Mr. Fridman has set himself the objective of reading or re-reading one book a week during 2023, and has been compiling a list of the books he might read. Reading List - Lex Fridman
It is interesting to look at his list and realize, at least in my own case, (a) how many of those books I have read, and (b) how little I remember about most of them. Looks like some re-reading will be in order!
Mr. Fridman’s list has a surprising undercount of biographies, histories, and science topics – but each to his own. We should wish him well with his reading plan – and perhaps let him know that John Walker’s Reading List (sadly, not often updated these days) remains an excellent resource for anyone trying to decide which books to focus on in the limited amount of reading time any of us have.
I, too, have discovered the value of re-reading important books - currently *American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur by William Manchester. For the past several months, re-reading has been the rule. I just finished The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes. I am, if anything enjoying re-reading more than the first time through. One advantage of age-related mental decline: one may cut back on book purchases (mine are mostly Kindle - which has become more expensive over the years).
Another advantage is that the older mind has no patience for the politically correct obeisances which disfigure so much of today’s literary output. I have taken to reading mostly older books, obtained as used good condition hard copies. Many such books can be purchased for little more than the cost of postage. Finding the time to read them all? Now, there’s the rub!
be. So I follow the Lindy effect as a guide in selecting what to read: books that have been around for ten years will be around for ten more; books that have been around for two millennia should be around for quite a bit of time, and so forth.
It refers to the Lindy effect, “a theorized phenomenon by which the future life expectancy of some non-perishable things, like a technology or an idea, is proportional to their current age.”
It has been popularised in recent years in the writings of Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Here is Taleb’s example from Antifragile:
If a book has been in print for forty years, I can expect it to be in print for another forty years. But, and that is the main difference, if it survives another decade, then it will be expected to be in print another fifty years. This, simply, as a rule, tells you why things that have been around for a long time are not “aging” like persons, but “aging” in reverse. Every year that passes without extinction doubles the additional life expectancy. This is an indicator of some robustness. The robustness of an item is proportional to its life!
The principle is named after Lindy’s delicatessen in New York City, frequented by show business people who observed that the future run of Broadway shows was well predicted by how long they had survived so far.