Book lovers day, bookworms and billionaires

By Dr. William H. Baker

Contributing Writer

The first Saturday in November is not a federal holiday, but it is a day that gets attention from folks who like to read and study. It’s called National Book Lovers Day in the USA.

It’s a bit unusual perhaps to link this day to billionaires. But, there’s a story there, and you don’t have to be a bookworm to appreciate it.

James Paine, an Inc.com writer, devoted a column last month to billionaires who credit their success to reading. He began his column with a brief story of the writer, Steve Siebold, who in a period of 30 years has interviewed 1,200 of the richest people in the world.

Siebold is an expert in the field of mental toughness training and has published extensively on the subject. Here are titles of just three of his books that might lead you to the bookstore or the library to check one out: One is “Die Fat or Get Tough;” another is “How Rich People Think;” and the third is “Secrets of the World Class: Turning Mediocrity into Greatness.”

In the book “How Rich People Think,” Siebold wrote “Walk into a wealthy person’s home, and one of the first things you’ll see is an extensive library of books they’ve used to educate themselves on how to become more successful.”

Most of the billionaires that James Paine wrote about are highly successful people who “… credit their success to constantly reading.”

He included Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX; Oprah Winfrey, former talk show host and sponsor of a famous book club; Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO; and Bill Gates, Microsoft founder. Also included was a name not so familiar to most of us: Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.

Munger jokes that he reads so much, his children think he’s “a book with a couple of legs sticking out.” Musk described himself as a “bookwormy” kid who would sometimes read two books a day. He said he learned to build rockets by reading books.

Winfrey credits reading for helping her move from a childhood of poverty to into a lifetime of achievement. Someone as busy as Zuckerberg finds time to read two books a month, a New Year’s resolution that provided diverse reading adventures.

Gates reportedly reads about 50 books per year – roughly one per week. He refers to reading as his primary avenue to learning and understanding.

For the bookworms among us, some of the wealthiest people we’ve heard about because of financial success are offering us encouragement to keep reading. Incidentally, the first known use of the word bookworm was in the year 1580. So for more than 400 years the definition has remained the same: “a person devoted to reading and study.”

National Book Lovers Day is for you.

William H. Baker is a Claiborne County native and former Middlesboro resident. Email: wbaker@limestone.edu