Further Reading

A system for remembering what you read

Understand the psychology behind reading

Believe it or not, there’s a lot more than reading going on in our minds as we read. For instance, have you ever struggled to get through a mediocre book, but forced yourself to finish it? This could be the sunk-cost fallacy cognitive bias in action. (This is the same effect that prevents us from selling a stock until it returns to the level at which we bought it.) O’Shaughnessy describes it succinctly: “I stop a good chunk of books between 5-100 pages in. Never keep going if a book sucks. Most books are bad.”

Another cognitive bias is herding and Ravikant cautions against falling for it, i.e. reading for social approval. “If you want social approval, definitely go read what the herd is reading. It takes a level of contrarianism in saying, ‘Nope. I’m just going to do my own thing.’”

In my own professional circle, business reading often involves sticking exclusively to non-fiction. You’ll notice this tendency in Bill Gates’ annual reading list. Of the 15 books he’s recommended over the last three years, only one was fiction (The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal). But reading fiction is known to develop empathy and release stress. And then there’s science fiction, a favorite genre of many entrepreneurs including Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, and Reid Hoffman (collectively, the Paypal Mafia). Novelist and strategist Eliot Peper writes that science-fiction books like Snow Crash, Foundation, and Dune “reframe our perspective of the world” and “create the space to challenge our assumptions.”

Further Reading

The surprising power of reading fiction

So grab those old iPads and start writing in those margins. The 1,300 words in this article represent 0.005% of War and Peace, so it’s time to get started!

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