Wes Baker

Too Well Read

February 14th, 2011

Seeking advice is addicting and can become a proxy for action. […] Be suspicious of lists, advice, and lists of advice.

That comes from someone I highly respect and is a great suggestion for people who are stuck on self-help books and list posts. I’ve been hearing this pretty loud and clear for the past six months from a couple of people and yet, I’ve ignored it. Book purchase after book purchase, I’ve accumulated a library that would make anyone anxious.

What I’ve been recognizing lately is that all of these books are causing me to lose things that I hold very dearly: time, sanity and common sense. My wife suggested that maybe by reading all of the time, I’ve trained my brain to stop bothering with thought and simply go to the instructions it’s been taught. While I have no clue if that’s what’s actually happening, it certainly feels like what might be happening.

It’s with all that in mind that I resolved not to buy a book for the rest of the year. Even with this resolution, I still have too many books to read this year.

This resolution is also borne out of the desire to increase the depth with which I read. I want to truly know what a book says, instead of having a table-of-contents-depth-of-knowledge after reading a book. And having all of these books feels like a crushing weight: when I read, I read to finish the book as quickly as possible, not so I can enjoy and learn from it.

One part of me worries that this resolution will harm me in the long run, yet I got along just fine before I had all of these books and I’m sure I’ll be just fine after I get rid of some of them. Another part of me worries that this is wasteful, that since I have all of these books I should just read them. But, that attitude is what got me here in the first place.