Value of re-reading books

If your goal is to learn, reading books is one of the best habits you could add to your life. It’s no wonder all successful people (by a traditional measure, wealth – Gates, Buffett…), and all interesting people I know are voracious readers. I mostly concur with that opinion, learning by reading builds up like compound interest.

There’s another habit for which I don’t have any ad-hominem argument to convince you to pick up. Make a conscious effort to re-read certain books.

Why this works for me? Lessons from books are just not obvious at every point of your life. There are certain experiences you have to share with the author in order to relate to them better. Maybe it’s also that the books I keep on my ‘re-read list’ are also very dense and it seems impossible to remember all they try to teach. From a more scientific point of view, spaced repetition has proven to be a great technique to retain stuff in your memory.

The way I do it is certainly no-frills. I just keep certain books on my tablet (Kindle Fire HD 7′ with Android, battery lasts like an ebook!) and my phone, and I read them using Bookari premium (previously Mantano Reader). You can configure it to read books using some text-to-speech engine so it works perfect for me.
There isn’t much more to it, than that. From time to time I get bored in a flight/train trip/beach/whatever… so I start reading and these books are always with me.

Here are some of the books in my list:

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (2nd edition) – Tom DeMarco, Timothy Lister
Practical Object-Oriented Design in Ruby – Sandi Metz
Team Geek – Brian W. Fitzpatrick, Ben Collins-Sussman
A guide to the good life: The ancient art of stoic joy – William B. Irvine
Apprenticeship Patterns – Dave Hoover, Adewale Oshineye
The algorithm design manual – Steven Skiena
Release it! – Michael T. Nygard
Programming Pearls (2nd ed) – Jon Bentley

Which ones have you found worth reading over and over?


PS: It’s been a long time since the last blog post. Mostly because I thought of my blog as a place for ‘hardcore’ technical content. I don’t feel that should be the case any more, and I will not stop myself from writing about less ‘quantitative’ topics. What I aim with this is to share more, and learn more through this medium.