Thursday, July 28, 2011

What skills have you learned through reading?

When I want to learn how to do something, I read a book about it. And then I read more books about it, and then more. In this way, I've learned to do a number of things.

I learned how to ride a motorcycle by reading a book. I never spoke to a single human being about motorcycles. I read a book, rented a bike on three successive weekends and tooled around the Shea Stadium parking lot, trying stuff they talked about in the book. When I could do it all, I scheduled my test and got my motorcycle license.

Then I bought a bike and read the manual. I never in my life spoke to another human being about motorcycle maintenance, but my bike was always in perfect condition because I learned how to take care of it by reading the manual. (I also have a good work ethic and did everything the manual suggested.)

There was a time in my human rights work when I became aggravated by the mistakes that always appeared in our published works. Someone on the production end muffed it every single time, often killing the very point of the publication. So I bought books on desktop publishing and the elements of good page design. I read them all, practiced each lesson they taught me, and was able to create four good-looking newsletters, tons of flyers and reports (and many funny things for my friends). I learned it all from reading. (Same with software. I'm the guy who actually read the manuals. You may have heard of me.)

Enough from my end. What skills have you learned from a book?