Non-Fiction books are not cover to cover reads.

Non-Fiction books are not cover to cover reads.

I was having a quick conversation with my daughter today. It’s always fleeting. She is twenty-three years old and grabbing every second from life. So a talk with her old Dad is low on priorities. Often, it’s a text conversation, but words and the various mediums used to communicate in the modern world add variety and pull on different emotions.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.

William Arthur Ward

I am cool with that. She should be chasing life with every ounce of energy she has. I am proud of her for that fact, but I do wish she would wear a jacket more. It’s getting cold out back home in Scotland as it is here in Beijing. The winter is coming, and I feel with a vengeance.

The conversation we had was about a book I had sent her via Amazon in the U.K. It felt like a similar conversation we had before, so I pushed a bit more for an answer.

The mighty tomb of a book that is Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris. 

An excellent book that has proven to be a valuable resource for me over the years. I recommend it in physical and kindle versions because you will want to highlight some stuff for future reference. Stay away from the audiobook version. Jesus, that’s a bit of a mess. 

Yeah, I have just given Tim Ferris feedback. Go figure, but the truth is truth. The audiobook version is awful.

Anyway, looping back to the conversation with my daughter. She hasn’t started the book because it’s a big physical book and can look daunting for a non-reader. 

‘I don’t know where to start with it, Dad. I think I would be best with a smaller book, and I can get used to reading that type of book.’

It is not one book to be read from cover to cover, I reassured her. It’s a book of resources, ideas and insights from famous and influential people. The starting point is to crack it open and find a page you like and read it until you want to make a jump to another page.

“It’s a bit like that movie, Jumper. Remember that movie, honey? We watched it together where the guy travelled around the globe by just thinking about the place. Remember the scene in Rome with his girlfriend.”

“Oh yes, Rome looked an amazing place to go see. Yeah, I remember that was a great movie.”

Do that, jump around the book at whatever pace you like and even read things twice if you want. That is what non-fiction books are. A journey across the author’s timeline and the map of the zones they paint is found on the contents page, and it is not meant to be read from page one to the end page…

You jump around a book like that. 

It is page thirty-five to page thirty-nine, and then head over to page one-hundred-and seven and back to sixty-eight.

The contents page is a place to kick off your journey. Start at that page and see what you might fancy, and jump right in. Or even pick a random number and dive right in at that point. There are no rules when reading this type of book.

The idea in life is to break some rules, and doing it with a book is a safe place to go crazy. Grab a pen and write all over it with notes and points that you like. Draw stars and circle lines when you like what you read. Think of it as a textbook but without the discomfort of exams and teachers.

You mark it up with the skills of a graffiti artist and the passion of brain surgeon.

With the Tribe of Mentors, our inspiring Tim Ferris drops an email asking the rich and famous a series of questions, and they reply with their answer. It’s a simple question and answer situation, but some of the responses are pretty interesting.

“What kind of questions does he ask them?”

Well, One of the questions is…

“What purchase of 100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last months or in recent memory?” I replied…

…As I read from the search result on the screen in front of me, I figured the carefully selected question that would resonate the most.

“That’s a cool question. What would be your answer to that, Dad?”


“An Air Fryer”, I replied.

Somehow the movie had influenced my choice, I think. But I am happy with that answer.

For now.

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