I am often asked about what I am reading and my general reading habits, so I thought I might post a short reply on a subject I feel very strongly about.
In order for the Civilian Operator to continuously “sharpen” his edge, he not only needs to train regularly, but also read regularly. The best way to do this is to divide your time between Professional and Leisurely Reading.
Now I started a habit while in the Military, which I still use today: I always read 2 books at a time; typically a Non-Fiction and a Fiction. This way I am learning about something (Professional reading) and at the same time Reading something entertaining (Leisurely reading).
Reading to entertain and not just to study is one of the primary reasons most of us started reading in the first place when we were younger, so going back to this method gives your brain time to unwind and allows you to “decompress” your thinking and possibly ignite the creativity side of your brain. After all didn’t Einstein say that “Creativity is more important than Knowledge?” I always thought of this method just another example of the “work/reward” way of looking at life. In other words, you worked for a period of time and then after that you got to relax and play some, just like in most of our daily lives.
For Professional Reading, It is important for the CO to identify the subjects he wants to study before hand and make sort of a “Reading Calendar”, that way he is organized and focused. For example, one month you might want to study about Israeli Military History. Make it a point for that month, to learn all you can, not just with the book you are currently reading, but also internet news magazines and print magazine articles. Plus don’t forget Documentaries and Movies on Netflix or YouTube. I can’t tell you how much good information I have found with those alone.
It also pays to try and angle your Leisurely reading (Fiction) to compliment your Professional reading and study. Not that your leisure reading should be work, no, that would be counter-productive, but for example, if you were studying Intelligence Gathering for example, why not read a good spy novel? Or, If you were learning about Ancient Greek Warfare, why not read one of Steven Pressfields Greek sagas? Historical Fiction I have found is one of the BEST ways to simultaneously LEARN about History and at the same time be entertained by a good yarn. Bernard Cornwell is a great example of this.
So the next time you decide to pick up a book, have a plan, and pick up two! Your brain will thank you later.
Stay Alert, Stay Armed, Keep Reading and Stay Dangerous!