My routine for too long has been to consume only nonfiction. My pursuits were to learn about a topic or the history of a topic. It felt like reading anything besides nonfiction was a waste of time and purely for entertainment.
Recently my opinion has significantly changed as I’ve dived back into philosophical and fiction. The first trigger for this was a tweet by Josh Wolfe regarding science fiction.
A large part of my investment thesis revolves around robotics, AI, software, genomics, and other futuristic technologies. Rather than solely reading research reports and S-1s, science fiction can help identify opportunities and build a future world in one’s mind. For example, Ready Player One is a fiction book becoming more and more of a present-day fact.
Why stop with science fiction? All fiction can build a latticework of ideas that connect and solidify one’s views in the “real” world. But why stop with novels either?
Philosophy is another area that forces you to think profoundly and foundationally. What is the meaning of life? What are the different ways one can live their life? While these questions are nearly impossible to answer, they require introspection, which creates a new level of internal and external awareness.
So each morning for the past week, I’ve started my day with 30 minutes of philosophy. Right now, I’m re-reading Meditations, and there’s a reason it is still widely read after 2,000+ years. These old philosophy books are free on the internet due to their age, but they provide so much wisdom and insights and could easily have been written in present day.
Each evening, I try to end my day with 30 minutes of fiction. Right now, my family is reading Giovanni’s Room as part of a book club we’ve created while in lockdown. The prose is incredible. The storytelling is fantastic. I hope reading fiction will help me become a better writer, storyteller, and thinker.
During the day when time allows, I will read nonfiction. Business books. Technology books. History books. Anything where the goal is to add a tidbit of knowledge.
I would place a science or math book in the philosophy category because it helps you think widely and provide a framework of how the world works. But business or history books focus mostly on the what, when, and where.
In this category, I’m currently reading AI Superpowers, an excellent history of the Chinese version of Silicon Valley and the future of AI. So far, it is fascinating.
I’m thankful that I have the time to read more widely and, most importantly, spend more time thinking. Writing is an extension of that, and hopefully, I can continue to build the habit.
Let me leave you with a passage from Meditations:
Though thou shouldst be going to live three thousand years, and as many times ten thousand years, still remember that no man loses any other life than this which he now lives, nor lives any other than this which he now loses. The longest and shortest are thus brought to the same. For the present is the same to all, though that which perishes is not the same; and so that which is lost appears to be a mere moment. For a man cannot lose either the past or the future: for what a man has not, how can any one take this from him? These two things then thou must bear in mind; the one, that all things from eternity are of like forms and come round in a circle, and that it makes no difference whether a man shall see the same things during a hundred years or two hundred, or an infinite time; and the second, that the longest liver and he who will die soonest lose just the same. For the present is the only thing of which a man can be deprived, if it is true that this is the only thing which he has, and that a man cannot lose a thing if he has it not.