There is nothing like curling up with a good book. But why is reading books of all types so important?

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Emma: Hi, Brittany.

Brittany: Hi, Emma.

Emma: We’ve talked a lot about books on this podcast, whether they’re breakdowns of famous books or recommendations that we have, or even talking about certain ideas raised in popular books. We also recently did an episode about our New Year’s resolutions where we both talked about reading more as something that we want to do in 2022. So I thought maybe we could do a whole episode about why reading is so awesome and so important. So to kind of start off, I loved reading as a kid and I would read pretty much anything that I could get my hands on, even if I didn’t understand it or if it was a boring topic. Like my parents would always laugh because we would be, you know, laying down newspaper to do a project and I would be reading these old newspapers from like, years ago, just cuz I was like, I wonder what’s in here. And I think maybe part of that was because my parents were not super big on us watching a lot of TV or like playing video games or anything like that. Not to be like, oh, back in my day we definitely enjoyed our shows and stuff, but we weren’t allowed to do too much of that. So for me, reading was kind of a way to learn about the outside world, you know, learn about different topics. And I would get lost in books for days to the point where I would actually be sad when I finished them cuz I felt like I was saying goodbye to my friends or something. But books have always been really magical to me. But as I got older and as school became more rigorous with tougher reading assignments and you know, they would throw us these huge dense books that didn’t have a lot of interesting information, at least to me at the time, and it kind of took the fun out of it for me and it made it something that I didn’t wanna do on my own. I would do it cuz I had to do it. And this is something that I’ve actually had to overcome as an adult because that sort of, that attitude sort of got stuck in my mind. And it’s hard to go through school without reading a lot, otherwise, you’d probably get pretty bad grades. But as an adult you realize that that responsibility to learn and to continually expand your horizons and learn about new things falls on you. And you have to motivate yourself to, to learn these new things and understand new topics and all of that through reading. And even just, you know, even if you’re reading fiction, it doesn’t have to be something super, super dense or informative. I love reading a good fiction book every now and then, cuz it actually helps my attention span. Sometimes I have a hard time focusing and I find that when I read a little bit every day, it almost exercises that part of my brain where I’m plugging in, I’m focusing on a certain thing and really getting into it. So all of that to say, I thought maybe Brittany and I could share some of the great things about reading that we wish we’d heard at a younger age. And then maybe talk about some of our favorite. So Brittany, do you have, like what’s your story with reading? Have you always been a big reader? I know you do a ton of reading throughout the week.

Brittany: Yeah, no, that is a great question and I wanna, so how do we begin? I’m gonna brief off something you said and then I’ll go back. The high school and college thing was really hard for me because every time I loved reading, I’ve always loved reading. The first books I remember really getting into were like, Bernstein bearers are my favorite. When I was really little. Oh yes. And then box card children were like, so.

Emma: So good.

Brittany: So good. And I was incentivized cuz my mom would say, all right, every time you read one, we’ll go to this, this is before the internet. I was gonna say Amazon, but no, it was before the Internet. So every time I finished a book, we’d get to go, there was a place called Belmont Shore in California that was like 20 minutes from my house. And it had a lot of cute shops and like independent toy stores. Like, not like toys or us, but little ones. And every time I finished a box car children’s book, I got to go back to this fun little bookstore and get a new one. So it was this fun little tradition fun. And then as I got a little older babysitters club, and I’ve talked about this in the show a lot. Oh yes. And that’s really what built my foundation of entrepreneurship was reading that. And the sad thing is then you get to high school and college and you stop loving to read because they’re like, Hey, read this book in a week. And for me, I’ve never been somebody who tries to speed read. I am somebody who like, I wanna take in every morsel of the book. that means sometimes I blow through them in a couple of days. There was one book called Five People You Meet in Heaven. I read in a day. I just like blew through that one. sometimes it takes me a while, you know because I don’t wanna, I don’t want reading to become a chore. And I feel like high school and college made reading a chore for me instead of something I enjoy. But I did get books like Joy Luck Club was one I had to read in high school that I loved. Great Gatsby is one I loved. , a book called May Antonio. So there were some books that I liked, but there were books that I’m like, why did I like, this is terrible. I hate everything. but so I wanted, you said, you know, what are some positives? So I’ve talked about this a lot. My entire career has been based around storytelling and I’m obsessed with storytelling in a way that like, I can dissect, there’s a lot of people who’ve written movies and they dissect like what makes a good story, what makes a good character. And as I’ve talked about a ton on this, this show, everything in Life is a hero’s journey. And we learn that way. We learn through storytelling. So fiction is great because you learn life lessons. It’s not just like, oh, you’re reading something. Absolutely. It’s fantasy, right? You’re learning, you’re watching somebody’s hero’s journey, you’re watching them overcome obstacles, and then you take that in your life and you can say, oh my goodness, I can do what they did. That’s why people love the Bible. You know, it’s a religious book, but it’s also a story of heroes, you know, facing what’s bad about them and then, and then achieving, you know, like overcoming obstacles. So yeah, I am a big fan of reading. It’s when I first got into economics and politics, I stopped reading fiction and I got really annoying. I was like, I don’t read fiction, like fiction beneath me. I’m only gonna read economic text, you know, textbooks. Yeah. And as I’ve gotten older, I realized how important fiction was for the story storytelling angle. And even when I write about economics, it’s good to have like everything I write, even if it’s about politics, there’s always a main character and there’s always a hero, right? Yeah. So, that’s gonna take place in everything. So yeah, I think fiction is really important. I love wizards and Magic. So, I like to read a lot of those books. But, yeah, so I am a big reader. I try to be reading books and listening to audiobooks. It’s one of my favorite parts before I go to bed is just sitting down with a good book.

Emma: Oh, same here. That’s been something, a new habit I’ve tried to make. We talked about this again in the New Year’s Resolutions episode we did, but I’ve tried to not be on my phone for at least an hour before bed. Oh, that’s good. That’s good. And a lot of times my husband and I like to watch like a TV show or something before we go to bed, but we actually started reading instead. Or we would be like, we need to read at least this much before we watch a show today. And we’ll find that once we settle in with our books, it’s like, man, this is, you don’t want so much fun.

Brittany: You don’t want to.

Emma: We don’t wanna watch anything. Like, this is awesome and I sleep better. And it’s, really become something that I have started to look forward to. And I love what you said about reading fiction. I’ve never really thought of it that way, but Jordan Peterson does talk a ton about the hero’s journey and sort of the things that we can learn through these stories. So that’s a really cool way of looking at fiction is actually, it’s like an opportunity to learn from these stories. And yeah, even the Bible, there are all of these in like crazy stories and characters and all these things you can learn. So that’s pretty neat. Do you have like a reading routine other than, you know, just reading in the evenings? I know we’ve talked about this briefly before, but I’m curious if it’s changed at all or if you’re like, what that looks like for you.

Brittany: It switches. So, I am a big podcast girl. and I just blew like, plow through podcast. But if I don’t have one to listen to, which unfortunately it hasn’t happened lately, I feel like I have so much to catch up on, then I find the new podcast. But if I don’t have a podcast, then I start my morning listening to an audiobook. Nice. So, and that one is usually a non-fiction audiobook on a topic I wanna learn more about or something, you know, something like that. So I will do a non-fiction audiobook in the morning while I’m putting my makeup on and getting ready. Then I come home and I try to do, I’m not as good as this as I used to be. I need to get better. So then I come home and I try to physically read like another non-fiction book. of something I’m interested in. It’s usually Carl Yung. I’m a big fan of Carl Yung. So I try to be reading a Carl Yung book all the time. So I’ll read like 10 pages of a Carl Yung book and then I will sometimes either read another book, like 10 pages of another book, or I will listen to a fiction on audio as I fall asleep. So I set the Audible has a great little timer, so like I’ll see It does, I love it. So, and I usually do the Harry Potter or a fantasy book cuz I know them so well. I’m not missing anything if I fall asleep cause I’ve read them all.

Emma: That’s what I was gonna ask about is what if you fall asleep and miss something in the book, but that makes sense then?

Brittany: I know. So I have read every Harry Potter book. I think we’re going on 17 or 18 times if not now. Wow. And so, wow. I know them so well. But I always find something new. That’s a fun thing though, is I always find something new, but I set the timer for about 30 minutes. Sometimes I fall asleep, sometimes I don’t. but it’s always a book. The ones I fall asleep to are always the books I already know. I’m a big fan of the book called The Alchemist. I think it’s great. Yeah. I do that one a lot too. It’s, a short good one I read once a year. And then, sorry I’m getting, I get so excited about books.

Emma: No, It’s another thing I love hearing this.

Brittany: I read the Count of Money Christo, there’s different versions cause it’s very big, but I read that once a year. So every year I haven handed reading.

Emma: It’s a good story. Oh my. It’s goodness.

Brittany: It’s so good. I have been doing this since my senior year of high school and that was a very long time ago. Yeah. 18 years ago. so I’ve only missed a couple of years here and there. I think during the pandemic, there’s a big portion where he’s stuck in prison and that was too real during the pandemic. Oh yea. Exactly. Couldn’t read it. but, so I try to read that every single year and every single year I find something new. So I think that’s fun if you can pick like one book and read it, you know, once a year.

Emma: Absolutely. And I will say one thing, this might be a little bit controversial. I would be very curious to hear if you agree with me. Brittany did you ever read those like abridged kid’s versions of the classics called, I think they’re called Great Illustrated Classics? They have like.

Brittany: I didn’t but I know what you’re talking about.

Emma: Yeah. They have like, they all look the same. They’ve got like this really specific design. But that was actually the first way I ever read the Count of Monte Christo because I was, gosh, I was pretty young. I wanna say I was like eight or nine years old. We watched the movie and I loved the movie. And im just like.

Brittany: Which one? The one with the wrong ending or the old one?

Emma: It was the old one. Yeah. Okay. And I, couldn’t even tell you who was in it, but we watched it when I was pretty young and I loved it. And I was like, I really wanna read this book. And I went to the bookstore and I was like, man, this is a really tough book. I don’t know if I’m quite gonna make my way to this.

Brittany: Oh. And the under Bridge one is like 3000 pages. So I’ve never read that one.

Emma: Yeah. So I found this awesome basically kids abridged version. And that was how I first sort of learned from that story and was able to get through it and kind of take away from it. And I’m not gonna say that the abridged versions of books are always, you know, the perfect substitute for reading the Real thing. But if you know, depending on your reading level and where you’re at, there are still ways to read these awesome fiction stories and these classic books. like they have Pride and Prejudice. They have what was the one where, gosh, the guy gets stuck on the island and what’s the name of it? Gulliver’s Travels. Is that it? I can’t remember.

Brittany: Morris Travels is the one where he like shrinks size and like goes on adventures stuck on the island.

Emma: I goodness, why can I not remember the name of it? There are all of these classic books though, like really, really amazing books. And they make these abridged versions. So if you’re on the younger side and you want to start learning from these stories, I highly recommend that you, I think they’re just called Great Illustrated Classics or something like that. They’re awesome. And you know, if you find a story that you really love and you wanna try reading the real thing, you totally can. But they’re easy to get through when you’re just getting into these sorts of things. Cause I know sometimes these books can be dense. Yes. but yeah, I, gosh, a few of my favorites when I was a kid. This is pretty nerdy, but this was just like a tradition that I had. You talked about your yearly read of Monte Christo. Count of Monte Christo. I would do once a year a Chronicles of Narnia Marathon. Those books where I would read one of them every day, and I would go through all seven in a week. It was like all I would do, I did it in the summer cuz I couldn’t do it during school. Yeah.

Brittany: Did you like to eat snacks? Like did you have like a little like ritual with it? Like.

Emma: I had like a little corner that I would sit in and read. Oh, I love that. Read these books. And I only did it for a couple of years, but I just was so obsessed with them. That was like my real, it felt like watching a movie or not even a movie cuz it would be this all-day thing.

Brittany: But did you do Dear Day in school when you were a kid?

Emma: What is that?

Brittany: So, it stands for Drop Everything and Read. But Dear Day is like once a year in school, an entire day was devoted to reading. So you could bring your speech back.

Emma: That’s Awesome.

Brittany: You could bring a pillow and then like any book you wanted and you just spent all day reading.

Emma: That’s so fun. One of my childhood classrooms, obviously childhood. I was in third grade and one of my teachers had in the back of the classroom this old clawfoot bathtub and it had like pillows and blankets in it. That is so cute. And every day one kid, it would be their turn to like do their independent reading in there and it would switch through throughout the month and I would look forward to my day like so much. It was like the best day ever.

Brittany: That’s so funny I love that.

Emma: So yeah, Chronicles of Narnia was a favorite for me. I loved The Wrinkle in Time series. I don’t know if you’ve ever read those, Brittany, those were.

Brittany: I know of them but never read them.

Emma: Those were really fun. It was kind of a similar vibe to Chronicles of Narnia, sort of like that, like fantasy, you know, not quite sci-fi but just, I don’t know, like very interesting storylines. And then I loved, this is probably my all-time favorite was Little House on the Prairie. I was so obsessed with those books. I wanted to live their life. I wanted to be a homesteader. Like I would try making my own butter and bread and stuff out of reading from those books. So absolutely loved those. And as an adult, I’ve kind of stayed with like the classic fiction I would call Lord the Rings classic. I love that series and talk about the Hero’s journey. Yes. And learning from storylines. That is the Hero’s Journey. Frodo and Sam and all of the stuff that they go through and there’s all of these rich, you know, backgrounds and storylines. And as far as non-fiction goes, I love Malcolm Gladwell’s books. I learned so much from him. Interesting things about the world. There’s Tipping Point, there’s Blink, those are really cool books. If you’re maybe on the older side and looking to get into more, nonfiction and kind of learning about how the world works, to reference our podcast name. Freakonomics is another really good one where they talk about, you know, how the economy works and all of this crazy phenomenon and stuff like that. So that’s a really good one. But yeah, those are some of my favorites. Any other honorable mentions, Brittany, before we wrap it up here?

Brittany: Oh, there’s just two.

Emma: I’m putting you on the spot.

Brittany: I love Russian literature, but I dunno if that’s very Uplifting to read some Dostoevsky. But, you know, there’s too many, there’s too much to count. But find what makes you happy and read as much of that as you can, would be my advice.

Emma: Yes, totally. Follow your interests and just read about it and see where we. George Pearson. Yes. There you go. 12 rules, but awesome. All right, we will wrap it up here guys. I will put a link to those great illustrated classics cause I think they’re so awesome. And we will talk to you all again soon.

Brittany: Talk to you soon.