Why random reading could be useful

Random thoughts on a reading process

I have to confess I am an obsessive reader. I like books, I like to read them a lot, I like to read them daily. It seems like the most efficient way of reading books or doing other tasks is doing it in a sequential way, where each book completed before the next one is read. The issue is that I cannot help, but defy this approach. I can read a number of books in parallel, jumping from one to another and returning back again. I also can be distracted by a reference to a different book, and so it goes.

Now, we may ask is there any point is such haphazard reading, where the focus is constantly lost, things and thoughts are getting mixed? Personally, I do not find this confusing or disorganizing, but actually, I see some merit in this approach. First, you do not get bored and have some fresh point of view when you return to a book (if you remember where you’ve left last time). Second, since good books are just like candies, it’s difficult to decide where to start, what have next and when to finish.

Stack overflow of the books

Having described my non-linear approach to reading I should mention that nevertheless, on average, I usually able to read 1.5 books a month. This is nice, but there are a couple of books that are still in the stack and they tend to overflow it. There is this book What’s Math Got Do With It by Jo Boaler, then there is The Fabric Of Reality by David Deutsch, underneath is the Unknown Quantity by John Derbyshire. Further below is All Things Being Equal by John Mighton, traveling by US post is a Number-Crunching: Taming Unruly Computational Problems from Mathematical Physics to Science Fiction by Paul Nahin, and last but not least is infinite powers by Steven Strogatz.

Speaking of Steven Strogatz book. Last year I was looking for a good book on applied mathematics and stumbled upon Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos: With Applications to Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Engineering which is very good. Then I checked other books Steven wrote and found that in addition to textbooks he also wrote a number of popular science books. One of them was infinite powers. It is enough to read just a few pages of this book to understand that it’s a pure gem in the world of popular science books and if you’d like to really get a good understanding of what differentiation and integration is without going directly to a calculus course then this book may be of interest to you. When I finish reading it, I’ll write a more extensive review of the book.

Random walking

For now, keep reading and try reading sequentially, otherwise start a random walk. Who knows what you stumble upon and where it take you.

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