Several years ago, I read Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book after seeing it discussed on Farnam Street. A book about reading a book sounds like a joke, I know, but it’s surprisingly not.
From an early age we’re taught to read, but not how to learn and fully understand something from reading. The book is an instruction manual on that process.
I won’t rehash it all here (read the book if you’re interested), but I was already doing part of that process like marginalia — highlighting, underlying, circling keywords, notes in the margins, etc.
I highlighted and underlined the hell out of that book but never bothered to summarize or go back through it to take notes. But I quickly recovered on the next book — marginalia, summary, notes, the works — and maintained some consistency after that.
Until I reread The Intelligent Investor. Ben Graham packed it with so much wisdom, my copy has literally dozens of pristine pages (maybe two dozen, three tops, out of 340 pages) left untouched by a pen. The time it took to go through that book played some mind games. 78 pages of notes later and it’s been hit or miss ever since.
It’s time to get back on the horse, so to speak. This project is purely meant to reinforce the process of taking notes by publishing it along the way.
I have no idea how useful the notes will be for you but they are immensely helpful for me. The notes are not all-inclusive. They are not meant to replace reading the book by any means. It’s simply a list of thoughts and ideas from the book that stuck out at the time of reading. In some cases, the notes are over five years old. If I were to read the book today, knowing what I know, the notes would likely look different.
I set this up in order to make it as easy as possible to add new notes. The first step was finished over the holiday break. I created a custom post type and taxonomy for the notes, coded and CSSed the archive page, and built a template to easily add new notes. So once published, new notes are automatically added and sorted by topic.
You can find the archive page here: Book Notes, broken down by topic. The current selection is small, but it’s a start:
- Simple Wealth Inevitable Wealth
- The Money Game
- The Art of Speculation
- Why You Win or Lose: The Psychology of Speculation
- The Little Book of Behavioral Investing
- Why Don’t We Learn From History?
- How to Lie with Statistics
- The Little Book that Still Beats the Market
- The Davis Dynasty
More will be added soon (editing existing notes takes time and then there’s the dreaded The Intelligent Investor notes to deal with too).
- The Biggest Returns – M. Housel
- Seth Klarman, in Rare Interview, Offers a Warning – The New Yorker
- The Difficulty of Being a Bear in a Bear Market – M. Batnick
- The Stay Rich Portfolio (or, How to Add 2% Yield to Your Savings Account) – M. Faber
- The Road to ETFs – J. Catherwood
- Morality and Money Management – R. Shiller
- After 25 Years Studying Innovation, Here is What I Learned – C. Christensen
- Survival is the Ultimate Performance Measure of a Business – Intelligent Fanatics
- Don’t Overthink It – Boston Review
- The Hot New Asset Class is Lego Sets – Bloomberg
- The Secrets of Lyndon Johnson’s Archives – New Yorker
- The Beatles: The Strange History of Sexy Sadie – Den of Geeks