the way you read books

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Michael Simmons suggests that the way you read books says a lot about your intelligence:

If you love to read as much as I do, walking into a bookstore as an adult feels exactly like walking into a candy store as a kid.

The shelves are lined with the wisdom of humanity, insights that each author has spent years refining. It's all right there at your fingertips, condensed into a format that you can curl up with. [...] And the books pile up. On your shelves. In your bedroom. In your car. Maybe even your bathroom.

I've always thought that every room should have books in it, and Simmons agrees. He maintains that this is a good thing, as "unread books strewn across the house might actually be a sign of intelligence rather than the lack of it:"

Not only is having tons of unfinished books around a sign of smarts, it also puts you in great company. I finally let go of my own guilt when I did a deep dive into the reading habits of luminary entrepreneurs and informally surveyed my most successful friends. Most of them only read 20 to 40 percent of the books they purchase. Many of them were reading over 10 books at once.

"I spent two hours touring through two of Princeton University's six libraries," he writes:

On the one hand, it was inspiring to see everything I could learn. On the other hand, it was extremely humbling. It helped me see how little I currently know, and it helped me see that even if I spent my whole life just reading, I would still only know a fraction of knowledge out there.

Creating an anti-library by surrounding ourselves with unread books in your home can evoke a similar feeling. Bestselling author and successful investor Nassim Taleb describes the value of an anti-library brilliantly in his book, The Black Swan:

A private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight real-estate market allows you to put there. You'll accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary.

"Whereas book hoarders judge themselves by the number of books they own," writes Simmons, "smart readers judge themselves by what they get out of them." This is good advice, as are his reading hacks--but it doesn't necessarily speak to intelligence as much as (perhaps) an abundance of interests and a shortage of time. I'd be interested in seeing an actual study on this issue.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on June 24, 2018 7:57 PM.

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