• Adam Tarnow

My other friends

Updated: Jan 9, 2021

I owe a debt of gratitude to the late great Michael Crichton. It was the summer of 1992. In between shifts in the lifeguard chair, I picked up the paperback version of his novel Jurassic Park. Once I started, I couldn’t put it down.

Up until that summer afternoon, I was not a reader. My relationship with reading was similar to my relationship with tuna noodle casserole. Avoid at all costs, but partake in every once in a while to impress your mom.

Jurassic Park changed me. After I finished that book, I tore through The Firm, The Pelican Brief, and A Time to Kill, to name a few. I suddenly understood what people meant when they said, “Yeah, I liked the movie, but the book was better.”

During the summer of 1992, I became a reader. It’s been one of the richest and most meaningful parts of my life ever since.

Aesop famously said, “A man is known by the company he keeps.” The “company you keep” includes your peer relationships. However, this also consists of the authors you allow to invade your mind. Right, wrong, or indifferent, I am who I am today because of my friends and the books I’ve read. You are too.

Years ago, I thought it would be fun to write down every book I have ever read. I did this for two reasons. One, to see if I’ve read as many books as I felt like I’ve read (I hadn’t). Two because I want to determine my personal “top five favorite books.” Jackie thinks I did this because I’m an accountant. I don’t think labels are helpful.

I’ve kept up this listing for over ten years. Every time I’m done reading a book, I place the book on my shelf and log it in my Book Inventory Spreadsheet. As a reminder, I don’t hunt. This is as close as I get to mounting a mammal or a fish on my wall. For a few brief moments, I feel like a man.

I record six pieces of info for each book. The book title, author, publication date, the year I read the book, and a general category for each book. I also rate each book on a scale of one-to-five.

This spreadsheet is a summary of the “company I keep.” It’s like LinkedIn for my other friends. The fantastic authors who have helped shape my life.

My encouragement today is simple: expand your network. Yes, COVID has taken away our opportunities to network in person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t network. It’s never been easier to expand the “company you keep.” Audiobooks, Amazon Prime, e-readers, and Half-Price Books allow us to meet new people easily.

Take advantage of these resources. Make some new friends. Read a book!

Grateful for Michael Crichton,

P.S. This feels vulnerable, but you can view it here if you want to see my Book Inventory Spreadsheet.

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