If you want to improve your writing skills – read something, if you want to improve even more – read something outside of you normal comfort zone.

I was able to secure a wide range of reading material at the discount bin of a large book store recently that will keep me busy through the summer. I found a book that dealt with modern hoboing: from the skill of jumping on and off a moving train to how to use the internet at libraries and how to behave in the modern hobo jungle. Are they skills I will ever need? I don’t think so, but it was an interesting read and broadens the mind just a bit. It also gave me some ideas about format for a book I have not yet written.

The bargain bin also yielded a volume on cults; I am saving that for airline travel. I find those kind of books cut down on the conversation from pesky chatty Cathies in the next seat.

One of particular interest, that has already made its way to a friend, lists the 50 greatest wrong predictions of the future. Things like the failure of the telephone, and picking the wrong side to win a world war and betting heavy on it.  

I scored a couple more, all in the $5.00 range, so for about 40 bucks I have a summer’s worth of reading, some great material to loan friends (and not get upset when they don’t return them), and the equivalent of a do not disturb sign for when I travel. Not a bad purchase I think.

Aside from the strange looks I got when I paid for my purchase, only good can come from the experience. I will be learning a lot of things about a lot of things I didn’t know before and be exposed to a variety of writing styles that may or may not influence what I do the next time I sit down to pen a piece.

Equally as valuable as the information I gain, is the styles I do or don’t like. I can learn things that I don’t want to do in a book. I saw a volume that was printed in blue ink, and I could not believe how difficult it was to read. Lesson learned: Don’t print your book in blue ink, especially if your audience wears bifocals.