My Philosophy of Reading

Ever since we were children, we were taught that “reading is good”. Also, that there were “good books” and “bad books”.

But very rarely do we ask: “What’s the purpose of reading?”

My thoughts on the purpose of reading:

Reading to spark new ideas

To me, reading is like an echo chamber for your own thoughts and thinking. When I read an author I like, it is generally because I see a bit of myself in them. For example the connection I feel with Seneca, Nassim Taleb, Nieztsche, or even in the raps of Kanye or Jay Z.

Poetry as reading

People also forget that reading involves reading poetry; not just literature. In fact I generally prefer reading poetry, philosophy, aphorisms, or obscure thoughts (pre socratic thinkers like Heraclitus) to spark more of my own thoughts and ideas.

Reading isn’t a duty.

The ancient Greeks didn’t read; they were mostly an oral culture. Their stories involved memorization, rhythm, and “flow”. Perhaps Homer was the original rapper.

Why do we like song and rhythm? Nieztsche postulates that the more something rhymes, the more true it sounds. Also, when poets were able to harness rhythm and flow, they almost sounded godlike.

Be very picky with what you read

If I read something and the first few pages doesn’t captivate me, I put it down. The only books I remember or which have impacted my life were personally interesting to me:

  • Almost all books by Nassim Taleb (Black swan, fooled by randomness, Antifragile, Bed of Procrutes, Skin in the game)
  • Almost everything by Seneca (On the shortness of life, On Benefits, Letters from a stoic epistles, On Leisure/Tranquility)
  • Fragments by Heraclitus
  • Aphorisms by Publilius Syrus
  • Books by Nieztsche (Will to power, Antichrist, Beyond good and evil, The genealogy of morals, Twilight of the idols, The joyful wisdom)
  • Iliad by Homer/Odyssey
  • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Generally I like old school classic texts. Also, a tip from Nassim Taleb:

You only really know how much you like a book based on how many times you have re-read it.

Also, reading a text (you like) twice probably will give you 10x benefit than reading lots of mediocre texts.

Conclusion: Don’t read boring books

My thought: only boring books are bad. And everyone will have a different definition of what is “boring” to them.

All books are subjective; simply continue to search and discover what you like.