Fab Fridays 88: How to Pick a Good Book
6 tips for writing a book worth reading
As I’m writing my book, I’ve been thinking…
What makes a book worth reading?
Here are 6 tips I use for myself:
1. Read authors who have put skin in the game
Writers who’ve taken real risks for their opinions and decisions.
Think of Jocko Willink, David Goggins, and Esther Wojcicki.
They feel compelled to share insights they learned by putting their skin in the game.
These authors don’t make up stories to grab attention, pull tips from pop psychology, or backup opinions with cherry-picked data.
They share their journeys and what worked for them.
Their books are authentic and filled with hard-earned wisdom.
2. Read Lindy authors
The Lindy Effect is a concept popularized by Nassim Taleb. It says that the longer an idea has been around, the longer we should expect it to last.
This principle applies especially to books.
Think of Homer and Shakespeare. Books by these authors survived for a reason.
They changed many lives, which led people to make copies to preserve them for future generations.
In short: the older a book, the more likely that it’s worth reading.
3. Read what “nerds” are reading
Society calls people “nerds” because they love diving deep into ideas and exploring new possibilities. They’re also the people who move society forward.
Where would we be without da Vinci and Einstein?
Chris Dixon has a great saying: “what the smartest people do on the weekend is what everyone else will do during the week in ten years.”
Here’s my version: “what ‘nerds’ read on the weekend is what everyone else will wish they had read in ten years.”
Think of books like “The Beginning of Infinity” by David Deutsch. It may seem obscure and technical, but it’s inspiring many to create a better world.
If you want to get an edge on the future, get inside the heads of those building it.
4. Avoid books that make predictions
You can get a glimpse of the future by reading what the “nerds” are reading. But try to avoid books that make straightforward predictions, especially about topics like technology, society, and politics.
Why? Books that make bold claims about the future sell well, but they aren’t very helpful.
Reliable predictions are nearly impossible, as Nassim Taleb points out. Too many factors are at play. Instead of anticipating how events will unfold, read about how to prepare for any outcome.
5. Avoid Books on the “Latest Science”
Lots of books use this phrase to grab attention. After all, who doesn’t want the latest facts?
But the truth is: the “latest science” is often incomplete—and sometimes misleading.
You might have heard of the “replication crisis” in social science. Basically, a bunch of researchers re-ran published experiments and couldn’t get the same results.
Many “established facts” seemed to be caused by randomness.
Failure to replicate isn’t uncommon in science. It’s one reason why we should be cautious about the latest findings. It takes time to sort out noise from signal in experiments.
6. Read what you like
The most important thing is to learn how to educate yourself, and the way to do that is to develop a love for reading.
So read the books you enjoy, even if that means breaking the tips above.
As Naval Ravikant says, "read what you love until you love to read.”
Until next week,
Ana Lorena Fabrega