There are four types of non-fiction books in the world.

1. The books you buy but don’t read.

2. The books you read but don’t finish.

3. The books you finish but don’t engage with.

4. The books you engage with.

Most people are like me. They have shelves full of books they buy but don’t read and books they read but don’t finish. A lot of people actually finish reading books but they never engage with them. Why? Because the scale of difficulty increases as you go down the list.

It’s easy to buy a book. You can do that on Amazon with one click or a trip to the library.

It’s a little more difficult to actually read part of a book but it’s not that hard.

It’s harder to finish a book than it is to start one. That takes dedication and time allocation and effort.

The last category, books you engage with? That’s the hardest of all, because in order to engage with a book you actually have to change some part of your life.

It’s one thing to read a book about changing bad habits, it’s another thing entirely to quit biting your nails. It’s one thing to read a book about blogging, it’s another thing to actually blog. It’s one thing to have an author tell you that there are deliberate things you can do right this second to improve your relationships, it’s another thing to actually pick up the phone and call someone.

The other thing that makes it difficult to actually engage with a book is that you don’t get to speed through life change. Engaging with a book takes longer than just reading a book. I could read 30 books this year, but I can’t engage with 30. That takes time and effort and commitment.

So what’s the pay off?

Why do the effort? Why work hard? Why take the time?

Because your life is worth it.

Because when you engage with a book you’re never the same again.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield changed the way I looked at the world.

The Dip by Seth Godin is the reason I didn’t quit my first blog.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott taught me I could be a writer.

The pantheon of books I’ve engaged with is small, but it’s special. That shelf is not full, but the impact of it is greater than the hundreds of other books I’ve just read.

This year, I wrote a new book that focuses on moving you from reading to doing. That’s the chasm most people never jump over when it comes to books. Whether you read it or not though, I encourage you that if you want to change your life in 2015, put in the work.

Read great books, but when you do, take great notes.

Read great books, but when you do, ask them great questions.

Read great books, but when you do, change something about your day.

Don’t fill your shelves with great books while leaving your heart empty.

What’s a great book that you engaged with?