This past season I went through my Kindle and added all of the books I'd bought over the past few years to an Airtable spreadsheet. I tried to rank them, list out which I'd finished, and more importantly, write a line or two about what I'd learned from each one.
Not unsurprisingly, there were many books I've read (at least part of) but couldn't quite remember what I'd learned from them. I remembered a feeling, and I'd remembered a general sense of the book, but I couldn't list out anything specific.
Doing this review helped me look a bit deeper into my world view. And it also taught me about books themselves.
It taught me that a book is a life's work of thinking.
It's distilled into a neat package or present to gift to the world.
A book is a gift of life experience, and it's wisdom passed on to someone else.
A book is a question.
It's asking, "will you see the world that I see it?"
"What would your life be like if you saw the world through this perspective?"
Most of the lines of "learning" I had from each book was the new question I was able to pose (despite if I agreed with the answer).
A book is a bias.
And I'm really happy to read all of these biases.
Because it helps me check my own, or question my own, or adopt another bias, happily.
A book is a feeling.
A character is portrayed in such a way that you feel a certain way.
Maybe a part you haven't dared show to others.
A book is an idea that gets oversold.
After all, the work of the author is to transfer an idea. And so they look to add more credibility, more ways of saying it, more stories, more ways of approaching this idea than are likely necessary. But this also helps you "get it" the way the author "gets it."
In this way, a book always oversells the idea they have—it's built-in. It forces the author to write more on an idea than they ever had before.
But that's OK.
Ideas have no limits.
It's our minds that we keep limited.
A book is a vehicle to expand the limits of your mind beyond where they are now.
One thing I loved looking through this list was that I would see certain books, and they would once again spark that first, fresh idea they dropped into my mind all over again!
Reading the ideas of someone else is like trying new food.
Sometimes you think, "how could I have never tasted this before!?"
And sometimes it just tastes terrible, so you spit it out.
But even then...
I'm still glad I tried it.