(By Chris Sharp) Men, I can imagine that you are tempted to buy tens of thousands of dollars of jewelry for your sweetheart this year for Valentine’s Day.  But before you do that, why not consider being her a book for about twenty dollars instead?

Oh, I understand the pick-me-up of buying her tens of thousands of dollars of jewelry.  For most of us, those tens of thousands of dollars represent the money we spent working all year, so all that jewelry worth that much means that we have spent every day working only for Her.

But consider the reasoning of buying her a book instead.

A book is actually strong enough to enter another person’s brain, and if the book is worthy enough, it can leave its best remnants there.  Not even million dollar jewelry is capable of doing that  -- I mean, ingratiating itself  sometimes permanently into a person’s thoughts is a gift of the gods.

But if you are considering supplementing your traditional Valentine’s gift either for him or for her with the gift of a book, here are some things that I have thought about in your situation.

First, is your friend a reader?  Does he or she read books?  If not, do not try to change your friend into something new now.  It is too late for that.

The best way to find out if your friend is a reader or not is to ask.  It does no good to simply guess is he or she is a reader based solely on education.

For example, I have known the best educated people to be non-readers because all the reading they were forced to do during their formal period of education was only remembered as formal torture that they managed to endure by superhuman will power. I have seen this especially happening with a lot of barristers who associate reading with reviewing legal codes.

On the other hand, a lot of people with only high school as a formal education are vociferous readers. 

Narrowing into a person’s reading tastes, if a person is close enough to you to be a recipient of your Valentine’s gift, you know already if that person’s favorite books are spiritual, romantic, historical, fantastic or even something else.  It is from that taste group that you ought to select a book for your friend’s mind.

Still, I think it may be an even more efficacious gesture to share some coaching about what can make the reading of an important book even more important.  Here are three that I try to carefully share with my own students.

  1. Don’t read more than one chapter of a book in any given day.  In fact, it has long been the intention of authors to create chapters as barriers against readers going on the next chapter without stopping to think about what they have just read.  Indeed, the gaps between chapters are actually supposed to serve as literary Sabbath days for the readers who after six days of the physical work of reading need to complete their project by resting and conjuring revelations about what they just worked on. 

Read more here: A Sharp View: How to read any book in three easy steps