You Are What You Read

I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.
     ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

What a quote from Old Waldo, as he’s called in Seabiscuit.

I have to agree with the sentiment – the books you read shape the way you view the world.

But personally I know the books I’ve read. I’ve diligently kept a list for almost ten years now!

My Influences

I posted a new page to the website – go take a look at what I’ve been reading recently. (It’s a work in progress, there are a ton of books to add and format nicely, so currently shows the last dozen books.)

A book a month over a decade is a ton of learning. Example entry for those who don’t click to the actual page:

Flags of Our Fathers: Heroes of Iwo Jima
James Bradley
August 2017

Brian’s thoughts: Powerful story of the WW2 Pacific battles told through the lives of the flag raisers in the famous photo. I think the Japanese aspect of WW2 is fascinating and underappreciated due to all the Nazi focus.


Someone out there on the internet: “But wait a minute – there’s nothing about real estate investing there! I thought that was a huge interest and what you spend all your time thinking about!”

Nope. Investing in rental properties is a means to an end. I think more people should consider it, but I do it as passively as possible, it barely occupies my thoughts through a typical week.

But there is one real estate book that I read way back in high school and has had a lasting impact:

Why Books? I Learn Other Ways

I’ve heard plenty of arguments for why books are no longer relevant and people can learn in other ways. Check out this quote from The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains:

For some people, the very idea of reading a book has come to seem old-fashioned, maybe even a little silly – like sewing your own shirts or butchering your own meat. “I don’t read books,” says Joe O’Shea, a former president of the student body at Florida State University and a 2008 recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship. “I go to Google, and I can absorb relevant information quickly.” O’Shea, a philosophy major, doesn’t see a reason to plow through chapters of text when it takes a minute or two to cherry-pick the pertinent passages using Google Book Search.

What’s sad is the quote is from a philosophy major. Philosophy! With big ideas and lots of nuance, not simply facts. Come on guy!

I’m not buying into the idea you just need the bullet points of a book – even non-fiction. You have to sit with the idea for a long time and view it from many different angles. Then and only then will it sink in and actually influence the way you view the world.

Think of it as a wavelength for impacting your brain. Books are very low frequency and penetrating. They are low bandwidth but leave a lasting impact. High frequency bullet points and summaries are exciting and noteworthy, but often hit the surface of your brain and bounce off.

Also Learn Other Ways

I’ve learned about real estate investing through passive education (podcasts, books), active education (meetups, seminars), and hands-on education (making the leap and learning on the way).

Obviously I’m pro learning from blogs too.

Just don’t think all those other ways are replacement for books. They should be in addition!

How About You?

You are on the internet seeking knowledge – do you read books? What’s the per year pace that you’ve found works for you?

Do you buy that reading is a different than other types of learning?

After taking a look at what I’ve read, any recommendations for me?

You Are What You Read