Not what you read, what you reread; 3 books worth that second look

James Dietle
Sep 1, 2018 · 3 min read

I am a voracious reader and especially now due to the abundance of audio files. It is so much easier to sneak in 5 minutes with an audiobook while running an errand, doing chores, or waiting for a conference call. It has become so easy, that I was quickly purchasing more and more highly recommended audiobooks. However, I have been starting to discover that not all books are created equal, and only a few of them should be around for the reread.

On a recent business trip, I discovered 10 minutes after takeoff that I only had some old books loaded up on my phone. Although disappointed, I scrolled through my archived books and found a short one I enjoyed previously. I was resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t have any “new” learning possibilities on this trip.

About an hour into the trip I was taking more implementable things from this reread than my last two books combined. I found real gems in some of the items I forgot from my first reading. It was as if I have been gorging myself on new things trying desperately to find something I liked, and once I found it, I never tried it again. It was as if I was content to say that once complete an experience never needs to be revisited.

My old book attitude seems a little ridiculous in hindsight (also expensive). It would be akin to going to the grand canyon only once or never going back to my favorite restaurants. I don’t treat food this way, why should I similarly treat books.

During my re-reads, I was able to slow down. Rethink some advice and reflect on my attempts to implement changes. Sorting out what techniques worked in my position, with my leadership style, and in my environment. Something I read a year ago was very different given my projects and experience yesterday.

It that spirit, here are three books I think are worth the re-read:

  1. Rework by David Hansson and Jason Fried: Great discussion about only doing the things that are important, cutting out meetings and BS, and getting down to the brass tacks of work that matters done.
  2. Phoenix Project by Gene Kim: Walks through a story discussing how to treat IT infrastructure more like a factory to eliminate chokepoints, manage the craziness that is corporate work, and get the critical project finished on time while not losing everything else along the way.
  3. Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein: Much better than the movie. Sci-fi is great because they can bring up situations in hyperbole so that you can dissect them better. Although very dated, Starship Troopers is the kind of book to discuss some unusual circumstances in a quick read.

More than anything, I find it a bit humbling to reflect on my tries in some lessons. To try something and notice I didn’t fully commit and later lost the essence of its expected impact. A think a fast read through a book can let you know if its worth a reread, but you should also be rereading the “good stuff” constantly.

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