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Over the last three years, I’ve invested a lot of my time in reading books. It’s probably one of those habits I’m most proud of. For those three years I can count on my fingers the days that I didn't pick up my Kindle to continue my current book. It's an essential part of exploring and I don't want to be without it.

The reasons why I pick a new book to read can be plentiful and much varied. Sometimes I'm eager to learn a new subject. Other times I want my mind to slow down. Now and then I just want to flee for a moment.

Gathering fuel

But the common denominator, the sole purpose for me reading is that I'm always on the lookout for new fuel. I very much like the idea of conceiving art as a type of intellectual fuel for your spirit. It may sound a bit odd, but that fuel is what guides much of my everyday life decisions. There may be a fight I have to take, a problem that needs solving, a tactic for handling a nasty situation. I'm arming myself to be ready for that.

Throwing books at myself is a little bit like throwing ideas at a wall. Some bounce back. Others don't. I have to find what resonates with my thinking. And by doing that, I kind of carve back layer by layer of this gigantic onion which is me.

I wouldn't be where I am today if hadn't started that wonderful habit of reading. It has given me the ideas, the courage, the arguments to take the decisions I needed to make. Reading books keep expanding my toolset in so many directions, but it isn't just the perspective of personal development that keeps me coming back to the books.

Step back

As important as I've noticed it is to keep throwing fresh ideas in your head (and also validate the existing ones), it’s equally important for me to slow down. Take a break. Step aside and withdraw. Sometimes I enjoy to read just for the sake of reading. Sounds like too much zen? Well, that is exactly what an overworked brain needs now and then.

Finding your own kin

For an outsider it may sound odd, like a waste of time, and not very helpful for my "everyday life" when I say I spent last weekend reading one of Robert Heinlein’s old science fiction novels. But helpful is exactly what it is. Heinlein’s characters are spot on–to the point–the type of people that resonates with my own philosophy. I can connect with them. So that’s where I collect a lot of my guidance from. It's such a relief to find these characters–and the authors that made them come alive–where they can otherwise be so hard to find in "everyday life".

Connecting the dots

There’s another fascinating aspect of reading that I was surprised to find out. The experiences books can bring back to you. What happens to me over the time I’m reading a certain book, stays with that book. Sounds weird, right? So when I’m skimming through this book a year from now it brings up all sorts of strange memories. I can remember where I were when I was reading it, what I was thinking, if I ate something special, even the smells. It’s been an odd thing to discover but has just made me enjoy the reading experience even more. It creates an emotional map connected to each book. What a lovely thing.