What’s your guilty pleasure?

I’ve been building a book collection for over 20 years now. After my home, it’s probably the material thing I value most.

Here’s my favourite part. Non-fiction books, covering work, personal development, mental models, biographies. The things I love to talk and write about.

I don’t get a lot of time to read. But some days I come down here and grab 3 or 4 books and flip through, looking for some inspiration.

I can do this more easily than in my Kindle or Audible apps, which get their own time and attention (Kindle – train; Audible – household chores and falling asleep at night).

And there’s the satisfaction many of us feel, of leafing through physical pages, instead of getting our content from yet another electronic device.


I love the stories the books remind me of:

  • The 4-Hour Work Week kickstarted my adventure to China in 2009. Tim Ferriss has been a guiding light for me since then
  • A friend offered to collect Poor Charlie’s Almanack for me from the US while visiting her husband on business. But it’s a BIG book, she’s a slim person and the book weighs 2.5kg. So there was a surprise for her!
  • I read Richard Branson’s lively Losing My Virginity whilst taking my accounting finals and it gave me something on which I could ‘hang’ the Risk, Finance and Strategy theory. Better than any study partner I could have had. Although the book never wanted to go for a beer

And more besides

  • Books I borrowed from my Mum, because she has a similar shelf
  • Books I’ve picked up from charity shops, killing time with the children whilst my wife sees to something on a trip to town
  • Books I quote endlessly at work (Good to Great, The Lean Startup, Leading Beyond Change)
  • Books which help me look ahead to where I want to go – presenting, writing and coaching
  • Not to forget the microphone that causes endless tension between me and my wife (I wanted to trial being an Audible narrator, and bought this to experiment. It now sits there as a trophy to my inability to follow through on my plans. But has taken on new meaning recently – a motivation to start and keep going)

If only I had the time

I have more books than I’ll ever read cover-to-cover. And I’m OK with that. Some time ago I came across this concept of the ‘anti library’ and it resonated with me. Here’s a great article from Farnam Street on Nassim Taleb which explains more.

At the same time, I wish I had more time to read.

If I took a week off and just spent it reading, making notes, highlighting, synthesising ideas like Bill Gates does in his “think weeks“, where would I be? What about if that was a month?

It’s the ‘imagine winning the lottery’ type of conversation, only much smaller scale.

But arguably more achievable.

How about it?

Maybe I can’t take a week off from work. But I might be able to read for an hour a week over the next year, to complete about the same amount of time.

I could rotate that time between each of my platforms (bookshelf, audible, kindle).

I could bring out what’s buried in those books and share it here.

And whilst it might take a lot longer, it’s actually achievable.

My new challenge

So let that be my new challenge, a couple of half hour sessions a week, indulging my guilty pleasure and finding things to share here.

Watch this space for more!

What about you?

So what’s your guilty pleasure and how could you get more of it in your life?


Today is 8th July. I drafted this a couple of weeks ago. It shows how out of synch my writing is because I thought I’d written this article before I posted this one, which is about the first book I’ve picked up in my new challenge. Ha ha!

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