Life

Why I’m reading fewer books

On finding the balance between input and output.

For the past decade (since I graduated college in 2007), I’ve read 25-50 books per year.

At the start of 2018, I decided to stop reading books almost entirely. 

(Confession: as it turns out, my version of “stopping” has been reading 1 book a month in 2018 so far haha)

For the latter half of 2017, I had a growing sense of discontent that I determined was the result of a gap that existed between the volume of new knowledge I was taking in relative to the degree I was putting the knowledge I already possessed into practice.

As the new year turned over, I vowed to spend more time growing through creating (aka learning as I go), than learning academically (aka learning in advance).

This recent tweet I came across captures my feeling well:

“People think they need more knowledge when in reality they need to implement the knowledge they already possess. Because active implementation of knowledge requires real work, they procrastinate by reading more stuff while thinking that they are doing something productive.”

I’ve spent the better part of 2018 immersed in working on new home designs, looking for real estate investments, expanding my photography skillset (including starting to share my photos on Instagram), and developing a really consistent exercise habit. 

As a result, I feel more connected with my creative self, more fulfilled, and I’m the most physically fit I’ve been as an adult. Plus I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed any sense of learning or growth. If anything I feel more capable and confident because any new knowledge I’m gaining is being reinforced through direct application in the work I’m doing.


Interestingly, I was recently introduced to the Enneagram and discovered I’m a 5. 5’s tendency is to get stuck in thought and knowledge gathering mode — which means the growth direction for a 5 is a move towards action (8). Fascinating how it coincides with the conclusions I came to by investigating my discontent.

🤝 Stay in touch

I send an email several times a year with a handful of the most interesting things I’ve written or uncovered at home, abroad, and on the web.

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