Don't Read Books
No, I really don't think we should read books nor feel bad for not reading them. And now talk about those non-fiction books with the knowledge that readers want to use in their lives.
Do you still think this is sarcasm? Keep on reading.
Don't worry, it's not illegal to read books yet...
I've read 256 Bloghacks, Steal Like an Artist, Deep Work, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Selling is Human and Life 3.0 during last 2 years and a couple more I haven't written about yet.
I mostly love books.
I just don't think it's the best-written format to learn from and that such format can actually hurt learning. It's not the author, the topic, but really the historical format to blame.
When you read a book, you absorb information without much critical thinking. There is no space to express disagreement, to pose a question, to clarify, to add a tip of your own. So we get used to just read, be silent and absorb. Can you recall any other situation on your life, where you absorb information without a doubt? I can't.
I'm known to be a minimalist so my bookshelf bears only 5 books, while all my other friends have 20-30 books. I always wondered "do they read so fast, wow they're smart"? So I was curious:
- "Which are your favorite books?"
- "What do you read now?"
- "Well, how many have you read actually?"
The answers vary a bit, but the last question usually hits the nail on the head. It's barely a 1/4 on average.
Then I realized that "bestseller" has nothing to do with the content. It's like having a cool free application in your phone that you never use or famous "friend" on Facebook you never write but anyone can see you're "friends".
Hype beats knowledge, at least at the time being. It's less important the how book really is valuable to the reader than how cool it is, how nice cover it has, how many of my friends and celebrities recommend it.
I personally know many technical books from Czech authors that people bought, but never read. Which makes me sad for both sides, the reader and the author, and also for the trees that will now lie dead on a shelf made from another tree.
Imagine this post would have 20 pages. I would go on detail, start to talk about my day and how everyday life is connected to reading books and what I read in my childhood and formed me to who I am... blah blah blah.
It's called state of flow and you can see it very clearly when somebody gives a talk that lasts 30+ minutes. It's not a rule, but the easiest way to spot it in the public.
Why? Because flow makes people happy and they thoroughly focus on the present, hours seem to pass by the minute.
"Give me a man a week to finish a 4-hour work – he'll finish it in a week.
Give him 4 hours to finish a week work – he'll finish it in 4 hours."
One example for all: have you ever read my bachelor thesis about polyphasic sleep that has 50+ pages? Me neither, so I made a short post.
The book format is great for stories. There is a beginning, plot... well, the classic Hero's Journey.
It works for stories, but what about skills and know-how? Let's say you have a new job and you want to learn a new framework - Symfony. Do you buy "a Symfony book" and read it? And then you know Symfony? You might and you'll be feeling great about it.
"It's interesting how the brain works when you have no clue."
But what do so much of random education (it has its meaning, but not here) if your first task is to create a contact form? Maybe there are posts about writing forms that go beyond the documentation that take you 20 minutes to read.
Having a whole book would probably confuse you and make you feel great at the same time.
Like menstruation, the cycle of life is very similar to the cycle of knowledge - or to a paradigm if you prefer.
Think of PHP application you work on right now. You start fresh and with PHP 7.2, with the newest version of Symfony 4.1 and all goes great. Do you think that in 3 years you'll be using PHP 8.0 and Symfony 5.0 or rather stick to the old ones? And what about in next 3 years?
I'd pick first because the trend is they're faster, easier to learn and more intuitive to use.
Using old one (for whatever business reasons) is called vendor lock or legacy code.
Same vendor lock happens to knowledge. You can see it the most in school systems, where 40-year-old people teach 15-year-olds their "up-to-date" know-how. People write PHP 7 as PHP 5.3 because there are so many old books out there about PHP 5.3.
Imagine that Wikipedia would be published just once 10 years as a book. So today, in 2018, somebody would quote a 8-year-old information in his school essay. It's crazy, right? But that's how books work naturally.
Yet, is there a better way to share inter-connected deep knowledge than in books that would be longer a single standalone post?
We'll explore few ideas in the following post.
Happy reading and let me know in the comments what you think about all this.