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Power Of Reading Great Book
Speaker 1: Welcome to The Effortless English Show, with the world’s number one English teacher, A.J. Hoge, where A.J.’s more than 40 million students worldwide finally learn English once and for all, without the boring textbooks, classrooms, and grammar drills. Here’s A.J. with a quick piece to help you learn to speak fluent English effortlessly.
A.J. Hoge: A.J. Hoge, The Effortless English Show. Welcome. Are you an intermediate-level English learner? Intermediate level. Well, then, Power English is for you. That’s the best course for you to start with The Effortless English program, my Power English course at effortlessenglishclub.com. Effortlessenglishclub.com. Power English will teach you to speak confidently. Today’s topic, changing your life and the power of great books. Great books. When I think of my own life, when I look at my life, I’m 49 years old now, so if I look back at my life, in my forties, in my thirties, my twenties, even my teens, and I look at the points where my life changed in some way, where I made decisions or I did things to change my life.
So I don’t mean, not some accident happened, not that I got lucky, but I mean I made a decision myself that I changed my own mindset, that I got powerful new ideas, that I decided to try a different action, a different method, to look for different life experiences, all of these things. I mean, these are the points where your life changes.
Any age. It doesn’t matter what your age is. There are points in your life where you will make sudden, big changes. You’ll have a sudden insight, a realization, an understanding about your world, and you’ll make decisions, and those decisions will change your life.
These are powerful points in our lives. We all have them.
Most people, most people, unfortunately, as you know, very passive, trained in schools, most people are passive, so most people, they wait, so they have a few of these times in their lives, but it’s just from luck or tragedy. These are the two things that usually cause people to make big changes in life. So number one is a tragedy, something bad happens to you. You didn’t expect it. Some horrible thing happens, and that can change your life.
Like my first girlfriend was killed in a car accident after I wasn’t dating her anymore. She was married and had kids, but still, I was still a friend of hers, and that was a big tragedy and a huge shock, huge, big shock to me, and that certainly calls me to think a lot differently about life in general and about my life.
Okay, so that’s a tragedy, but that’s nothing I chose, obviously. It just happened, and these things happen, usually losses. Another one is, for example, you’re in a relationship, maybe you’re married, or maybe you’re dating, and then the other person breaks up with you. Right? They leave you, and, oh, you feel horrible. It’s another tragedy in your life that you don’t choose, but it happens to you, and it can cause huge changes in your life and huge changes in your thinking, and if you’re smart, if you’re intelligent, and if you are strong, emotionally, you can use even those tragedies, even those terrible things in your life, you can use to create positive changes so that finally that terrible event will actually cause you to get better, stronger, smarter, more successful, more happy, more kind, all of these things. So those tragedies can be used.
They can be opportunities for growth and learning. And, of course, the other thing that can change our life quite a bit would be, on the positive side, or the pleasant side, not necessarily positive, but on the pleasant side, the pleasurable side, would be something very lucky, something happens to you that’s very lucky. I mean, for example, maybe you win a million dollars. Right? Somehow you enter a contest and you win a million dollars, yay! And that, of course, would cause a big change in your life, but you didn’t decide that. Really, it was just luck, and of course, actually, sometimes these lucky things, in the long run, long term, they actually can turn out to be kind of bad experiences. A lot of people who win money, for example, they get a lot of money, and everybody thinks, “Yeah, great!”
But what happens is, their life becomes much more stressful, and because it was only luck, they did not earn the money, so they really don’t understand how money works.
They don’t know how to manage money, so most people who win money, in a few years, I can’t remember the exact number of years, I think it’s something like five years, five to ten years, most of them have lost all of it. They spend it all. Even worse, most of them have a lot of stress in their life because of the money, because people, old friends, family, people who are not really their friends, everybody suddenly wants money from them. Right? Everybody around them suddenly starts asking them for money, and they can become quite unhappy, actually, so this … It seems lucky, but maybe it’s not.
So these two kinds of events, that’s what most people wait for or hope to avoid, but these are the events that change most people, that cause most people to make big decisions and to grow and to learn and to make changes in their lives. But if you think about it, trying to use only tragedy or luck to change your life is a very, very passive way to live. All right, again, it’s like being in school. You just wait for the teacher to tell you what to do. Well, in this case, you’re just waiting. You’re being passive. You’re just waiting and just every day just doing the same thing, and then something happens. You didn’t choose it, and then you finally decide to make some changes, because you have to, you’re forced to, but it’s very passive, and you never know when these things will happen. People who are most successful and most happy in life actively make changes.
They actively make changes in their life.
They actively learn and grow by taking their own actions, and today I want to talk to you about one of the best ways to do this, and that is by reading great books. Reading great books. Because when I look at my own life, okay? Forget the tragedies. Forget the luck.
When I look at the other times I have changed my life in a good way and gotten stronger, learned more, improved, become more happy, almost every time it was because of a book that I read, a great book that gave me a different way of looking at the world, a different understanding of my own life, and life in general, that gave me new skills, new methods, new strategies to achieve a goal that I wanted.
Or some great books have given me new goals, goals I never thought about before, ideas that, before the book, I never even thought about, and then suddenly, I get this whole new idea, this new vision of what life can be like. Great books have changed my life many, many, many times. Powerful, because you think about it. When someone writes a book, I mean, they are putting their heart and their mind and their soul into the book. Writing a book is not easy. Okay? It takes a lot of work to write a book, and when you’re reading a book, you’re getting the wisdom and the knowledge of that writer, of that author.
That wisdom, that knowledge, maybe they needed years and years and years of experience to learn all of that, and then they put it in a book, and then one week, you can learn from them, all of their experience, all of their knowledge. They needed years and years and years. You can read their book and learn it in a week. My own book, for example, so I finally wrote my own book, Effortless English: Learn To Speak English Like A Native. Well, I wrote that after, what, 17 years of teaching experience. It took me 17 years to develop that whole system, to learn everything from all of my teaching experience, before Effortless English, and with Effortless English, so when you read that book, and I’ve … It’s a fairly short book.
It’s fairly easy to read, because I know English learners are mostly reading it, so I tried to make it as short as possible, as simple as possible, but that’s the essence. That’s the main points of 17 years of teaching experience. You’re getting it, and you can read it in one book, and that’s the power of books. So powerful. I’m going to give you some examples from my own life, some of the great books I have enjoyed. Recently, on Twitter, a few people have asked me, “Talk about your favorite books,” and so my favorite book changes. And I don’t know, maybe the word “favorite” book, I don’t like, really, that phrase so much. “Favorite book,” in my mind, it feels like the book that I enjoy the most, right? That I like, kind of like entertainment, like my favorite movie.
But for books, I think instead of, it’s not really about liking the book. It’s more like how much did the book cause me to think? How much did I learn from it? How much did I change? Some books maybe I don’t even enjoy reading, that are tough to read, but they change my thinking and my life so much. Same for you. Same for you. This is the power of great books. Your whole life can change just from reading a book. One book can do it.
I’m going to give you several examples from my own life. Book number one, Tony Robbins. Tony Robbins, was it Awaken the Power Within, the Giant Within? No, it was Unlimited Power. Unlimited Power, his first book. His first book, Unlimited Power. I read that as a teenager, so I was a teenager, I think about 16, I think 16 years old. Shy, just very passive, kind of …
I would read some, I was reading, so that was active, but otherwise, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and then I read that book, and that book was so powerful, it taught me practical psychology. It taught me that my mind, that my thinking, was the key to everything that I wanted in life, that by managing my own emotions, and that by managing my own thoughts, I could create any life I wanted, I could create the life I wanted, and that it was mastering myself, mastering my own mind was the key. And then that book also gives you some strategies, some techniques for doing that, and a couple of them are in my book, actually, because they’re basic NLP, neurolinguistic programming. They’re basic techniques from that system of what I call success psychology. So that got me interested.
That changed my whole thinking about life and success and goals and everything, and it taught me a few different beliefs. Belief number one was that, forget luck. Luck is for losers. Only losers wait for luck, and usually it never comes, and if it does come, they’re not ready for it, so forget luck. Mastering your own mind, choosing your own goals, that’s the secret to success, and then the other part was to take full responsibility for my own life, and that was important for me to learn at that age, especially as a teenager, that it was not my parents who were responsible for my success or my happiness, not the school. Nobody else. Ultimately, finally, only me.
And if I look at it now, now, all these years later, I can realize, “Wow, that book, because of that change in my thinking, I mean, that, it’s one reason I am living the way I am today. It’s one reason I started my own business, eventually, many, many years later.” I mean, it changed the course of my life and my thinking, had a big effect. I didn’t realize it at that time, of course. This is the thing about these great books. Usually you don’t realize at the time how important they are. Right? So you don’t, not usually, you don’t usually read a book and then say, “Oh, my God, my life is totally changed now.” That’s not usually what happens. Certainly for me, that maybe never happened.
Instead, I would read the book and think, “Well, that’s a lot of interesting ideas. That’s interesting. Whoa, that’s powerful. I liked it,” and then I go and I start reading other things, but something about that book, the ideas, will stay in my mind, and they’ll keep going kind of a little deeper and a little deeper. I’ll keep thinking about them again and again and again, and the really great books I’ll, sometimes, one year later, two years later, I go back, and then I read them again, because I keep thinking about them again and again and again, and I realize, “Ooh, this is important. This is useful for my life,” so then I’ll go back and read them again, and then that’s when I start to realize, “This is a great book.”
Another great book, Walden. Walden by Henry David Thoreau. Not an easy book to read for a lot of people because of the language. It was written, what, 150 years ago, 1800s, before the American Civil War, so the style of writing is very formal and a bit old, but powerful book, and the key point of that book is simplicity, to live simply, that we don’t need a lot. Already, in Thoreau’s time, in the 1800s, already people were very materialistic, right? Very focused on things, buying things, buying things, collecting things, more and more and more, money, money, money. It was already happening back then. It’s not something new now. We have more technology. We have more little toys. We have more of a consumer culture, but it was already happening back then. In fact, it’s probably a basic human nature for at least a few thousand years.
And in this book, this guy, Henry David Thoreau, he decided, “Ah, I’m sick of all that. I’m going to live very simply. I’m going to go.” He went into the woods, into the forest with the trees, and he found some little area of land, and he built his own tiny house, and he lived alone out there very, very, very, very simply. Now, again, this was a powerful, powerful book for me, and it caused me to do some kind of crazy things. I kept thinking about this over and over, and I realized, “Wow, this is good for my own life,” because at that time, when I read the book, I was poor. I didn’t have any money. Very little. I had some money, when I was working, but not much, and I was very frustrated, because I felt like I was a slave to my jobs. Right?
If I quit my jobs, then I would have no money, so then I would, of course, have to get another job immediately, so I felt like, “I don’t have any freedom to do anything. I don’t have any time.” I wanted to travel around the world. I also just wanted to have more time to read and relax and to hang out with my friends, do other things in my life, not just working, working, working all the time. And until I read that book, I was frustrated. I didn’t know like, “How can I get out of this? What’s the solution?” And after I read Thoreau, it got me thinking, because Thoreau, what he did was a very strong action.
Right? It was not a small action. Very strong. He basically had almost nothing. He grew his own food out there. He built his own house, so he lived off of almost no money at all, but he had tremendous freedom, right?
Didn’t have to work, so all day he could do anything he wanted to, and that got me thinking, and so I decided, “Well, I like being around people. I don’t want to go live in the woods in a tent or build my own house. I don’t want that, but how could I do this?
How could I still cut my expenses a lot?” I was inspired by Thoreau, by his thinking, and by his actions, and by his great book. And that’s why I eventually, I actually lived in my car for one summer, and then later I lived in a van, little bit bigger of a truck, for a whole year, and I did that so I would not have to pay rent. No rent. I cut my expenses, and because of that, I had tons of freedom. I didn’t need to work full-time anymore.
I only had to work part-time, and I was able to still save money so I could travel, I could meet my friends, I could relax, I could read books. I had a very relaxed, free life. Still do, but that was the first time I managed to do that as an adult after I left school. Big, big change, and even today, still, even now, even though I have a very successful company and I’ve got plenty of money, money is not a problem anymore, and I’ve got plenty of time, freedom’s not a problem, but I still live very simply. I still live very, very simply compared to my income, and Thoreau was a big reason for that. He convinced me that simple life is the better and happier way to live. So powerful. That book changed my whole life by reading one book, and it helped me to solve a problem that had made me so unhappy for a very long time. A final example, a third example. This is a really simple book.
This is kind of surprising, but the first time I traveled abroad, I’ve told this story, I went to India. India, right? And I told this story. I was in graduate school, and I knew that I had a summer. There was a break, a summer break, between my classes, so I knew, “Oh, okay, I’ve got a summer, and I’ve got a little bit of money, because I’ve lived simply.
Where should I go?” It was my first time to leave America. First trip abroad. I was so excited, but where to go? Now, the first thing that influenced me was that a friend told me about India. He mentioned India, told me about traveling there, and it sounded really amazing, but it also sounded difficult. Right? I have never left America, and India and America are very, very, very different, especially traveling around. Very different.
It’s hard to think of a country that would be more different than the United States.
Okay? Especially at the time I went. So even though I was very interested in it, I was also scared, quite honestly. I was scared. I was traveling alone, never had left America, and India sounded great. It sounded like an amazing adventure, a huge challenge, a fascinating country, I thought, from my friend, but then I also thought, “I don’t know if I can do this. I mean, how will I find a place to stay? I mean, how will I get around?” He had warned me that when you’re traveling alone in India as a foreigner, a lot of the thieves, a lot of the kind of bad people will, they’ll notice you and they’ll try to steal money from you, and you have to be very careful, so I was like, oh, scared.
So part of me was thinking, “Well, maybe I should go to Europe first. Maybe Europe would be better. The culture’s, and everything, is closer to the United States. It would be less of a shock.” So I was thinking about that, because my confidence was low, but then I went to a bookstore, and I used to just walk around bookstores. Remember when there were bookstores in America? They’re all dying now, but I used to just walk around big bookstores and just look for something interesting, just the cover looked good, I would get it and read it. So I went, and then I started walking through the travel section, and I saw a guidebook for India, a travel guidebook for India.
So not a philosophy book, not a classic, just a guidebook, and I thought, “Well, I’m going to buy it. I’m going to buy it,” and so I bought it, and then I took it home, and then I read it over the next week or two. I read it. I mean, I read it from front to back. I read the whole thing, and it’s nothing very interesting. It just talked about how to get around, how to find a train, how to get a bus from this city to another city, different places you could stay and how much they cost, and the food, but reading that book gave me confidence. I realized, “Oh, with this book, I don’t need to be afraid. It’s okay. I can just use the travel book, and I’ll be able to go to a new town, a new city. I’ll be able to find out where the rail station is. I can travel, and I can then find a hotel. It has restaurants in here with the different prices, so I can find cheap restaurants for my budget.”
It also had a section about the dangers, all the difficult parts, the different ways people might try to steal from you, and just by reading all of that and realizing, “Oh, okay. I kind of know how to deal with this now,” it gave me confidence. That travel book gave me confidence, enough confidence to book my ticket, to buy my flight to India. And that changed my life in a big way. That was a hugely important experience in my life, that trip to India, and that guidebook, that simple guidebook, was a huge influence in my decision. Big, big influence, and that changed the direction of my life too. So can you see it? The power of books, the power of even one book to completely change your life right now, I know, all of us, so this is true for all of us, so I know it’s true for you. You have some big problem in your life. There’s something that bothers you. Maybe it’s something you want.
Maybe it’s something you used to want, a dream, but now you kind of forgot about it, because you think it’s not possible. Maybe it’s just something that’s bothering you, that’s unpleasant, that’s making you unhappy. Maybe it’s in your relationships. Maybe it’s money. Maybe it’s learning. Maybe it’s, I don’t know, your health, your fitness. I’m not sure what it is, but we all have problems, and we all have dreams and goals. So what I’m telling you is this. That thing that seems impossible to you, that thing that seems super difficult, that thing you don’t know how to solve or what to do or how to get it, you are only one book away from solving the problem. You are only one book away from doing it. One book could completely change the situation. What used to be impossible, suddenly you realize, “It’s not impossible. Now I know how to do it.” What used to be scary suddenly is not so scary, and you have the courage to do it.
Or, even better, I think, even more exciting, there’s a book out there that, if you read it, it will open up something completely new, something you’re not even thinking about right now, something you didn’t think was possible or good or interesting. And suddenly you’ll read a book, and you’ll say, “Oh, my God, this is amazing. I’m going to do this. I’m going to try this.” That’s the power of books. Now, I should say what kind of books are powerful.
Not textbooks. See, this is why school sucks. Yeah, I don’t like school. You know that. I talk about it all the time. This is one of the reasons. They kill, they kill great books, and instead they give you these stupid textbooks that have no life, no emotion, no soul, no heart.
Just a bunch of dry facts. Many times the facts are lies and propaganda, or they’re just boring and useless, or maybe even they’re useful, but they got no life in them. They’re not human. They’ve sucked it all out. You’re not inspired by a textbook, so when I think of all the great books I’ve read that have influenced my life, I cannot think of one textbook, not one, that changed my life in any way. In fact, I’ll be honest. When I think about my second year of college, I just, I stopped reading them. I just decided, “These things suck. I’m not even going to … “ I stopped buying them. They’re super expensive in America, textbooks for college, for university, so I realized, “I can save a lot of money every semester. I just won’t buy the book,” so I stopped buying the books. I found they were boring and useless, so I’m not talking about textbooks. What I am talking about are books with some soul in them. Right? That come from the writer’s, deep inside them, something that was important to that writer.
Now, that might be philosophy. It might be classics. It might be fiction, but usually it’s literature. Right? Like reading, I loved Lord of the Rings, okay? I loved it. As a kid, I loved it. It was one of the first books I read. Big books, novels. I love it, and it did influence me, for sure, because I love fantasy and science fiction, but in other ways, the influence was not so deep, because it’s more entertainment. So when we’re talking about fiction, I’m usually, it’s more classic books, but also books about history, biographies, and also nonfiction.
Non-fiction can really have a big, big effect on you. So, when we talk about true education, realize that you can create your own education for anything.
Let’s say maybe you were not, maybe in university, eh, maybe you went to university and you thought, “Well, I got my degree, but feel like it was not that great.” Well, you can create your own education still now. How do you do it? Just go out there and start reading books. Now, there’s different ways you can do this. One thing you can do, one way to do, is to give yourself a new general education. So I think university education is terrible now, and also high school, secondary education, terrible, but that doesn’t matter. You can go and give yourself your own great, what I would call, a general education, so history, basic sciences, philosophy, and some biographies maybe. At least those things. So you could go out there and just read lots of great books on those topics to give yourself a great background, and wisdom, and understanding of human thinking and human society. The best of what humans have known and written about. I’m doing that a bit now. I’m really, right now, I’m more into, more focused on general education.
I’m reading about the history of the Roman Empire. My next book will be about the history of the Persian kings. I just finished reading Julius Caesar’s Commentaries about the Gallic Wars. A classic book, really great. Things like that. I’m really, right now, focused on history, and I’ve always liked reading about psychology and philosophy and religion as well. So that’s very general. You can read widely and give yourself a great education, much better than any school. The second way you can do this, you can also create a specialized education. So let’s say you’re having problems in one part of your life. For example, money. Well, what you can do is go out and start reading lots, and lots, and lots of great books on the topic of money, the economy, personal finance, investing, even living simply. All of those kinds of things.
Just read, and read, and read, and read, and then you might find the strategies. In fact, I think you probably will eventually find the method, or the strategies, or the ideas, that will help you solve your problem, that will be the right one or the right ones, the right approach, the right method, the right way, for you, for your life, for your personality, for your goals, for your thinking, in money. And this is how I did it, okay? So, for example, business. I was an English teacher. My background before I started Effortless English, my background was, I had a degree in social work, like counseling, psychology-type stuff. I had a undergraduate degree in journalism. Ptui! Yuck. Sad to say that, but it’s true. And then I also had a master’s degree in teaching English.
So basically, no business knowledge or experience, really, at all. Nothing. Didn’t go to school, didn’t get a master’s degree in business, none of that. Nothing for business, or money. So how did I do it? How did I learn it all, because there’s a lot to learn? I started reading books. That’s all. I read, and read, and read, and read tons, and tons, and tons of books. Lots, and lots, and lots of books on all different parts of business, all different types of business, all different ways to do business. And I found the methods and strategies that fit me and fit my goals, right, because there’s lots of ways to do business, and some of them don’t fit me. For example, I don’t want to build a huge company. Not interested, don’t want it. I don’t want a lot of employees. It’s too much work.
I like a simple life, I don’t want 1,000 employees. I don’t even want 10 employees, okay?
So I decided right away that I wanted to be successful. I wanted a successful business, for sure. I wanted the freedom, but part of that freedom was that the business had to be simple so that I could have plenty of time for other things in my life. And so, by reading and reading lots, and lots, and lots of books about business, and also studying successful businesspeople, I found the methods and the way that would work for me, for my goal, to create that kind of business. Now, of course, other people have different ideas. Probably, I’m not normal. I think most businesspeople dream of building a huge business and making millions, and millions, and billions, and building a big company.
That’s fine, it’s okay, but for that goal, you need something different, so you would read different kinds of books. But say you’re in charge. The worst thing I could have done, the very worst thing, would have been going to school to get a master’s degree in business.
That would’ve been stupid. It would not have worked. Let me tell you, people who get master’s degrees in business, they don’t usually start their own businesses. They don’t learn useful, practical business skills. They learn how to be an employee in a big company. That’s what they learn. They do not learn how to start their own small business. So you’ve seen the point, right? Education really is about two things. One is, of course, you can have a mentor, someone who’s going to help teach you and guide you.
That’s one way of getting a good education, one part of it. I didn’t have that for business. I had to do it by myself, but the other way, the way that all of us have available, that we can all do, is just books. Books.
Anything in the world you want to learn, it’s out there in a book somewhere. Any goal you have, somebody did it already, and they wrote a book about it, teaching you exactly how they did it and, therefore, how you can do it. Any problem you have, even in relationships, somebody wrote a book out there that will solve your problem. Have I sold you? You’re sold, right? You believe me? So what are you going to do? Get out there and read, read, read. You ask me, “What should I read?” Just start reading anything, but build this habit of reading. You should always be reading a book. Read every day. Read every day. Even if it’s a little bit. Read, read, read. No, not the internet.
Books. Read a book every day.
You don’t have to finish the book in one day, of course, but read a few pages out of a book. Every single day. Make it your habit. Make it your hobby. Instead of just listening to music, read a book. It’ll also help your English, by the way. Of course, listen to my courses, listen to my podcast, but when you need a change, when you need a little variety, read a book in English, too. Read, read, read. The power of reading will change your life. Join my Power English course. My Power English course. It’s on the homepage at effortlessenglishclub.com. That’s effortlessenglishclub.com. Go there now, join my Power English course, and read a book. See you next time. Bye for now
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