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Deepen your knowledge: enjoying the rabbit holes of a bibliography

In an age when it’s all too easy to Google for quick answers, it’s always interesting to hear how best-selling authors go about digging deeper and finding their inspiration.

Ryan Holiday – author of books like The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego is the Enemy and The Daily Stoic – has some good tips for really extending your knowledge and deepening your understanding of a subject.

In this blog post, he shares advice on how to push yourself by reading and digesting books “above your level”.

One of the rules he tries to stick to whenever he reads a book is: Read One Book from the Bibliography (the list of books or documents referred to as the author's sources).

"In every book I read, I try to find my next one in its footnotes or bibliography. This is how you build a knowledge base in a subject – it’s how you trace a subject back to its core."

Sometimes it leads to new discoveries or fresh insights on the subject – knowledge that’s skipped over in articles or publications that are easy to find with web searches.

Sometimes a reference in notes or the bibliography takes you down a completely new rabbit hole.

And sometimes you’ll find yourself reading a book you could never imagine yourself understanding, let alone reading.

So the notes and bibliography in one book feed your future reading list – Holiday says he keeps an Amazon Wish List for his.

He acknowledges the book habit can be expensive but says: “How expensive is going back for an MBA? Or attending TED? I think there is more wisdom in the timeless books of the last 5,000 years than a conference or two – if you do it right and push yourself.”

It’s well worth taking the time (less than 10 minutes) to check out the rest of his tips.


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