From the desk of Willie Delwiche.
My colleague Sean shared a quote on Twitter recently about reading books and the discipline of not necessarily finishing one just because you started it.
There is a tension there. Working through a challenging read can be great. Trying to get through a book that isn’t worth your time or is inaccessible to you is not a virtue. Discerning when to persist and when to give in is a skill.
I look at this situation through a slightly different lens. A book worth finishing is worth multiple reads. For me, this means going over it enough that I can remember, access, and share the perspective. Too often we treat books as trophies on a shelf. Owning a book doesn’t mean we have ownership of what the book says. If we are not going to take ownership of the content, why own the book?
We don’t want to clutter up our charts with meaningless indicators, so why would we clutter up our shelves with books that are outside our grasp?
We can think about it from a gardening perspective as well. We prune branches that are not productive or are in the way. Sometimes, we need to be aggressive. Other times, we must be gentle. But this allows for better growth and production.
We can take the same approach with our libraries (of books as well as market indicators).
A few ideas:
- Take off your shelf any of the books you have not read, have not finished, or have no intention of ever picking up again.
- Keep handy the titles you have re-read, that you pull off the shelf periodically for reference, and that you are waiting to be able to share with someone else.
- Alternate reading a new book with re-reading an old one. Personally, if I have a sense that it might be a book I will only read once, I’ll get it on my Kindle. If I’m going to read it multiple times, get a paper copy.
- Read actively, with a pencil or pen in hand. Underline or star key phrases and jot notes in the margin. Make it yours — own the content. I learned to do this in high school and have been doing it ever since.
Finally, don’t be too eager to read a book and put it away. I’ve just started a book called “The Art of Loading Brush” by Wendell Berry. It’s a demanding read, so I’m taking it slow and discussing it with a group of friends. I’m curious to see where it leads me…
What are you reading this summer that’s worth talking about?