The Barbell Reading Strategy. (If you’re not reading, you’re rotting)


A fascinating study on weight loss[1]; simply buying a scale produced weight loss. No exercise program, no diet, just a scale.

Seth Godin, with a floor to ceiling wall of books behind him was asked, why not just get an e-reader? he replied, ‘it’s not that I want to impress you with how well read I am, it’s that books represent ideas.’

The Barbell Reading Strategy

Reading is brainwashing. Literal brain baths. If you’re not reading, you’re rotting. This is why people will revisit a book 100 times. It’s hygenic. Thinking decays, forgetfulness creeps.  Brains are not harddrives.  Human knowledge is sadly cue dependent (or ‘context dependent’ or ‘domain dependent’) and the longer you go without activating the cues, the more you’ll forget[2]

Read to learn, but also read for hygiene.   Read books to re-activate what you already know.  Re-read books that positively impacted you (as you’ve already established empirically the positive results that book had on your life). Read those books over and over and over for the rest of your life.  An example for some people is the ‘Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle, just by re-eading the book they instantly improve their mindfulness practice and experience benefits in their daily life.  An example from my own life comes from before our last company wide performance reviews, I pulled every book by Druker, Gerber, and Grove off my bookshelves and spent the afternoon flipping through the dog-eared, highlighted pages simply jogging my mind through the relevant concepts.  I was firmly reminded of the fundamental principles which helped the reviews go smoothly and effectively.

Don’t read books for ‘knowledge’ read books to que your memory on what you already know how to do.  The bigger your goals, the bigger and broader and more frequently you should read on the subject.  Financial independence?  Getting in shape?  Success in these domains is not so much about ‘secret knowledge’ as is is consistent adherence to fundamentals.  Reading books helps you in the same way simply owning a scale prevent people from gaining weight.  It ques your existing knowledge.

In essence, reading is not so much about seeking wisdom, but treasuring it.



“From the evidence presented above, it appears that (a) daily weighing does not facilitate further weight loss when added to traditional methods of weight loss; (b) the frequency of weighing correlates with successful weight loss and weight maintenance; (c) daily weighing when either combined with or without electronic messaging can produce a small, but significant weight loss; (d) daily weighing appears to be effective in inhibiting weight regain after weight loss;”



“This is a theory of why forgetting occurs in [long term memory]… , forgetting occurs when the right cue is not available for retrieving the memory. When a memory is encoded it leaves a memory trace which also stores information about the way we felt or the place we were in at the time of encoding. In order for this memory to be accessed again a retrieval cue (prompt) is required.”