Conversations with bookworms

| connecting


People often wonder where I find the time to read books. I wonder if
I’ll ever have enough time _not_ to read books. I get so much out of
them, including incredibly rich conversations with new friends. Here
are two examples from just last week.

I met Driss Benzakour for coffee at
Farcoast last Wednesday. I had first met him at the Third Tuesday
event in February that featured Wikinomics co-author Anthony Williams,
but hadn’t heard from him since then. He got in touch with me because
he was looking for a job, came across my contact information in his
notebook, learned I was joining IBM, and thought I might have some
tips to share.

When I learned that he was interested in consulting, I mentioned a
great book I’d read recently:
Flawless Consulting. “By Peter Block,” Driss said, nodding. Having thus performed the secret handshake of booklovers, we proceeded to talk about a great number of books. I’d mention one of my favorite books, and he’d show the audiobook he’d downloaded from I scrolled through the list of books he’d listened to, and suggested a couple more. Knowing common books allowed us to take shortcuts in our conversations. We could refer to concepts without explaining them all over again, and we could talk about combinations of book ideas. It was a fun and energizing chat, and we talked about far more than we could’ve if we didn’t have common books.

A similar thing happened when I met Michael Nielsen of the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo. Michael showed me a website full of awesome book reviews by one guy with very diverse reading tastes. I said, “He’s building a syntopicon!” Michael guessed that I’d read the classic How to Read a Book. Secret handshake!

Books are terrific. They offer some of the best excuses to connect and
keep in touch with people. If I didn’t read extensively, I’d have to
work much harder at finding common ground and following up with
interesting thoughts! <laugh>

Photo (c) 2007 austinevan,”>Creative Commons Attribution License

p.s. Here’s another interesting bookworm Michael Nielsen recommended: Cosma Shalizi. When I grow up, I’m going to be like them.

Random Emacs symbol: Info-follow-nearest-node – Command: Follow a node reference near point.

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