Reading - The Compounding of Knowledge


Warren Buffett has often been quoted to say that the most powerful factor in his financial success is “compounding interest”. I feel the same way, not just about long-term investments but also in the accumulation of knowledge, especially through reading books.

Ironically, for the longest time I have taken the opposite stance, and not without good reason. I practically have never read a book not required by some course or exam, and have done fine in my academic career. If there was something I wanted to learn, online courses and Youtube videos did the job. That is, until the tail end of my studies and I realized how much was missing in my understanding of the world, a gap that only the investment of time could make up. In particular, I wanted to master personal finance, and not just to the degree of your average Robinhood gambler, or to pass an artificial test. I wanted to truly succeed in that subject with minimal missteps, because my competence would have a direct impact on my future. Unlike the countless exams I have taken to arrive at this point, there is no “fair” assessment that can be finessed through simple tricks. The only assessment is one’s wealth and to a degree one’s happiness, a cost too dear for me to pay. As my frantic online searches only brought up more questions than they answered, I realized I had to change my attitude towards learning. To systematically excel in such a historied and multivariate topic as money management, I needed new tools.

As the return on investment compounds to generate a larger gain the following year, the knowledge base obtained from reading rewards with a more profound understanding of future learnings. Moreover, the focused deep dives offer a greater opportunity of knowledge retention, compared against the ad hoc learning of Google searches and Youtube videos. I was also heavily influenced by my mother, who reads abundantly. Her biggest regret was not starting sooner, echoing the many investment advices I have read online, and though I have heard her counsel many times before, this is the first time I listened. Thus, I have set a realistic goal for myself, to read 10 books this year. It is now August 2020, and I have read the following 6:

As I make more progress towards my goal, I will gradually update the blog section with more content. I am also planning to write some commentary on a few individual books, coming later in the year.

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