R is for Reading: An Unconventionalist’s Medicine for the Soul and Mind

I love my Kindle

Writing and Photography by Conni Biesalski | 
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Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.  ~Richard Steele

The mere brute pleasure of reading – the sort of pleasure a cow must have in grazing.  ~Lord Chesterfield

I read more than most people, and by that I mean books. 

We all read every day, one thing or another, mostly useless low-quality content of which a lot is probably in the form of online news, utterings on a variety of social media networks or advertising on the street.

I like to deliberately chose what I give my brain to work with. The best way I found out for myself is – tadaaa – reading books. A lot. Every day. For 2012 I set myself the goal to read one book a week.


The Reading Routine: One of the Awesome Few Routines in Life

  • Every morning I get up, make myself coffee and sit down on the couch in my pyjamas or comfortable clothing and read for thirty minutes to an hour. This might sound super-nerdy, but it’s true: I get already excited about reading when I wake up, which makes getting out of quite pleasurable. 
  • I have my Kindle on me 95% of the time. That way I can read whenever I feel like it, on the subway or when I’m waiting for the subway or while having lunch out and about in Berlin. I’m a very mobile reader. I don’t mind noise or millions of people around me when I read (compared to when I write or actually try to work!). Words can take all my attention and my ears go deaf. And if I do feel distracted, I put on my headphones and listen to some slow downbeat electronic music on my iPhone (see below for some of my favorite Soundcloud links).
  • Reading in bed before going to sleep is another favourite time of the day, perfect to unwind the mind from the day and to make the eyes tired – it shortens the amount of time actually going to sleep as well.

Writing gives me an incredible amount of pleasure and relaxation. Along with writing and diving, reading is my favourite pastime. I love how my mind can focus completely on the words in front of me, no hyperlinks, no flashy fonts or images, just plain and simple words, black on white. I dare to say that reading a book is one of the most minimalist actions in the 21st century.

I decided that what I read might be of interest to you, since you’re reading my blog. So from time to time I’ll give you an update on my reading material.


Here is what I’ve read in January:

  1. Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
  2. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin
  3. The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder Kabani
  4. Rework by Jason Fried und David Heinemeier Hansson
  5. Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
(Danger, Danger: They are rewards links for beer money)

I also started reading Walden by Henry Thoreau, but due to its 19th century language character, I decided to give up after 50 pages, buy it in German and start from the beginning.

As you might have noticed, I’m reading mostly non-fiction at the moment, but I have a few fiction books as well as poetry, short stories and literary essays lined up. I believe that it’s all in the mix. Before diving into non-fiction, I was literally addicted to crime stories by Scandinavian authors.

Kindle in its home

Kindle in its home


Learning to Write. Better.

Besides reading for pleasure and learning, another subordinate reason for reading like a maniac is to continuously improve my writing. I have found out that the two absolute best ways to do that are also the simplest: 

>> Writing every day. 500 words minimum, aim is 1000 words.

>> Reading books every day. 30 minutes minimum, one hour and more desirable.

Who would have thought, ey.


Extra Reads:

  1. Karol Gajda: Extraordinary Insights 1 &  Extraordinary Insights 2
  2. How to Build a Part-Time Social Media Business by Alexis Grant
  3. Freedom Business by Colin Wright


16 Blogposts I Highly Enjoyed in January:


My Current Reading & Writing Music Playlist on Soundcloud:


What books have you been reading lately? Do you have a reading routine? Let us know in the comments!


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3 Responses to R is for Reading: An Unconventionalist’s Medicine for the Soul and Mind

  1. Janet says:

    I love your recap here! I too love to read but usually end up starting multiple books (no kindle here, I’m old school and still buy physical books at discount prices.. $5 or less) and stopping before I finish! I should make reading more of a conscious daily choice though and start finishing more books :P I love non fiction and memoirs the most. Exploring entrepreneurship/business obviously.. spirituality, etc. the blogpost that stood out to me is the restaurant that pays for everyone’s drinks. I read a similar story that happened in Oregon! One person decided to pay for a random parties bill that he picked in the crowd of tables. When the group heard their bill was taken care for they also picked a random table to pay for! The giving chain lasted the entire day of that restaurant! amazing.

  2. That’s a helpful post, Conni. Good encouragements to stick to reading to relax, to escape, to wind down, to drift off, to inspire, to invigorate, and more.

    I’m in limbo on several books at the moment, one of which is Walden. I started it about two years ago. Some of it is very good and worth marking for future reference. Other parts contribute to the overall piece, though they might be forgettable. I like his style. Some days I’ll pick it up and I just can’t concentrate enough to digest it, and then other days it flows better.

    I get through about ten books a year, so my pace is slow. Also reading Hold Me Tight (Sue Johnson), The UltraMind Solution (Mark Hyman), The Speed of Trust (Stephen M.R. Covey), The Total Money Makeover (Dave Ramsey), and Ball Four (Jim Bouton). Anyone’s guess which one might finish first.