what to do with all the reading

Many of our societal problems now stem from overabundance.

This isn’t a particularly novel observation - many people have made it.

What you realise when you actively look out for it is that choice is crippling. Which gym to sign up for, which diet, which trainer, which exercise class, which brand to wear, which trainers ad infinitum.

I don’t subscribe to Netflix but whenever I’ve interacted wit it, particularly when it comes to choosing a film, can almost spend a Friends episode amount of time trying to pick one. I usually just pick something I’ve already seen too, to avoid feeling let down by wasting my time watching something shit.

Just picking Friends in the first place solves this conundrum. It turns out loads of people do actually do that, hence its continuing popularity.

Information is the main overabundance in our lives. Whether those are adverts, #content or social posts, we are constantly assailed by it.

It’s not our fault that we succumb to it. Naval Ravikant says,

You have social statisticians, scientists, and researchers in lab coats, literally the best minds of our generation figuring out how to addict you to the news. And if you fall for it, if you get addicted, your brain will get destroyed.

The best minds of our generation. should probably be doing something for our betterment rather than the destruction of our brains but it’s hard to fault people for taking highly paid jobs at the world’s biggest companies. If there was someone who could offer them a better gig then they’d take it I’m sure.

Anyway, what to do with this information?

Recently I’ve implemented a note taking system in Notion that blows the minds of those who’ve witnessed its raw power.

Basically I summarise anything I read to create a 2nd Brain, a concept popularised and taught by Tiago Forte of Forte Labs. It’s fully searchable and has greatly helped me with my information storage and retention.

The abundance of reading material is a big problem for me - I can go down rabbit holes with no problem.

Recently buying books has become a big hing - Amazon have me in their force grip and are choking me, £0.99 by £0.99. Used and New gets me to buy hardbacks when I’d usually get Kindle copies.

They know me better than I know myself, they know I want the fiction books on the shelves and the non-fiction on my Kindle for note taking, they know when to send me an email with price drops and they know that I’ll buy relentlessly.

If the real Amazon rainforest was as abundant and fertile as the Amazon marketplace, the world would be cooling down, not heating up at a rapid clip.

The benefit to this overabundance is that I’m hammering through the books at the minute, like really going for it. I read a whole book 2 days ago, John Lancaster’s The Wall if you’re wondering, and I’m lining up my next targets, as if they’re pheasants flying across my field of vision (and of whatever is in that field). I don’t shoot pheasants though, I just read the books.

It’s what to do with this longer form reading. I’d like to index it, maybe make notes and make a database, partly just so I can brag about all the books I’ve read.

That was a joke.

There doesn’t seem to be a useable tool to do this with though and perhaps I’ll knock up another database in Notion. If anyone knows something useful then please let me know.

In terms of the various abundances available to us, I think the one I’ve latched on to is a pretty minor problem in the grand scheme of things. Of course I would say that. It’s my abundance.

Ben Mercer