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What I learned from reading 200 books in 15 months

krauserpua
April 14, 2019

I have been on something of a reading binge, having read 136 books in 2018 (and reviewing each and every one of them) and then another 54 books so far in 2019 [1]. I’m averaging better than three books a week and I’ve hoovered up a lot of content. Perhaps it’s a good time to reflect. Here are some observations in no particular order.

1. Abundance allows risk taking

A man who reads only a handful of books a year will be extremely discriminating in what he tries. This will bias him towards authors or topics he’s already familiar with and, depending upon his goals, he may choose 100% entertainment or 100% education. When I was burning through three books a week I felt like the downside of picking a bad book was minimal. No matter how boring it got, so long as I stayed the course for two days I’d be on to the next book. This is not unlike the abundance mentality a player has with girls: if this girl isn’t working out, you can walk away and find another. This freedom to experiment enabled me to try discover different authors and topics, many of which I grew to like.

2. Ideas need time to sink in

On a couple of occasions I read three books in one day [2]. I encountered a bizarre time distortion effect whereupon I’d sink into the world of a book and its characters, only to shut the book and then promptly disappear into the next world. At the end of the day, those first two books felt like weeks in my past. A negative side-effect of fast reading is my brain didn’t have sufficient time to let ideas percolate, test them against my existing world view, and tease out all their implications. Much of that learning comes while lying in the bath, or sitting on a bus, or out walking. Often, I’d be deep into the next book by then, so the prior books wasn’t fully explored before having been pushed out of my awareness by the next.

3. Reading can be insatiable

I soon realised the addictive qualities of mass reading. My attention span lengthened enormously so I’d think nothing of sitting in a chair for six hours straight. Books were answering questions, exploring topics, and introducing imaginary worlds. I’d find myself immersed and not wishing to do anything else. Often lines or phrases would trigger compelling questions that I’d mull over for minutes at a time. It was all so interesting that as soon as I finished one book I’d have a chocolate box selection of interesting titles to try next. I was almost resentful that by choosing one book, I’d have to decline the others, and thus I wanted to race to the end of the current book to minimise the missed opportunities. That made it quite compulsive behaviour for me.

4. Movies and TV are shit

“The book is better than the movie” is true in 99% of cases. The human brain can process words and ideas far faster than physical action and the human voice can articulate them. Thus an hour of reading time packs in far more than an hour of televisual time. Added to that, books are generally far longer than movies and TV shows – the only exception being a premium cable series. These latter shows have the time to develop complex plots and introduce mood-setting redundancy. In a movie, there’s the famous dictum that if you show a gun on the mantelpiece in the first act, it must be fired by the third act. Nothing can be introduced without being relevant. After a while this gets tiresome and predictable. Books can hide foreshadowing better and even create wild goose chases to misdirect you.

Aaron Sorkin made the observation that stories belong in different media. If the focus is physical action, it’s a movie. If the focus is dialogue, it’s a play. If it’s internal thoughts and emotion, it’s a book. This makes books more immersive by nature, as they are a medium for pulling you into the character’s minds rather than observing them from the outside. Lastly, movies and TV are shit because they are pozzed and designed by committee. Books can touch subjects in ways that ((executives)) don’t allow in movies and TV.

5. Writers are good at different parts of writing

As a writer, I’m constantly attempting to improve my own literary ability. One dividing line I often see between writers is between writers of good stories, and writers of good prose. For example, War & Peace has beautiful sentence construction. Judged on a sentence-by-sentence basis its really very impressive. But it’s boring as fuck. It’s just not a good story [3]. In contrast, pulp magazine adventure writers in the early 1920s were often the opposite in that the stories whipped along in compelling and imaginative fashion but the sentences were as painfully crude as music played out of key.

Some writers are fantastic at snappy dialogue, some set a scene well, some tease out human emotion from the strangest places, some set you thinking about how to live the Good Life. Some are competent at everything and special at nothing. Reading lots of books allowed me to see the differences in stark contrast.

6. I like dusting off old gems

I’ve got an aversion to reading modern books and popular books. Generally, I don’t like the pozz, the dumbed-down style, and the pretension. I’d rather read the books by the men who created civilisation than the Jews men who try to destroy it. The wonder of books is they transport you into the writer’s world, and thus reading, for example, Edgar Wallace’s Sanders Of The River stories gives you window into colonial Africa from the viewpoint of a Victorian Englishman. You simply can’t get that on TV or movies. Recently I experimented with picking up dusty paperbacks from a second-hand store, selecting for authors and genres I rarely favour. I also try old stuff on Kindle. Lots of it is fascinating. It feels like you’re the only person to read the book in over fifty years.

7. Committing to finish what I start

I’ve had a rule that if I start a book, I must finish it. I’ve only broken that rule one time, on Ernest Becker’s Denial Of Death [4]. A dozen times I’d start a book and be shaking my head thinking “oh fuck, I’ve picked a bad one” but in each case by the end I was glad I read it. Most recently, I finished Martin Butler’s The Corporeal Fantasy. It’s mostly his blog posts and podcast transcripts hastily edited into book format (it really shows), conveying his personal philosophical system based on Spinoza, Schopenhauer, and Kant. For the first thirty pages I thought he was just a rambling old fruitcake [5] but I persevered and by the end I was extremely glad I’d read it because a sentence here, a turn of phrase there, and even entire paragraphs set me off thinking about philosophical issues in directions I’d never before considered. Had I been more judgemental, I’d have deleted it from my Kindle early and missed out. Committing to finish what I start ensures I encounter scenarios, ideas, and styles I might otherwise filter out.

8. Projects get ambitious

Most people who’ve heard of Alexandre Dumas and want to try him will read The Count Of Monte Cristo. If you’re such a man, I heartily recommend it. Those who get a little more ambitious might read his trilogy of which The Three Musketeers is volume one. More ambitious still, you’ll read all FIVE books of that series. I was more ambitious still – I decided to read all of his multi-volume series, namely: The D’Artagnan Romances, The Valois Saga, The Saint-Hermaine Trilogy, The Marie Antoinette Saga. That’s a total of 17 books, most just as long as The Three Musketeers, itself a big book (so far I’ve read 12).

I read his Joseph Balsamo volume 1 halfway through before realising I had a bad translation, so I bought the better translation and read that same half again – on the same day.

When you read a lot, a 200-page paperback seems like nothing. Just a warm-up. I’ve found myself drawn ever stronger towards epic books and multi-part series. I want the greater journey, and greater complexity that demands ample word-count to achieve.

9. You learn things you didn’t expect to

Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Egypt and then, when the British Navy sank his fleet near Alexandria, he deserted his troops and snuck back into France incognito in order to carry out a coup d’etat. I have now read about those events from three different perspectives: Dumas gave the French nationalist version in his The Companions of Jehu. Dennis Wheatley gave the British espionage perspective in his The Sultan’s Daughter. Then I also read the Time Life History Of The World academic summary version. I’ve also ordered a bodice-ripping women’s romance novel covering the events to see how they approach the material.

I never expected I’d learn so much about the conditions of St Petersburg during the Bolshevik Revolution, but I’ve now read two memoirs on it: one from a British spy, and one from an anarchist Jew. My knowledge of the courts of the kings of France is epic, thanks to Dumas and Wheatley, and I know lots of the Bottom World side of that period thanks to Casanova. It’s enlightening.

I may add more thoughts in another post, should they occur to me.

If you still just want to chase skirt and increase your notch count, remember all my best books are on Amazon now, in full colour, and Daygame Overkill is still the best infield instructional video product.

[1] Readers who have read some mathematics books will know 136+54=190 rather than 200. Those who have read some rhetoric books know that a catchy but inaccurate title sells more copies than a clunky but accurate one.
[2] It was raining.
[3] It’s hugely deficient in intention-plus-obstacle. It meanders without purpose.
[4] It’s horrendously insipid NYC Jewish psychoanalytical claptrap. Imagine watching Woody Allen movies on loop into perpetuity.
[5] Maybe he is, you be the judge. He certainly misunderstands Trump and Brexit.

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Post Information
Title What I learned from reading 200 books in 15 months
Author krauserpua
Date April 14, 2019 9:46 PM UTC (3 years ago)
Blog Krauser PUA
Archive Link https://theredarchive.com/blog/Krauser-PUA/what-i-learned-from-reading-200-books-in-15months.27033
https://theredarchive.com/blog/27033
Original Link https://krauserpua.com/2019/04/14/what-i-learned-from-reading-200-books-in-15-months/
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