Let’s All Read Less And Learn Faster

Did you know that in the last 10 seconds there has been more written and published online than in all of the rest of mankind’s recorded history?

No? Fair enough, I just made that up.

Yet there is a similar, less preposterous statistic out there which we’ve all read at some time or other. I cannot be bothered to Google the accurate version out of contempt. I mean, there would be no such statistic if the words ‘original material’ were to be inserted into the sentence, would there?

I do a fair bit of book reading over the course of a year. How about you?

If I think back to my late teens it tended to be a conscious attempt to self-educate; to try to bridge what I saw as an education gap and to become a little more literate. To that end I read quite a few classics and at one time I even inflicted War And Peace on myself. It’s about some Russians, you know?

As I got older; convinced that my reading age was not going to get any higher, I transferred my book buying allegiance over to non-fiction. This time it was less about being more literate and more about being less ignorant. In this respect I think that the high-water mark was a book entitled The History Of The World. It began in Africa’s East Rift valley and for me ended when I got fed up with Hittites smiting the Canaanites on a very long and tedious timeline. Or was that the bible I was reading?

You can see a pattern, though, can’t you? The theme is aspirational. I tend to buy books not just for my amusement, but to learn as well.

Books For Business

Now, not for the first time, I am currently working within my own business. And like many who follow an entrepreneurial path I am now veering towards reading business books, only. These books often follow a similar format, which covers what the author has learned about business, what he has learned about sales psychology and what he has learned about motivation. Usually these teachings are enumerated into a number of steps which help to form the title of the book and are accompanied by some quotes that have been lifted from some famous quotes website, or other.

By the way, on the subject of quotations, can I request that nobody ever mentions Albert Einstein’s quote about us only using 10% of our brains, ever again. The great man was a physicist, not a neuro-scientist. He was speculating, not stating a fact. His speculation was wrong.

The problem that I have with the majority of business books that I read is that they are (a) regurgitating a lot of what others have already written (not quite plagiarism) and (b) overly long.

More than any other type of reading, I consume business books in order to gain some kind of advantage. I rarely find them riveting, or a really good laugh. When I buy them I am looking for magic bullets, in effect, or more realistically some useful action points to educate and inspire me.

And to be fair, most well reviewed business books do offer these valuable little nuggets, but boy do you have to dig for them!

I understand why authors pad out traditionally published books; it’s because they have to be seen to be delivering value for money, but is that really what is happening? Are consumers really saying to the publishers, ‘Here’s $7. I would like a dollars worth of great information and $6 dollars worth of time wasting’?

What is the alternative to irritatingly long books? Well, a while back a friend and I half considered creating a website on which people could post executive summaries of well known books. At the time Booktrimmer.com was an available domain name, whilst cutthecrap.com was already registered. In any event, it turns out it has already been done. Just do a Google search for ‘book summaries’.

Here is an executive summary that might have appeared on my site:

The History Of The World – Man came out of the trees in East Africa. He was a hunter gatherer. He invented farming, which made city states possible. He realised that taking another city state by force could be profitable. This is called ‘empire building’. He does this for the next 10,000 years, inventing ever more clever tools as he goes.

OK, as précis’s go that is a bit brief and tongue-in-cheek flippant, but you get my point.

So, do you long for authors to cut to the chase? Would you sometimes rather have somebody else read the book for you and tell you what it’s about? Do you agree with Daniel Priestley who in his book Entrepreneur Revolution said that it’s ‘time to stop reading books and write your own’?

Oh! And lastly, do you have any book summaries that you would like to share? In all seriousness I would like to receive them.