Personal Growth

Reading in Clusters

Bookmarked How I read by Slava Akhmechet (spakhm's newsletter)

Read clusters of five books. Visualize clusters as instruments to inspect the world. Collect instruments into a mental lab. Read ~40 pages/day. That’s ~20 books/year, 40 new instruments per decade.

Radically intriguing approach to choosing what to read: clusters.

I settled on clusters of five [books] and almost never read a single book in isolation. Less than five feel lacking; more than five gets repetitive. Every cluster has a goal of the form “study X¬†through¬†Y“.

He aims to read one cluster each quarter, 20 books a year.

My approach to non-fiction reading is much more haphazard, just whatever I think sounds interesting, and occasionally a targeted book for a specific issue. Most of the non-fiction I read focuses on personal growth and creative work, with a handful of other topics thrown in.

My approach is much more reading for entertainment than necessarily reading to learn. I pick things I’m interested in learning about, sure, but with less focus and application. Probably why I quit half the non-fiction I start after getting bored. The information isn’t given purpose beyond entertaining me and satisfying my desire to know things. I trust that I’ll find connections, but don’t intentionally seek them.

His approach makes me think of college, where I invariably made lots of interesting connections between all the things I was learning, even cross-discipline between my science classes for my major and the core humanities.

I could probably stand to read some more non-fiction, but I’m not sure I’m up for this intensity of learning right now.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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