I think it’s a mistake to read a good book once.

Today I was flipping through the dog-eared pages of a book I read by flashlight in my college dorm a few years ago. I was amazed to re-read the things I had since forgotten, discovering lessons in this book with new eyes.

I was at a Border’s yesterday, salivating at the liquidation sale they were having. So many books flying off the shelves selling for up to 70% off. I went for the business section. I was filled with anticipation to get my latest stack of business books to plop on my desk, and all for a fraction of the cost!

As if in rewind, I took slow steps backward through the business section, head slanted to scan every title waiting to find something I had been meaning to read… As my eyes furiously sought out the books I’d buy, I had the nagging voice telling me to stop looking. Stop Looking.

Soon the voice (and the ache in my neck) was too much. I stopped. I didn’t need another book. I had volumes of books at home I have yet to read. Books with oceans of wisdom I’ve yet to explore. So as much as it killed me to pass on such heavily discounted reading I walked out.

I have reached a point where I don’t need more answers. I do, but not the answers I can get in reading a new book. The books are the training wheels that I have used a little too much. I’m on that cusp where it’s time to test out the hours upon hours of study using only what I have now.

Buying another book would be a veiled form of avoiding what needs to be done. Another diversion strategy.

I just read a chapter in an old book and it triggered a breakthrough and it shows me I don’t need to seek anything new.

What I need is what I have.

Now as I think back on reading this particular book a few years ago, I realize now that I’m in a vastly different place than when I was when I first read it. I now have years of knowledge and experience I didn’t have then. I have created a vastly more fertile ground to plant it’s wisdom.

What am I getting at?

Speaking from my experience, There are certain books I’ve read to help solve and overcome certain obstacles. I first read them and thought

“Wow! It all makes sense now! I know what to do.”

A sigh of relief ensues and I proceed to implement some portion of it. But times passes and robs my memory of it’s lessons, so I forget crucial lessons. So I read another book, and another, and another.

I can see in me and in others, books (of the “How-To” variety not novels) and many other positive things can become a crutch. We rely on them in the place of our own faculties. We forget to rely on our own intuition and experience in figuring out what to do next. We forget to trust our abilities because we didn’t write the book. F* That.

Stop Aiming and fire already.

I also realize we need these books and if a book if it contains answers valuable to you, it must be completely used and abused and internalized to the point where you could re-write it yourself. Think about it. For $14.95 some author spent a lifetime learning the lessons and emptied his soul before you, and you’re gonna condemn it to a life on the coffee table? Meanwhile you’re moving on to another book, on a similar subject, hoping to gain more answers you already have. You know better than that.

So If I can give you one piece of unsolicited advice it’d be this:

When a book gets bad close it immediately and throw it out the window or burn it like a Bradbury Fireman in 451.

And always Read the good books over and over and over.

Constant re-reading, I’m thinking, is why clerics commit their lives to studying religious text, and virtuoso musicians will always study musical theory.

It has the answers, we constantly forget and need to re-learn.