Rereading the Same Book

Background

Last year I read 30 books. And then I wrote an article about it.

What you can learn from it is that I was never an avid reader, but more of a (very) late-bloomer. But I figured that “if you want to be successful, you’ve gotta read. A lot”. Don’t really ask me what it means, but it is what I believed in.

So I focused on reading a lot for the sake of reading. I think I had a goal of covering around 20 pages per day. So far so good.

Then came the realization that I DID read a lot, but to hell if I actually remembered anything. Like, I would be reading a review of a book that I read couple of months ago and feel like – “Did I read this? Seriously?”.

I upgraded my game afterwards and started focusing more on being immersed in it. This, obviously, came with experience. I learned a couple of techniques along the way, like “it’s ok to drop a boring book” and “it’s OK to read more than one book at the same time”. This eventually helped me start paying attention to WHAT I was reading, which is how I ended up reading those 30 books.

Along the way, one rather interesting thing caught my attention. I think it was a tweet, or a blog post by Naval Ravikant, sharing advice advice on reading, which goes like – “It’s better to re-read the same 100 books over and over again, than to read thousands of books and not get anything out of them”. Obviously I paraphrased, but you get the gist.

And that’s something I will be elaborating on.

Fear of Missing Out

I’m generally a guy whose, unfortunately, obsessed with progress and going forward. Hence, my goal was never to actually LEARN anything from books. My goal was to read as much as possible so that I can make progress. And write blog posts about it (just kidding 😁).

Spending more time than necessary on the same book would infuriate me. You know, like, instead of being stuck trying to understand this stupid chapter, I could be actually making some further progress.

But now that I come to think of it, deep down, I was actually afraid. Afraid of missing out. Afraid of missing out on READING MORE. Reading NEW books. Reading as much as possible. Because, you know, goal is to READ, not to actually LEARN anything. Shit thinking, I’ll tell you that.

What’s cool though is that I’m not alone. Frankly, not only am I not alone, but there seems to be enough people suffering from the same shit that it got a name of it’s own. FOMO. Ever heard of it? It stands for – Fear of Missing Out. Yep, it’s a real thing, and Wikipedia has a whole page about it:

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is anxiety stemming from the belief that others might be having fun while one is not present. FOMO is associated with a fear of regret, which may lead to concerns that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, a memorable event, or a profitable investment. It is characterized by a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing, and can be described as the fear that deciding not to participate is the wrong choice.

Source: Wikipedia

I was shit-scared of coming to a point in my life where I would realize I haven’t been reading ENOUGH! Not “learned enough”, which would be an appropriate thing to be afraid of, but READ enough. How stupid is that?

The Big Revelation

I’m happy to report that I’ve started engaging more and more in the game of re-reading the books. Heck, half of the books that I’ve read this year were actually re-reads of the stuff from past.

That’s not why I’m writing this article, though. No. What hit me and what actually triggered me to write this article happened couple of days ago. A week tops.

The gym that I work out in is one of those bare-metal ones, built in an underground shelter. Painted all yellow and grey with that stimulating odour produced by mixing sweat and motivation. It has a looot of equipment, but two things are missing – cell phone signal and a WiFi. And that’s important for this story.

As I’m generally obsessed with podcasts, I simply went on and downloaded couple of them so that I can listen offline.

Crazy as it may sound, but for over a year, every single morning, I would be listening to Joe Rogan talking to one of these people – Kevin Ross, David Goggins, Jocko Willink and Pavel Tsatsouline. Every. Single. Morning. Same. Podcasts. Over and over.

It came to a point where I actually knew them beginning to end. I remembered almost every single sentence that they were about to say. It was weird, but I loved it.

And here comes a fun part. Due to whatever stupid bug in Spotify, David Goggins podcast somehow vanished and I never bothered enough to re-download it. So I just kept listening to the three remaining ones.

Lo and behold, recently I actually discovered that my gym DOES have a WiFi (truth to be told, I have no clue if I never checked for it or if they installed it recently) and I just decided to re-listen to that Goggins podcast.

And this is where it hit me. Like, bitch-slapped me. I shit you not but I’m sure that I’ve re-listened this 3+ hour podcast at least 30 times. Maybe even more than that. I knew almost the whole conversation beginning to end. And here I am, relistening to it after couple of months and holy mother of fucks … I’ve heard the same story billion times and yet, this time I figured out I missed a critical piece that actually gave a WHOLE NEW CONTEXT to it! A way DEEPER one! I swear! Just by writing this I’m getting freakin’ goosebumps!

That’s when I realized what Naval was talking about. Why you should find 100 books that you like and keep re-reading them until you extract every single drop of wisdom out of them. And that’s when I realized I have to write about this.

Rereading the Same Book

By coming this far, you probably understand I’m not talking exclusively about books, right?

I was jaw dropped the other day, reading an explanation of “What the heck happened in ‘Eyes Wide Shut'”, where the author claims that after ONE-HUNDREDTH re-watch of it, he figured some important pieces out. ONE-HUNDREDTH!!! This freakin’ move is 2h and 39 minutes long, which means he invested 265 hours in it! That’s eleven days and nights!

And you know what? I get it. Seriously, I do. Oddly enough, I always found pleasure in watching some movies over and over again (looking at you, Back to the Future!) and I think my GF always thought I’m a bit freakish. At least now I know I’m not alone, eh?

Joke aside though, the more I think about it, the more I realize how important and useful it can be. Finding books, movies, podcasts or even holiday destinations that you enjoy and re-engaging in that experience for as long as you find it pleasurable. Even if you are NOT getting anything new, doing it for the sake of reliving that experience is a good enough reason.

Of course, keep reminding yourself of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). It’s out there and it’s intertwined in a weird way with YOLO (You Only Leave Once). A crazy symbiosis of stupid ideologies that, if used wrongly, will keep you stuck in that limbo of frustration and panic. Hence, Fuck YOLO and Fuck FOMO! You have my permission to enjoy the same set of things over and over again!

Summary

  • Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a real thing and it can keep you constantly searching for MORE of NEW
  • Don’t be a victim of it; listen to Naval Ravikant’s advice of “Find 100 books that you enjoy and keep re-reading them”
  • And you know what? Forget about books. Find things that you enjoy and understand that it’s OK to keep re-doing them for as long as you are enjoying them
  • Last but not least – have fun!

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2 thoughts on “Rereading the Same Book

  1. FOMO is the worst, it’s unnecessary anxiety. We place so much emphasis on what we may be “missing out on” and then we begin to lose track of what we actually want to do. It’s all good until it becomes an obsession. The feeling that you “should be doing” something else really sucks.

    I agree, Joe Rogan is awesome. Lex Fridman is great too.

    1. >> We place so much emphasis on what we may be “missing out on” and then we begin to lose track of what we actually want to do.

      This!! Exactly!!

      >> Lex Fridman is great too.

      Hm, I never listened to his podcasts to be honest, but I did listen to couple of them where he was Joe’s guest. For some reason I didn’t really “get” into him, but I do hear a lot of people did. I’ll probably recheck it at some point.

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