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Why Old Books Are Better Than New Books

Why Old Books Are Better Than New Books

Books, both old and new, are great things, but our culture emphasizes that “newer” things are often better. It’s hard to say no to your favorite contemporary writer or an amazing up-and-coming author’s latest publication, but I’m inclined to read the classics first. It can be a little daunting when there’s so much out there and you have a million things on your to-do list, but it’s always worth it to pick up an old book between reading newer ones. Here’s why old classic books stand out from new books.

1. They are free

The old classics are usually free or deeply discounted at used book stores, book fairs or thrift stores. There are many ways to go about finding these free books: The first obvious place would be your local library, which I think is the most underrated institution of our time. There are some lovely “free bookstores” online such as Project Gutenberg and Bartleby, which provide free e-books, and Librivox, a website providing free audio books.

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2. They show a different way of life from another time

Older books are valuable because they show life from another time. Many books are stories or myths from the past, stemming from titles like Beowulf and To Kill a Mockingbird. Everyone knows about these stories. Each book has a tale to tell from that point in history, animated in the color of your imagination. In this sense, reading an old book is almost like visiting a highly interpretative museum.

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3. They are for everybody

Old books do not discriminate against age. Some of the best stories of all time were stories for children, such as anything written by the Brother’s Grimm or Beatrix Potter. Pretty much any movie produced by Disney (The Little Mermaid, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan) has probably come from a really awesome kid’s book. Even The Hobbit was initially written for children. What’s great is that you don’t have to be a child to enjoy these books as an adult. Pick up The Princess and the Pea or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and tell me that there isn’t a moral you can’t learn from those story.

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4. They provide context

Classics can give you a new perspective on an old idea. Reading an old book helps you understand references and conversations, no matter how high-brow or low-brow they are. In fact, old books can provide a huge sense of inspiration, and you don’t necessarily have to be a writer to be inspired. Filmmakers, costume designers and academics rely on classic novels to learn, understand, re-create a story, or prove a point.

5. They will be relevant for future generations

Invest in reading a quality old book for literature class or leisure and you’ll remember it forever. Chances are it will even be referred to in pop culture either implicitly or explicitly. How many Simpsons episodes have you watched that had literary references in them? I bet there are more references in that show than you can shake a stick at. Just because a book is old, it doesn’t mean it has lost its relevance.

6. They don’t need to prove themselves

The best old classical books have stood the test of time, but new books are still in a probationary period with readers. “The ages bear testimony to the validity of their ideas,” Michael Hyatt writes about old books. Ideas and thoughts constantly float through our heads daily, but the best ideas are solidified and executed. There is no test for old novels to pass because the best ones have been passed on by many generations.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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