What Should I Read for Business or Pleasure? The 4 quadrants to Choose Your Next Great Book.

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Two weeks ago we talked about the 5 Minute Challenge to start reading. As you know, the habit of reading is one of the definitive habits of successful people. Just as we correctly insist on the need to take care of our body with exercise and a balanced diet, it is essential for the growth of any entrepreneur to take advantage of the power of reading to:

  • Increase your critical and thinking capacity.
  • Activate the brain.
  • Search for new solutions.
  • Arouse permanent curiosity.
  • Stimulate creativity.
  • Take advantage of the time.
  • Raise your coefficient of influence.
  • Keep up to date.

Millions of people around the world have set themselves the challenge of getting into the habit of reading with spectacular results. If you haven’t started, start today.

If you have already started and little by little you are discovering the power of the habit of reading, very soon you will find yourself with an important question: What do I read?

Each person has their own reading itinerary; because each person is unique. Your tastes, your businesses, your interests, your hobbies, are only yours. Although it is always good to ask for the recommendation and advice of someone you trust or admire , it is also true that only you can decide what to read throughout your life.

The habit of reading is not formed with a list of “must-read books” or forced readings that you have to read for no reason. While there are books that I think everyone would benefit from reading, I will not be the one to dictate the titles. I believe that the habit must have two characteristics: first, that it always keeps your spirit of curiosity burning; and second, that it helps you grow as a person, both spiritually and professionally.

As Dr. Isolino Doval stated, reading a lot does not necessarily make you a better person. There are people who read a lot and are unhappy, or bad. Wow: Hitler was a great reader. The habit of reading, to put it in some way, is a muscle that you can exercise, and that can give you a lot of strength. How you exercise that muscle and what you do with it will be entirely up to you. Don’t waste time reading junk. My recommendation: read good, original, creative and constructive things that help you grow, and then give you strength to push your business and improve the lives of those around you.

Okay, but what do I read?

I have come across many people with this same concern. What do I read? and the answer is always the same: it depends.

It depends on who you are; what do you like; what are your talents, your interests, your hobbies, your heroes; what is your business and what books have you read before. We are all in a different place. If you’ve never read anything, you may want to start with a classic light novel, like The Little Prince or Momo. Or for an anthology of Arreola short stories or a finance classic like the Richest Man in Babylon. There are thousands of options, but really, really, it depends on what you want and where you want to walk.

To make things easier for me, I designed a quadrant system that allows me, at the same time, to delve into the topics that I am passionate about, stay entertained and discover new things. This reading matrix What do I read? It is reflected in the following graph:

The graph is made up of the quadrants that occupy the spaces between two axes : the growth-pleasure axis and the fiction-non-fiction axis.

Then assign a week of the month to each quadrant and voila. It allows us to choose new books and readings that meet our personal and business needs.

It doesn’t matter, for now, if you read one book a week or one a month. The concept remains the same, and follow the quadrants in this order:

First week: fiction + grow

To get the month off to a good start, look for a fiction book – that is, short stories, novels, etc. – that is both exciting and useful. Among these we can find historical novels, fictionalized biographies and essential classics.

Maybe you have a problem with the word “classics” because some teacher in high school forced you to read Homer’s Iliad and do an exhaustive analysis that put your eyes out of your ears, but I hope you soon lose your fear. The truth is that most of the classics are for a reason and many were the bestsellers of their own time. Dickens, Twain, Chesterton, Hemingway, Cervantes, and thousands of classic novels are a good place to start because they are often easy to find, inexpensive and mostly brilliant editions.

Second week: non-fiction + growing up

With the engines running, this week look for a book that will help you grow personally or professionally. Personally, autobiographies are among my favorites; but you will also find great biographies of outstanding men and women; personal growth books to form habits of all kinds: financial, business, health or interpersonal relationships. Little by little you will realize that everything is connected.

Also look for books that help you improve your business skills: communication, sales, programming, accounting or big data. It all depends on what your profession and your business are. School ends when it ends, but education never ends. Advance in your career and grow your business!

Don’t think that this means they have to be boring. If you’re in the right business for you, these books will be interesting, exciting, and engaging.

Third week: fiction + pleasure

This is the “free” week, where you can read absolutely whatever you want; it does not matter if it is a deep or simple novel, or if it is the most cultured classic in the universe. This week it is: read to be happy.

Are vampires in love your thing? The wizards who live in a castle? The London detectives? The ghosts? The love? Ahead! Read what you really enjoy and don’t worry about the rest.

This week is, perhaps, the most important in terms of getting into the habit, because it allows you to have fun, relax, and discover the authors that will become your favorites. Not everything is study and exercise!

Fourth week: non-fiction + pleasure

Personally, my favorite week, where we can learn new things, discover new topics and connect previous knowledge applicable in new areas of knowledge.

The idea here is to explore topics that are not your core business but that connect on some level with your passions, your tastes, your talents or your dreams. It’s a brilliant way to open your eyes to new things, boost creativity, and think outside the box!

If you are, for example, an engineer, this week “engineers” books are prohibited. The same for any profession. This week read about opera, philosophy, dinosaurs, cupcakes, Amazon beetles, or the history of an unknown country. Get out of your usual zone and go on an adventure trip that will fill you with energy and new ideas.

And then … start over:

5 questions and answers: rules for reading

There are some questions that I constantly hear. Maybe they give you an idea!

  1. Can I read what I want? – Yes, but you can also read really cool stuff. Nobody forbids you to play in the garbage can if that is what you want, but you may be interested in visiting the beach or traveling the world. It is not about prohibiting, but about taking advantage.
  2. Do I have to finish every book I start? – No. My personal rule is fifty pages. If the book hasn’t caught up with me then I move on to the next one on the list. There are books that I have left at three pages! You are completely free.
  3. Is there a mandatory book? Nothing is mandatory, but I think there are highly recommended books for each person, depending on their situation. A friend who knows you and likes to read can recommend some classics in your area. Look for ideas at goodreads.com
  4. Paper, digital or audiobook? Many people fight over this, but it is an unnecessary discussion. I prefer paper, but I read a lot on digital and listen to audiobooks in the car. I also prefer live theater, but that doesn’t mean I don’t go to the movies or watch Netflix. They are different experiences for different times: they are all great and are the best gift on almost any occasion.
  5. Are the books underlined? Another capital discussion. It depends on each one. I light up my books, make notes and arrows; but I don’t fold the sheets. Long live freedom. Of course … if they lend you a book, don’t scratch it! And please … give it back!
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