Books and Broken Glasses

  • Jeff Gibbard
  • 7 min read

Perhaps the most famous episode in the entire run of the original Twilight Zone, is the episode Time Enough At Last.

Henry Bemis, played by Burgess Meredith, is an avid reader. He loves to read. It is all he’s ever wanted to have time for: to read books. People get in the way, responsibilities get in the way, his wife scolds him for it, but he just wants to read.

And “lucky for him,” after a nuclear blast hits his town, he is the only person to survive. With everyone gone, he stumbles upon the library, still full of books. He has time enough at last, to read. What happens next, happens in an instant.

As he realizes his good fortune, he leans over and his glasses fall off his face, crash to the ground, and the lenses of his glasses shatter. The episode concludes with this man left in the ironic position of having “Time Enough At Last” to read…but unable to read.

As time goes on in my life, this episode becomes more relatable and meaningful for me.

I only started reading seriously in my early 30’s. Starting that late is one of my greatest regrets in life. Much like Time Enough At Last, I feel as though when I look at my life in reverse, the beginning of my life is the time I’ll never get back to read all that I could’ve.

Velocity Time Dilation

Special relativity indicates that, for an observer in an inertial frame of reference, a clock that is moving relative to them will be measured to tick slower than a clock that is at rest in their frame of reference. This case is sometimes called special relativistic time dilation. The faster the relative velocity, the greater the time dilation between one another, with the rate of time reaching zero as one approaches the speed of light (299,792,458 m/s). (Wikipedia)

On the advice of my business coach, I took a speed reading course in 2017…that changed everything. Anyone that knows me has heard me talk at length about how important I believe it is to take a speed reading course as early in your life as you can. I strongly recommend that in-person course (ya know, once the pandemic is over).

I’ve been tracking my reading since 2014 and you can see the drastic increase in 2017. In late 2018, I added Audiobooks (via Audible) to my reading habits. This allowed me to “read” while driving or walking. I now get in 20-30 minutes per day on Audible while walking my dog. When playing books at 2x – 3x speed, I can cover a lot of ground during that time.

The faster I can read and consume, the more I’m able to manipulate the time in my life in service of growth.

Missed Opportunity

I recently spoke with some people during a small gathering–with safe social distancing. We talked about television, sports, and gaming. I asked whether anyone had a good book recommendation and I heard something familiar:

“Ya know, I’d like to read more but I get one paragraph into a book and I want to fall asleep.”

I used to be the same way. I wonder…what changed? Here’s the answer.

Throughout school, I saw reading as an obligation rather than as an opportunity. Once I started reading books and noticing how profoundly it shifted my worldview and allowed me to learn useful skills, everything changed and I got over the hump of feeling sleepy.

The speed reading course helped tremendously too. Once your speed and comprehension increase, reading ceases to feel like an arduous task.

Read to expand your inner and outer world

I know that to a certain extent, I’m preaching to the choir here. If you didn’t like to read at all, you wouldn’t have made it this far. But, maybe you’ve fallen out of the practice of a regular reading habit. Today is the day that I encourage you to pick it back up.

  1. I think it’ll make your life a better and more enriching experience
  2. I need you to be in the practice when my book, The Lovable Leader, comes out next year 😉

I’ve read a unique selection of books over the last two years.

I’ve started to learn more about race, racism, and the experiences of people who don’t look like me. I started with White Fragility and So You Want to Talk about Race, last year, and then added How to be an Anti-Racist, Me and White Supremacy, Minor Feelings, and Stamped From The Beginning, this year. This continues to be useful in my work, my relationships, and as a tool in living my values.

I’ve improved my memory considerably using the tactics from Unlimited Memory, deepened my understanding of how to learn from Ultralearning, and improved my focus and discipline with Deep Work, Essentialism, Digital Minimalism, and Atomic Habits.

I’ve learned superpowers of storytelling from Building a Storybrand, further improved my ability to pitch from Flip The Script, and revisited the ethics and purpose in my work from Ruined by Design and Forging an Ironclad Brand.

I’ve improved my ability to lead and train others in the art of leadership from Leaders Eat Last, Extreme Ownership, Leadershift, and The Laws of Human Nature.

These are all just examples from the last two years. I’ve been able to expand my understanding of various topics that help me be a better business person, and more importantly a better human being.

If you’re interested…

I’ve put together a reading list for you to follow. It is designed to be read in order and it will soon be replacing the reading list on the Superhero Institute utility belt.

Don’t be like me and wait too long to fall in love with reading.

THE SUPERHERO READING LIST

Prequel: Prerequisites

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  2. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
  3. Ruined By Design by Mike Monteiro
  4. Forging an Iron Clad Brand by Lindsay Pedersen
  5. Linchpin by Seth Godin

Phase I: Learning & Habits

  1. Atomic Habits by James Clear
  2. Ultra-Learning by Scott H. Young
  3. Unlimited Memory by Kevin Horsley
  4. Deep Work by Cal Newport
  5. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

Extra Credit: Indistractable by Nir Eyal


Phase II: People & Influence

  1. Code of Trust by Robin Dreeke and Cameron Stauth
  2. Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff
  3. Influence by Robert Cialdini
  4. The Go-Giver by Bob Burg
  5. Pre-suasion by Robert Cialdini
  6. Flip the Script by Oren Klaff

Extra Credit: The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene


Phase III: Race & Society

  1. Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
  2. Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings That Formed the Movement
  3. White Fragility Robin DiAngelo
  4. So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Olou
  5. Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi
  6. How to Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X Kendi

Extra Credit: Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong

Extra Credit: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Extra Credit: The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Du Bois


Phase IV: Leadership

  1. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
  2. Leadershift by John C. Maxwell
  3. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
  4. Start With Why by Simon Sinek
  5. Dare To Lead by Brene Brown

Extra Credit: Get Together by Bailey Richardson and Kevin Huynh


Phase V: Business, Marketing, and Sales

  1. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
  2. The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz
  3. Building A Storybrand by Donald Miller
  4. This is Marketing by Seth Godin
  5. Youtility by Jay Baer
  6. Never Lose A Customer Again by Joey Coleman

Phase VI: Business, Marketing, and Sales (The Sequel)

  1. ReWork by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
  2. Lingo by Jeffrey Shaw
  3. Purple Cow by Seth Godin
  4. Branding is Sex by Deb Gabor
  5. Known by Mark Schaefer
  6. Exactly What To Say by Phil M. Jones

Phase VII: Communication

  1. Think. Do. Say. by Ron Tite
  2. Exactly How To Sell by Phil M. Jones
  3. Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss
  4. Writing That Works by Kenneth Roman
  5. Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
  6. The Charisma Rules by Gary Marshall

Phase VIII: Productivity & Motivation

  1. The 5-Second Rule by Mel Robbins
  2. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  3. Unf*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop

Phase VIIII: Entrepreneurship

  1. Unscripted by MJ DeMarco
  2. Profit First by Mike Michalowicz
  3. Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters
  4. The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
  5. Grit by Angela Duckworth
  6. The Self Reliant Entrepreneur by John Jantsch

This list will change over time. To see the most up to date list, head over to the Superhero Institute > Utility Belt > Book List

Got a book to recommend? Post it in the comments.

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