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10 Tips on Reading from President Teddy Roosevelt

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This might be news to you, but Teddy Roosevelt was a voracious reader. He reportedly read around a book a day, and was often reading more than one book at a time.

Setting aside the fact that the piece he wrote for Ladies Home Journal smacks of a dude imparting knowledge to a bunch of daft ladies, he does gift humanity with some pretty great tips about books and reading.

So here we go!

10. Start reading young.

“Fathers and mothers who are wise can train their children first to practice, and soon to like, the sustained mental application necessary to enjoy good books.”

9. Take a big book on your journeys.

“Railway and steamboat journeys were, of course, predestined through the ages as aids to the enjoyment of reading. I have always taken books with me when on hunting and exploring trips.”

“In such cases the literature should be reasonably heavy, in order that it may last.”

8. Read what you love.

“The reader’s personal and individual taste must be the guiding factor when choosing a book. I like hunting books and books of exploration and adventure. I do not ask anyone else to like them.”

“…the equation of personal taste is as powerful in reading as in eating; and within certain broad limits the matter is merely one of individual preference, having nothing to do with the quality either of the book or of the reader’s mind.”

7. Even when the recommendation comes from someone respected.

“If a man or woman is fond of books he or she will naturally seek the books that the mind and soul demand. Suggestions of a possibly helpful character can be made by outsiders, but only suggestions; and they will probably be helpful about in proportion to the outsider’s knowledge of the mind and soul of the person to be helped.”

6. But the classics are always worth a go.

“Let man or woman, young man or girl, read some good author, say Gibbon or Macaulay, until sustained mental effort brings power to enjoy the books worth enjoying.”

5. There’s nothing wrong with using books to escape the real world.

“There are enough horror and grimness and sordid squalor in real life with which an active man has to grapple; and when I turn to the world of literature …I do not care to study suffering unless for some sufficient purpose. It is only a very exceptional novel which I will read if He does not marry Her; and even in exceptional novels I much prefer this consummation. I am not defending my attitude. I am merely stating it.”

4. Read to learn – on the topics that interest you.

“Even in pure literature, having nothing to do with history, philosophy, sociology, or economy, one book will often suggest another, so that one finds one has unconsciously followed a regular course of reading.”

3. Don’t pigeonhole yourself.

“A man with a real fondness for books of various kinds will find that his varying moods determine which of these books he at the moment needs.”

“A book must be interesting to the particular reader at that particular time.”

2. Read every day.

“All kinds of odd moments turn up during even a busy day, in which it is possible to enjoy a book. And then there are rainy afternoons in the country in autumn, and stormy days in winter, when one’s work outdoors is finished and after wet clothes have been changed for dry, the rocking chair in front of the open wood fire simply demands an accompanying book.”

1. Ignore those “must-read” lists.

“There remain enormous masses of books, of which no one man can read more than a limited number, and among which each reader should choose those which meet his own particular needs. There is no such things as a list of ‘the 100 best books’ or the ‘best 5-foot library.’ …To attempt to create such a library that shall be of universal value is foreordained to futility.”

“It is all right for a man to amuse himself by composing a list of a hundred very good books; and it he is to go off for a year or so where he cannot get many books, it is an excellent thing to choose a 5-foot library of particular books which in that particular year and on that particular trip he would like to read. But there is no such thing as a 5-foot library which will satisfy the needs of even one particular man on different occasions extending over a number of years.”

I love reading, and anyone who reads as much as Teddy is a-ok in my book!

See what I did there? Ha!