When you choose your own sources of input, you can choose things that you really care about. Instead of reading some random article in your English textbook, you can read a Harry Potter book, an e-mail message from a friend, an Internet forum with relationship advice, or perhaps news about your favorite football club. Instead of listening to a boring recording in class, you can watch your favorite TV series or a video podcast about computer technology.
by Tomasz P. Szynalski  Antimoon:  How to Learn English Effectively

You are traveling along with me on my long and strange trip to Japanese literacy and fluency.   Why am I reading and sharing Japanese self-help books.  Have I proven that they have the most powerful successful secrets to change your or my life?  No, sir!  So why am I reading them?

Amazing bookstore in Argentina. I would love to go there some day. Reading is fun de mental.

Because they are fun and addictive.  If I’ve learned anything from All Japanese All the Time (AJATT), it is the key element of fun.   I could flagellate myself with books and materials that aren’t any fun, but why should I?  It’s a waste of time and life, and more importantly it’s less effective.

AJATT got a lot of its inspiration from Antimoon, a website devoted to helping people learn English through immersion and repetition instead of English classes.    Antimoon highlights the benefits of fun:

  • If your input is fun, you get it much more willingly and spend more time on it. In fact, once you get a taste of all the amazing content you can get in English, it may be difficult to tear yourself away!
  • Fun leads to stronger memories. When you see or hear something that matters to you, you can remember much more. For example, if you’re reading some article that your teacher gave you, you usually want to read it quickly and be done with it. But suppose you’re reading the lyrics of a new song by your favorite band. You are much more likely to repeat them to yourself and keep them in your memory — together with all the grammar and vocabulary!

That’s why my new motto as far as books is concerned is “Love ‘Em or Leave Em:  Fun with Benefits.”   I haven’t abandoned the “difficult” goal of learning Japanese, but I am tacking and trying different methods.   There is something to be said about working through a difficult text. (Insert thought here: _____________________________________)   But what if fun books are the back door way to be able to access more difficult books in the future.?  As Khatz says, “Fun gets done.”

I’m doing this with non-Japanese books.   I checked out Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins:  The Paradox of Innovation by Richard Farson and Ralph Keyes because it was cited in something I read recently.  It’s a good book and the message is great, but not the book that was pulling at me.    I’ve been on a Steve Chandler kick and saw that he has a book called Time Warrior:  How to Defeat procrastination, people-pleasing, self-doubt, over-commitment, broken promises and chaos.  I’m checking it out on my phone and playing around with the Kindle app.  (BTW the cover is graced by a katana wielding samurai!)

I generally enjoy only five minutes of non-work, non-Japanese reading a day so I need to to make these books count.  I’ll leave you with a little paragraph from Time Warrior:

Create projects and small adventures that lead you to the grand vision you want.  None of this has to be experienced as pressure.  The great quarterback Fran Tarkenton used to say, “If it’s not fun you’re not doing it right.”

Love ’em or leave ’em.  Fun with benefits. Yeah. Samurai Time Warrior.