Why Smart People Should Read Fewer Books

And listen to more podcasts.

Nick Wignall
Aug 26, 2019 · 3 min read

Most books are 90% fluff and not worth your time.

Reading is one of the most important and beneficial things anyone at any age or in any context can do. But like any decision in life, you can’t determine the true benefit without considering the downsides, especially opportunity cost.

There’s a lot of crap out there disguised in book form. And it’s surprisingly easy to waste precious time and energy wading through that crap.

Many books these days–especially self-improvement and business-style books–are stuffed with stories and anecdotes that don’t really add much value. And so we end up with 300-page books whose core ideas could have been perfectly well articulated in 30 pages. Or 3.

Why podcast interviews are the ultimate quality filter for your reading.

There are three kinds of books:

  1. Pretty good books. This is at least 90% of the remaining 10% of books out there. They’ve got some good ideas and interesting points, but those few morsels aren’t really worth the 2–5 hours of time and energy it takes most of us to read the entire book.
  2. Great books. This is the 1%, maybe even the 0.1%. This is the precious few books that are not only filled to the brim with genuine wisdom and insight, but the books for whom reading them is itself a beneficial act and always time well-spent.

Be ruthless in your commitment to only reading great books.

Too many smart people waste thousands of hours of precious time and energy reading pretty good books, which are no more than over-priced and inefficient vehicles for communicating ideas.

Do you really have time to read anything but great books?

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Nick Wignall

Written by

Psychologist and blogger. I help people use psychology for meaningful personal growth: https://nickwignall.com

Personal Growth

Sharing our ideas and experiences.

Nick Wignall

Written by

Psychologist and blogger. I help people use psychology for meaningful personal growth: https://nickwignall.com

Personal Growth

Sharing our ideas and experiences.

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