A good read

We live in social times, yet text triumphs over speech.

You feel more connected to more friends of yours than ever before. Still, SMS, e-mail and facebook tend to fully replace your good old habits of phone calls, or even physical meet-ups, too. You don’t look out for news anymore; news now find you. In real time, you get streams of content filtered by your friends (Twitter and Facebook); you also have an inbox for the web (Google Reader) and plenty of platforms to digest it (Kindle and iPad).

After all, you are happy to live at the era when creation, contribution and consumption (the 3Cs) of content just got fully democratized. And, no matter of the popular belief that “people don’t read anymore”, the fact is that the uberconnected you consumes more textual content than ever.

In this context, the definition of a ‘good read’ may have to be revisited; today it probably is more important than ever.

As the content you have access to grows exponentially on a daily basis, and your scarcest of resources -your time that is- cannot but remain the same, selections are valuable and recommendations matter. So, what’s the criteria to use so as to pick wisely? Over the not-so-recent period of time that a 180 degree shift to my personal reading habits unfold, I came up with a very basic criterion that has served me really well and I’d like to share.

“A good read is the one that gets you to think about it, more time than it took you to read it.”

It’s simple, yet quite restrictive. We have little time for reading, and even less -typically zero- time for thinking about and digesting what we just read. But, to me, the latter is a prerequisite for a really efficient allocation of your reading; if you don’t stop, think and squeeze the juice out of it, applying the text’s ideas to your very own experiences, then you are far from the fruitful incident of ‘a good read’.

I’m probably missing the purely informational value of a news item here, or the core satisfaction of recreational reading and I do look forward to your constructive criticism on all of the above. But I can’t help but wonder what the value of a 500 pages business book is, when its concept is neatly summed up within 5 pages; same for the flat blog post that you quickly skim to get it finished and move to the next one.

A text’s added value is in the thoughts that it creates; the more thoughts generated in the less amount of text, the better essentially this read is. Or, as Edwin Sschlossberg puts it, “The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think”. At least, that’s what Manylogue is up to.