Wealth Advisor Resources

Feel Better About Those Books You Never Get Around To Reading

Michael Brohawn CFP®, CLU®, CAP®
Your Life Insurance Solutions

Oct 1, 2020

Are you like me? You can’t pass up the urge to buy a new book but never seem to find the time to read them all? Are unread books stacking up on your bedside table or office desk? Relax, there are those who believe your book buying is a “badge of honor.” (1)

Why?

The assumption is that it means you are an avid reader, but you purchase more books than you can consume. Reading is a necessity for lifetime learning – for keeping your edge and for getting ahead in a competitive world. According to an article in Inc Magazine, the brightest among us read daily. Elon Musk, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Mark Zuckerberg set daily reading time aside. Reading positively affects our business and finances, much like exercise and good eating habits positively impact our health. “The long-term effects of not learning are just as insidious as the long-term effects of not having a healthy lifestyle,” according to one CEO. (2)

Having a plethora of unread books can be a positive sign. In his book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes about the writer, Umberto Eco, who had a personal library of 30,000 books. When visitors first viewed his library, there were two responses. Most were astonished at its size and asked how many he had actually read. But a minority he saw as the enlightened, understood that the library was a research tool – read books being far less valuable than unread books. According to Taleb, your library, your unread books, “should contain as much of what you do not know” as you can afford. “You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older”…“the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books.” (3) Your stack of books – read and unread – will grow as your knowledge grows. And the pile of unread books has value: it represents knowledge to come.

Keep reading and keep buying books, even if they begin to pile up. Your search for knowledge – even if it outpaces your available time – is a positive influence on your life.

1. Why You Should Surround Yourself With More Books Than You’ll Ever Have Time to Read, Jessica Stillman, Inc.com., December 5, 2017

2. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Oprah Winfrey All Use the 5-Hour Rule, Inc.com, https://www.inc.com/empact/bill-gates-warren-buffett-and-oprah-all-use-the-5-hour-rule.html

3. Umberto Eco’s Antilibrary: Why Undread Books Are More Valuable to our Lives than Read Ones, Maria Popova, brainpickings.org, https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/03/24/umberto-eco-antilibrary/

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