3 Types of Books that Make You Smarter
Reading is good, it makes you smarter, everyone knows it, right? No, it is not. It’s just happened that ‘everyone’ is wrong again.
People tend to simplify things, and there is a sound reason for that — it is much easier to live if everything around you is categorised and labelled. This is good. This is healthy.
This is black. This is white.
However, the world is rarely a place where everything can be categorised. The same with reading — the process itself is nothing more than a way of consuming information. Listening, for example, is another one, and no one would say that ‘listening is good on its own, it makes you smarter’. Everything is about which type of information you consume through listening. Or through reading.
Hence our topic.
There is A LOT of different books. In no way you can read even top New York Times bestsellers, because probably no one can read more than a hundred books per month.
Want some numbers? Mark Zuckerberg earlier this year committed to reading a book each two weeks, and it equals to 26 books a year. Let us pretend that you are even more active and less busy than Mark and can read 30 or 40 books a year. Now remember that each year more than 500,000 books are published in English only. Which means that if you want to spend your time wisely, than
→ picking the right book for reading is never a question of taste. ←
You just have no time for that.
Luckily, there are 3 types of books that will definitely make you smarter and better. If you read them.
When they asked Elon Musk about books he liked he instantly named several biographies. If you are not impressed with Elon’s opinion (what kind of person are you then?!), here is a list of benefits you get while reading biographies of interesting people.
- Biographies help you learn from other people’s mistakes. It is almost the same as reading about tough choices a character makes. With a difference: that character was a real person, all situations took place in our real world. And everything that happened to the character could happen to you in one way or another.
- Every person is unique, dealing with unique set of problems and getting into unique situations. Surely it relates to people about whom books are being written. Unlike different fiction bestsellers with stories similar to each other, knowledge you get reading a biography is unique and impossible to be discovered anywhere else.
- Biographies help you understand cause and effect relationships that rule in our world. Sometimes people think that what eventually happens to them is completely random and unpredictable. But in fact, the world operates according to certain laws, which may sometimes seem to be counter-intuitive and difficult to grasp. Biographies let you learn these laws and, therefore, get a great advantage over others.
Several biography books you won’t be disappointed with (clickable):
Science fiction & fantasy
While most of you probably agreed on the first point, now you may be surprised. Fiction, and, most of all, fantasy and sci-fi? There are a lot of people considering this type of books are made for little children and incurable geeks. No problem. I will be happy to convince you otherwise.
Just one thing I’d like to mention: there are a lot of sh#tty books that claim to be sci-fi or fantasy. Sure there are a lot of bad books in different genres as well, it is just sh#tty sci-fi and fantasy books are the most well-known. It is true for movies also, by the way. Here we are talking only about good books.
- Sci-fi poses the most important questions for all the humanity. People are often scared of them. What kind of future awaits us? Are we important for the Universe? Does it really make sense to do what we do, in greater perspective?
- We can glance at people’s qualities and values from other sides. This is where ‘out of the box’ thinking starts, by the way. Sci-fi & fantasy helps us let common society values go and be on our own when observing the world. Which leads us to understanding the real value of things.
- Sci-fi boosts your erudition level. Many things were first introduced in sci-fi and only then invented. To name a few: submarines and tanks (Jules Verne and Herbert Wells correspondingly), credit cards (Edward Bellamy), internet (William Gibson), antidepressant drugs (Aldous Huxley) and many others. This means that when reading sci-fi you are not only acquiring precious knowledge on math, physics, astronomy and information technologies, but also get some understanding about how the world is going to look like in future.
Here are several recommendations from myself:
Books on communication and networking skills
Books from this category are dedicated to the mastery of speaking to different people, public speaking, persuading and being likeable.
Perhaps you would say that you don’t become smarter just by reading such books, and it is true.
Here is a thing: people possess with the most precious knowledge in the world. Books are good, but they are nothing compared to people. Folklore — tradition of transferring knowledge from one person to others — is much older than books, hence more powerful. But in order to get access to this kind of knowledge you should know how to get along with different people, how to talk to them and how to be the one they would like to deal with.
For that you need books dedicated to networking, public speaking and developing a set of communicative skills.
From my point of view this reason is enough for these books to be included in our top 3 list.
Classic examples would be:
To draw the conclusion I would like to quote King Solomon, one of the wisest men ever lived:
“Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.”
Be critical about what you read and what you spend your precious time for. Pick books that will help you become smarter, know more and be a nice person!
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