Books, Articles, Talks – Some Thoughts on Planning and Organizing Your Intellectual Input

if I don’t make a conscious decision about how to think and what to pay attention to…
That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think.
David Foster Wallace, commencement address he gave to the graduates of Kenyon College in 2005


So many books -- never enough time...

So many valuable, useful books — never enough time…

Time to be honest…

What book do you have in your reading stack that you really, really do intend to read – in fact, you have intended to, and felt like you needed to, read it for a very long time – but, you still haven’t gotten around to it?

And – time to be honest here – what books have you “acted like” you’ve read when the title comes up in conversation, but you really haven’t read it?

Here’s the deal. There are lots of good books out there. And, in the few minutes it takes to read this blog post, another few have been published. So many very good books, so many other time demands…

I thought of this as I perused through my un-read sample pages downloads on my iPad Kindle app. My default practice these days is that I read or hear about a book, or read a review of a book, or read a good quote or two from a book in an article or someone’s blog post, and I immediately download the sample pages. But, I don’t get around to reading them all. Nor do I get around to reading all of the books I “move up” in my stack, and intend to read fully.

I have written often about how I read books, and about the value of reading good books. But, since we cannot read every good book (and, we let’s face it – we really can’t!), then we have to get very good at how we organize our book and other intellectual intake. We read many of the “most important” books – most important to what we do, according to our unique needs, and some that we just really like to read (yes, some books are simply to be read for the sheer pleasure of reading them). And then we try to find other ways to learn the good ideas from the books we don’t get around to. We join book clubs, we go to book readings and reviews, and we buy book summary offerings.

That’s where we come in. We have provided a fast-paced synopsis of two business books at our First Friday Book Synopsis every month since April, 1998. (For July, we meet on the 2nd Friday, July 11, because of the holiday on the 4th).

And, we record our presentations, and offer these (audio) recordings along with our multi-page, comprehensive handouts, at our companion web site,

Have we presented every good business book over the 16+ years of our event? No; but we’ve presented many… And, on this blog, we write about many others.

You want to learn new ideas, new strategies, new skills. Books are one good place to keep learning. So, plan and organize your ongoing, life-long learning input. Use every tool you can find to use; read books; read about books you don’t get around to; take advantage of synopses and summaries.

But, most of all, learn something, and then close that knowing-doing gap. Do something with what you learn. If you don’t, you haven’t really learned it, have you? And that’s the real challenge, isn’t it?!

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