I’m often asked how I read so much and how I choose books. So, my I’ll try my first tweet storm
1/ I love @naval ‘s idea to ask yourself: what that you do looks like hard work from the outside, but doesn’t feel like work to you.
2/ For me, one answer is reading. In most down time, I read. Probably 3 hours a day, in 2-3 chunks. Sometimes much more.
3/ (I’m sure there is something similar that each of you do that would blow the rest of us away. I suggest amplifying that thing in your life)
4/ Reading is meditative and calming. It is a way of being in the moment & connecting.
5/ Reading changes the past. This is important. The past isn’t fixed. A new book often makes you realize something essential about an old book.
6/ This is why knowledge compounds. Old stuff that was a 4/10 in value can become a 10/10, unlocked by another book in the future.
7/ Metaphors We Live By unlocked Julian Jaynes. The Act of Creation (Koestler) unlocked Zero to One. Krishnamurti unlocked everything…
8/ But it took five other books to prepare me for Krishnamurti.
9/ This is why picking “best” books is hard and maybe misguided. Usually, it’s some combination of books that has a non-linear impact.
10/ Accordingly, while many books I suggest seem unrelated to one another, they are all related.
11/ When you start out reading, you are collecting distant dots in a constellation with no apparent connection
12/ As you keep going, say past 100 books, you start to realize all the good ones, even those on wildly different topics, are connected.
13/ Just as Joseph Campbell discovered a common cycle in the world’s myths through history, I’ve found several common threads in the great books.
14/ Growth. Evolution. Human behavior. Emotion. Circles. Ego (destruction). Authenticity. Iconoclasm.
15/ These major threads are then just aspects of the single topic: what it means, and what it is like to be human.
16/ In most books, even good ones, I find about 20% of the text useful. Because the past isn’t fixed, I still view this as time well spent.
17/ In a small subset of books, the author doesn’t give you ore, he/she gives you gold. Impro. The True Believer. The Tiger. Shadow Divers. Bird by Bird.
18/ I used to spend a lot of time searching for books. In the library, on Goodreads, Amazon, and reading lists. Now I exploit a network effect.
19/ I’m known for recommending books, so now everyone recommends books back to me! Most of what I read comes from the 8k people in the book club.
20/ As the club (https://investorfieldguide.com/bookclub/) has grown, I spend less and less time finding books.
21/ Campbell: “If what you are following is your own true adventure, if it is something appropriate to your deep spiritual need or readiness…
22/ “…then magical guides will appear to help you” That has been true for me with reading.
23/ Ten years in, I now have an incomplete but dense set of interconnected dots. It is my most valuable asset.
24/ Beyond being an asset–“a stock” or sorts–it is also a “flow.” I hear runners talk about a bliss or flow state. I feel the same reading some books.
25/ Reading gets more and more enjoyable the more you do it. So here is 60 pages worth of reco’s: https://investorfieldguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Full-Reading-List.pdf
26/ 82 books may sound like work, but I don’t even feel it. That kind of joy is an EDGE. Yours may not be reading, but you have one somewhere.
27/ Get going.
28/ Extra stuff from here on, taking notes, stopping and skipping, gifting books, etc.
29/ NOTES: I highlight and write notes in kindle, and then export each book’s notes/highlights into Evernote.
30/ I prefer physical books, but because I have to type up 100+ notes, I can’t justify reading that way unless kindle version isn’t available.
31/ I probably highlight 50-100 things in each book, and take a more detailed note on 10-20. Most notes are about building out the constellation.
32/ Notes are essential. Without them, I’d forget almost everything. Sometimes I’ll just root around in my Evernote book section for hours.
33/ I may start buying hard copies of the best books, so I can see them more often.
34/ STOPPING & SKIPPING: I stop a good chunk of books between 5-100 pages in. Never keep going if a book sucks. Most books are bad.
35/ I skip a lot in non-fiction. If a paragraph’s opening sentence seems repetitive, I move to the next. The “body” of most books is way too long.
36/ Campbell had a great rule of thumb: the fewer citations, the better the book. This isn’t always true, but it’s true an awful lot.
37/ I am increasingly tired of books which follow the “academic study + cute anecdote” formula
38/ Books that use “proprietary data” are best. That data could be experience, conversations, actual data that isn’t publicly accessible like @christianrudder book.
39/ This is good advice for writers too. I’ve tried very hard to stop citing others.
40/ GIFTING. I’ve just started sending people books through Amazon. I think reading needs to be your own journey, so I do it sparingly.
41/ I also read one book at a time. If I find myself reading a second, that means I should quit the first. So I do.
42/ Ok, done! Let me know if you have other questions. Happy to explore it more.