Sooo... What Are You Reading?

Lt. Col. Todd McNeal

Lt. Col. Todd McNeal

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- "There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them." - Ray Bradbury

I'm a book nerd.

There... I said it.

I've always enjoyed a good book and many times perhaps made some questionable decisions about the times that I've chosen to read books (My wife claims I read six books during our honeymoon...in my defense it was while we were traveling on airplanes or in taxis, but probably not the most stellar way to impress my lovely bride.) Reading is a key component of my life. I use reading to increase and further my personal learning as well as to occasionally take a mental break and relax.

I would contend that reading is a fundamental requirement of every Airman. And I am not referring solely to the ability to read or requirements to read (all of us have to stay up to date on our Technical Orders and the myriad of Air Force Instructions that we're responsible for), but rather the fun, expand your brain, learn something new requirement to read. In our digital age, the opportunity for reading is vast. Daily a new blog is created. E-books are a dime-a-dozen. Most libraries have an electronic checkout capability. Newsworthy articles are continuously presented on a wide variety of news and blog websites. The bottom line is there aren't many valid reasons why an Airman can't be actively reading on a daily basis.

A number of months ago, I posed the "What are you reading" question to a number of my company grade officers and the responses I received were incredible. (BLUF: I'm spoiled! I've got some bright CGOs!) I was encouraged that the majority of them were actively reading something. Many were along the lines of current events, some were off of the Chief's Reading List, but there was no single focus area; all were reading a wide range of books. This may seem trivial, but as a book nerd, I was excited to see this response. Additionally, I asked each to provide a brief summary of the book to share amongst their fellow CGOs. The purpose of this was two-fold: one, by the CGOs providing a summary to their fellow Airmen, the lessons from the book would take greater root and two, it helps to spread the knowledge and experience amongst the entire force.My primary challenge to all Airmen is to go read a book. Pick up an old favorite; read to your kids as you tuck them into bed; read that book you were assigned in English 101 (but you opted for the Cliff Notes instead); use the Kindle or Overdrive app to check out a book from the library; read an opposing point of view; learn about a new culture; challenge yourself to complete Tolstoy's War and Peace or Hugo's Les Miserables (they're both challenging, but very good reads); read a technical or news magazine. Fiction. Non-Fiction. It doesn't matter. Go read...something. Then once you finish the book, share the story with another Airman.

So... what are you reading?

"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them." - Ray Bradbury.