Thursday, June 17, 2010

The forgotten habit of reading

** "BIAS" is a special feature in my blog where I get to say whatever I want with scant regards for your feelings. I'm not politically correct in this feature, so go ahead, judge me."

In my job, I talk with many young people. I walk away with the grim knowledge that most of them do not have a habit of reading. I'm not just talking about reading textbooks for academic purposes, but also reading for the joy of doing so. From what I observed, girls read more than guys, though it might be mainly fashion magazines or other lighter fair like 8 days etc. I think one of the main contributing reason is that there are many distractions that are far more exciting than just plain reading.

I was just telling one of my students that I had just bought a kindle dx just three weeks ago. He asked me how much it costs and I told him it's a few hundreds. To this, he exclaimed that he would never spend such money on books. I guess that pretty much sums it up about the youth these days. They would rather spend money to engage someone to teach them then to read it up themselves. It's quite horrifying when I heard that most of them will just throw away the manual for any gadgets they bought and just jump straight into it. Perhaps they are so confident of their ability to trial and error any functions that their gadgets possess (they are afterall, the IT generation).

But why are they so disgusted with reading? I've no idea, but I guess it's good for my job. Most of the stuff I teach can be found in the examples given in the textbooks, so I suppose that if they do read it up, I might not be that busy anymore.

To me, reading is the best way to gain the knowledge and experiences of those that came before us. Culture is retained in the literature and passed down from the past to the present. If you would just read, you'll find that you do not have to keep re-inventing the wheel. I remembered when I was learning FA, I had a goal of reading one finance book per week - that makes it 52 books per year. That was back in 2008. I was reading voraciously on accountings, financial statements analysis and those books by guru investors, and I was greedily lapping it all up. It was until I had finished most of the shelves in the library that I slowed down. These days, I am much more selectively in what I read, choosing instead to re-read some of the best books that I had filtered down through the years.

My gf always wanted shelves of books occupying an entire wall in our home

Just for the records, here's the books that I devoured from 2007 to 2009. I'll highlight the ones that I would want to re-visit again and again.

Books read in 2007

1. Five point something – Chetan Bhagat
2. How to become stupid – Martin Page
3. The curious incident of the dog in night-time – Mark Haddon
4. The stupidest angel – Christopher Moore
5. The way of the cockroach – Craig Hovey
6. Legally correct fairy tales – David Fisher
7. It’s kind of a funny story – Ned Vizzini
8. Jacob’s ladder – Brian Keaney
9. Politically correct bedtime stories: Modern tales for our life & times – James Finn Garner
10. Cathy’s book – Cathy
11. Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
12. Label – Louis de Bernieres
13. The successful investor – William J. O’Neil
14. Rich dad poor dad – guide to investing – Robert Kiyosaki
15. Do you want to make money or would you rather fool around – John D Spooner
16. Vault career guide to investment banking
17. Financial Statements - Thomas R. Ittelson
18. The four pillars of investing: lessons for building a winning portfolio – Dr William Bernstein
19. Accounting Demystified: A self teaching guide – Loita A.Hart
20. Five rules for successful stock investing – J Wiley, Joe Mansueto, Pat Dorsey
21. The little book of value investing – Christopher H. Browne
22. The little book that beats the market – Joel Greenblatt
23. The unwritten law of business – J.W. King, revised by James.G.Skakoon
24. Stone age company – Sally Bibb
25. The rules of wealth – Richard Templar
26. The laws of simplicity – John Maeda
27. The 5 keys to value investing - Jean Jacques

Books read in 2008

1. Warren Buffet Speaks - Wit and Wisdom from the World's Greates Investor - Janet Lowe
2. Winning - Jack Welch/Suzy Welch
3. The Dividend rich investor - Joseph Tigue/Joseph Lisanti
4. The little books of common sense investing – John C bogle
5. Everyman and his common stocks – Laurence H. Sloan
6. Investment madness – John R. Nofsinger
7. Lessons from the legends of wall street – Nikki Ross
8. Understanding comics – Scott McCloud
9. Free cash flow and shareholder yield – William Priest/Linsay McClelland
10. The ultimate dividend playbook – Josh Peters
11. The five rules of successful stock investing – Pat Dorsey
12. Why smart people do stupid things with money – Bert Whitehead
13. Building the perfect portfolio – Curtis J. Montgomery
14. A concise guide to macroeconomics – David A. Moss
15. Little black book of connections – Jeffrey Gitomer
16. The little book of value investing – Christopher H. Browne
17. The Tao of warren buffet – Mary buffet
18. Monopoly rules – Millind M. Lee
19. Buffettology – Mary buffet / David Clark
20. Common stocks and uncommon profits – Phil. A. Fisher
21. One up on wall street – Peter Lynch
22. The Warren buffet way – Robert G. Hagstrom
23. Anyway – the paradoxical commandments – Kent M. Keith
24. Cut to the chase – Stuart R. Levine
25. The Intelligent investor – Benjamin Graham
26. The bull hunter – Dan Denning
27. The black swan – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
28. The market guru – John Reese/Todd Glassman
29. Liar’s Poker – Michael Lewis
30. Confessions of a wall street analyst – Dan Reingold
31. The Citibank guide to building personal wealth – Leo Gough
32. The essays of warren E. Buffett – Lawrence A. Cunningham
33. Morningstar guide to mutual funds – Christine Benz
34. Benjamin Graham on value investing – Janet Lowe
35. A random walk down wall street- Burton G. Malkiel
36. Even buffet isn’t perfect – Vahan Janjigian
37. Origins of the Crash – Roger Lowenstein
38. Reminiscences of a stock operator – Edwin Lefevre
39. Killing sacred cows – Garett B. Gunderson
40. The real warren buffet – James O’Loughlin
41. 100 cats who made a difference – Sam Stall
42. The little book that makes you rich – Louis Navellier
43. Debt – Juliane Otterbach
44. Saving – Juliane Otterbach
45. V for Vendetta – Alan Moore, David Lloyd
46. Full of Bull – Stephen T. McClellan
47. This is not a book – Michael Picard
48. My Formula! – Thomas Matthew
49. Value Investing – Sebastian Chong
50. Financial statements for non-financial people – Ron Price
51. A primer on money,banking and gold – Peter L. Bernstein
52. The little book that saves your assets – David M. Darst
53. The Joseph cycle (2004 edition) – Simon Sim
54. Animal Farm – George Orwell
55. I.O.U.S.A – Addison Wiggin, Kate Incontrera, Dorianne Perrucci

Books read in 2009

1. Investing against the tide - Anthony Bolton
2. Pit Bull - Martin Schwartz
3. Fooled by Randomness - Nassim Taleb
4. When genius failed - Roger Lowenstein
5. Real tips, real money - Leong CT/Leong SH/Dr David Tay
6. Candlestick charts - Clive Lambert
7. Sell and sell short - Dr. Alexander Elder
8. Come into my trading room - Dr. Alexander Elder
9. Trading for a living - Dr. Alexander Elder
10. Silver Surfer Requiem
11. Free market madness - Peter A. Ubel
12. Sales Bible - Jeffrey Gitomer
13. Avengers Disassembled - Brian Michael Bendis/David Finch
14. Successful Value Investing in Asia - Tony Measor
15. Where are the customers' yachts? - Fred Schwed, Jr
16. The little book of bull moves in bear markets - Peter D.Schiff
17. Keynes and the Market - Justyn Walsh
18. Warren Buffet and the interpretation of financial statements - Mary Buffet & David Clark
19. The physics of superheroes - James Kakalios
20. Motoring Basics
21. Your money or your life - Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
22. Bailout - John Waggoner
23. The Millionaire in you - Michael LeBoeuf
24. The 5 lessons a millionaire taught me - Richard Paul Evans
25. How to trade in Stocks - Jesse Livermore (& Richard Smitten)
26. The Wall street Self defense Manual - Henry Blodget
27. Teach yourself to Live - C.G.L. Du Cann
28. How to become a property millionaire - Azizi Ali
29. Cats - the book of the musical - Harvest books
30. The little book that builds wealth - Pat Dorsey
31. Success in the education business - Vincent A. Gabriel

So there!

With my Amazon Kindle, I'll be reading much more fiction and classics that I had always wanted to read, but had difficulty finding in the library. These days, it's hard to find new knowledge in the financial books that I read. After all, there's only so much things to learn about finance. Most of the books will be just talking about the same ideas but phrased in different forms.


AK71 said...

Hi LP,

Sadly, reading is no longer a habit for me. It is more a luxury. :(

Kerry said...

Well done LP! Totally agree that it's such a waste for ppl to not like reading. Tons of knowledge, wisdom, laughs & tears just lying in plain sight for the picking.

I'll definitely have a wall of books when I get a place of my own. After all, my bedroom library is already overspilling.

Happy reading LP! Oh and btw, great blog. Been reading it for awhile now. Think it's my first post though. *shrug*

Cheers mate,

athulican said...

1. Technology advancement, information (knowledge) overload, can't read fast enough. So use ctrl-f to help.

2. Too much distractions, games, internet, studies, extras, no time to read.

Buggery said...

Yeah sad but true. It's also unfortunate that reading is not really cultivated in our society.

Most Singaporeans don't really have much culture in them or even the desire to experience or have some form of artistic culture. So books... forget it.

I've heard tonnes of people who say: "I only want to read read useful things." So most reading turns out to be magazines (on fashion tips), newspapers (for all important news), non-fiction books (for them to emulate their lives) and guru tip books!


Kyith said...

nice book shelf. wish i had so much space.

athulican said...

All that goes into a thumbdrive.

mm said...

La Pap,

I totally agree that the youngsters have forgotten about the joys of reading. I read about 2-3 books (non fiction books) a week, over and on top of the regular daily stuff like Newspapers, Readers Digest, The Economist etc... I find that it helps broaden my mind. My favorites are books on economics, psychology, investments, self help and parenting.

My son reads about 1-2 books a day. He loves to read. When he was about 2, we started reading about 2-3 books a day to him and that's how we developed his reading habit.

We are fortunate that we live opposite a large regional library. I have stopped buying books now cos' my bookshelves have not enough space for them.

Instead, I borrow my books from NLB and then go out and buy them if I like them so much.

Reading is pure joy.


JW said...

I'm reading Men In White now :)

I love reading CEO and Chairman message to shareholders in Annual Reports too! :)

Musicwhiz said...

Hi LP,

I echo MM's sentiments - reading is a joy!

Right now I am reading "Full of Bull" by Stephen T. McClellan; I guess I don't read as much as you or MM cos time is limited (I spread my time out with my girl) and also because I am quite selective on my book list. I also feel that there is a certain saturation point with regards to investing, so I don't read alot of books on value investing now as there is limited incremental addition to my knowledge base.

Instead, I think I will pursue other subjects like psychology, personal finance and yes, even Science! I read extensively off the Net for nature, space, science, technology, politics, economics and other topics. Books-wise, I am still reading Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, though he's erm dead (Brandon Sanderson is continuing the series, thank goodness!).

My next targeted purchase is Security Analysis 6th Edition, but our book stores are selling it at S$128.40. Would you happen to know how to get it much cheaper? Amazon is selling it for about S$80 (inclusive of shipping) but it takes 30 days and I am afraid it may not fit into my mailbox. :(


la papillion said...

Hi AK,

There's sad...I guess you no longer have the time to sit down and read, I suppose?

Very sad indeed.

la papillion said...

Hi Aspire,

Indeed, I agree with you, it's very sad to hear that people are not reading. There's so much to to derived from reading a gd book.

Do post your comments more often, would like to hear more from you :) Thanks for your encouragement!

la papillion said...

Hi Kanglc,

I guess so..there's just too much distractions to sit down patiently to read from cover to cover.

Regarding the bookshelves, I'm also thinking of having an electronic bookshelves in my harddisk, haha :) But you know, some books need to be physically there. The smell, the feel, the texture...all adds up to the reading pleasure.

la papillion said...

Hi Buggery,

I'm not sure about society as a whole, but from what I observed about the youths, they are certainly not reading. If you go to the library, those who are really there to read are a few. Most are there for the aircon, for the free wifi, or just there for the exams.

Seldom do I see people actually sitting down to read. Especially the children section.

Haha, "useful things"? I believe that all things can be useful, if you make the right linkages to other knowledge. It's good to cover different fields to have different mental models for thinking :)

la papillion said...

Hi Drizzt,

Hmm, I wish so too, but unfortunately, there's not mine! I merely found it online...I really wish to have such wooden bookshelves that span across the whole wall too.

Wonderful sight..not to mention cultural capital + 10 :)

la papillion said...

Hi mm,

Good for you to drop by :) Hey, you remember the influence book that you recommended? My gf bought it and is enjoying it since. Wonderful book she said :)

I'm waiting for her to finish before I begin, haha :)

It's great to live opp the library, I'll probably raid it everyday, haha!

la papillion said...

Hi mw,

Oh, I read 'full of bull' before, pleasant read :) I love those sci and maths books too, always a good read for me :)

I found this place where the shipping is free. Works out to be around 70 sgd. Have a look :)

I'll email you more ;)

Alvin said...

Thanks LP. You have a great list and it's useful for me to find out what I missed.

AK71 said...

Hi LP,

I have time but precious little. I have so many things competing for my time, if you know what I mean.

Reading was a habit for me back in school (on top of what's required in school). I didn't spend much time on the internet, I didn't have a blog (ok, this is a recent thing), I wasn't working and I had less money and could not buy boxes of DVDs. Basically, the leisure activities available to me in the last 10 years have expanded in range with prices falling and my income rising. Lots to choose from.

I force myself to do my weekly read of The Edge and Newsweek. These are periodicals I subscribe to. I have bought so many books in the past few years, fiction and non-fiction, which are waiting to be read. Many are half-read. I also speed read which kills the joy of reading but speed is necessary when I have so much to do. I get the gist and that's it. Remember how quickly I finished the Turtle Traders e-book? ;p Of course, this works only for non-fiction. ;)

Anyway, when I retire, I will be spending a lot more time catching up with my reading. That's for sure. I hope that day is not too far away. :)

la papillion said...

Hi Alvin,

No problemo, though I'm not so sure the list would be of any help. Certain books become impressive I think the order of the books read plays a big part. It's the literal baggage that is carried over from previous reading, haha :)

la papillion said...

Hi AK,

Indeed...there's always a lot of things competing for the same 24 hours that we have each day.

It's such a kill-joy to speed read. I hate it gives a very hollow feeling. About the only thing I speed read are headline news and perhaps financial statements :) Any other stuff, I'll read it and savour it. I just hope that when I've more things to do, I can still keep this up :)

Haha, seems like you have your retirement plans all ready :)

axt said...

My reading habit only starts during my NS day. Nowaday I hardly have any time to read except on my way to and fro work.

Look forward to my next last ICT for more reading luxury :)

la papillion said...

Hi axt,

Haha, for me, it starts to pick up during my NS days :) During schooling, it's really hard to pick up anything to read. I read occasionally only during my secondary school. I first started in primary sch doing greek mythology, haha :)

Indeed...I'm looking forward to my ICT for reading too :)

PanzerGrenadier said...


Indeed, reading is increasing becoming less common. Among my ex-colleagues who are my close buddies, I think I am the only reader among them and partly because my workplace is very near to a library :-)

Reading is indeed one of the most under-rated but important skills we need for personal growth.

la papillion said...

Hi PG,

Oh, you observed that too? Oh my, then it's the truth then...

I just feel that pple need someone there to impart knowledge. It's rather lazy. But I guess that's good for me in my job, haha :)