A writing piece from Scott P. Scheper.
One American Plaza
Downtown San Diego, CA
Wednesday, 3:26 pm
Today I am going to attempt to share something with you concerning the subject of reading. My primary goal is to not sound trite. My secondary goal is to not lull you to sleep!
Several books exist on the subject of reading better. My favorite has a title so simplistic it's ironic. Its title: How to Read a Book.
Here is one valuable lesson from it:
"The beauty of any work of art is related to the pleasure it gives us when we know it well." (emphasis mine)
You can think of it like this: If given six weeks, it may be wiser to spend it reading one book thoroughly, than multiple books passively.
I say may be wiser because it depends on your natural tendencies, and your preferred style.
Do not confuse well-read with widely-read.
Well-read means you thoroughly and deeply understand something. The result is as if you've imprinted the book on your memory. This is achieved by writing out notes by hand (the hard, slow, and painful way).
Widely-read means you tear through multiple books, spanning many disciplinary fields.
Each type has pro's and con's. Don't try to be both all the time; you'll end up just sucking at both. Adopt the style based on your current goals and natural tendencies.
Both types enjoy phenomenal success.
Warren Buffett spends his time reading the same material. Primarily financial and economic-related. He's an example of well-read.
Buffett's business partner, Charlie Munger, is a different case altogether. Bill Gates once recounted his longest conversation with Munger. It did not consist of financial markets. It did not concern the economy. Nor did it relate to the future, or even philanthropy...
Care to guess what they discussed?
Don't waste your time. Because you're wrong... Unless you guessed... that they discussed mating habits of naked mole rats!
Moral of The Story: Choose a style that fits your natural tendencies, or your goal. Some prefer the well-read route. Others are like Charlie Munger. They prefer a book on Mother Teresa, followed by one on sex lives of naked mole rats (if I am remembered for anything, I hope it's this sentence).
Bottom line: whatever style you choose, just don't half-ass it. Period. End of story.
See you tomorrow.
Scott P. Scheper
Adler, Mortimer Jerome, and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book. Rev. and Updated ed. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972. ↩︎
Munger, Charles T. Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger, Expanded Third Edition. Edited by Peter D. Kaufman. 3rd edition. Walsworth Publishing Company, 2005. ↩︎
Scott P. Scheper