what we regard as political conflict is a series of squabbles commonly called kerfuffles. They captivate us while they're underway, but after a month or two they're forgotten. Why do they happen? Why do they persist? Available here and by RSS on February 8.
Stained Glass of William of Ockham in a church in Surrey, England, United KingdomAnd on February 15: Four Razors for Organizational Behavior
Deviant organizational behavior can harm the people and the organization. In choosing responses, we consider what drives the perpetrators. Considering Malice, Incompetence, Ignorance, and Greed, we can devise four guidelines for making these choices. Available here and by RSS on February 15.

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