“A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge. That is why i read so much.” -Tyrion Lannister
In a classic exchange between Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister, Tyrion describes why he reads so much. One of my largest regrets in 2015 was not reading enough. It always seemed like when I was in the middle of the book, I would pick my head up and say this could have been written in 1/10 of the pages. I just wanted a condensed version of the main points because I wasn’t reading the book for the purpose of learning “style” or “persuasion tactics” like I would when reading a New Yorker or NYTimes/National Review op-ed.
The Dilemma with Reading Books I Should Read
I was reading the book for 3-5 key insights that would likely inform a decision in the future. You know the type of books. The pseudo-psychology/leadership books that distill 3-5 main points into a long, well-written narrative that gets people regurgitating the book’s anecdotes in coffee shops. I’ve been the receiver and teller numerous times of those anecdotes — Freakonomics was my favorite back in the day. But the process to read each of these books seemed so inefficient. I had to purchase the book, pierce through the fun yet time-consuming smoke and mirrors, and distill their major points.
That level of inefficiency mapped with the opportunity cost of not reading what really inspired me left little time to read them. However, I still wanted to read them because they do have some interesting thoughts from smart people.
Lastly, I don’t want to spend the majority of my time reading what everyone else is reading for four reasons. 1) If we all read the same thing, there is a greater chance we’ll approach the problem in the same way. 2) the pseudo-psychology/leadership books don’t leave me inspired. They leave me feeling like I need to purchase the author’s next book 3) the best art and writing are not in those books 4) and most importantly, it isn’t the first shelf I go to when I enter Barnes + Noble or search on Amazon.
Now I use Blinkist (referral code). I love it. They have read all the popular books I should read and pierced through the golden nuggets so I can get the most important points in a fraction of the time.
With Blinkist, they promote you can get the main points within 15 minutes. In 2016, I’m planning to average 1.5 a day. In total, I’ll review 548 books that I want to read but wouldn’t likely get to without Blinkist.
Of course I’ll miss out on key points or dive deeper on a book I find interesting, but overall I predict this is the best use of time to gain a broad level of knowledge while still reading around my individual interests.
More Time to Read What Truly Inspires and Educates
My favorite items to read are non-fiction, historical examples of greatness. Examples include The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln: A Life, or the countless examples of great thinking and writing that are better than almost anything written today.
These will be my weekend readings because it requires much more focused thought, attention to detail and study of the author’s craft.
2016 will be the year I’m reading more of everything.