I justtttt stumbled upon this blog entry he made back in his single days. He had created a blog entitled "The Shortcuttologist", in which he gives practical advice on how to go about life more efficiently. If this isn't funny, I don't know what is....
"Recently I found myself at a gathering of older, distinguished, scholarly gentleman. Not the kind who wear turtlenecks under blazers, smoke pipes, sit in a weathered leather chair and ponder deep thoughts in their study…but very close. Either way, the men were extremely well read and seemed to be getting great pleasure one-upping each other with vignettes about various books in their mental arsenal. I, on the other hand, have never been an avid reader. Needless to say their conversations about things like early American invention and the Wright Brothers flew 30,000 feet over my head. If you were watching from the outside you would have seen four or five men laughing and taking turns sharing thoughts (them) while one young man carefully listened, attempting to precisely time his facial expressions and phony chuckles (me). I think I even once took a deep breath and opened my mouth, pretending like I wanted to interject something, but couldn’t quite squeeze it in before the next expert carried on.
Now, I don’t enjoy feeling like the undereducated outsider. In addition, I could foresee a potential future problem: I’m chumming it up with clients or my career superiors who are having a similar book-related discussion and somebody puts me on the spot, “Matt what are your thoughts on the latest Grisham novel?”…crickets… silence…crickets… “What’s that? You don’t have a freakin’ clue? Who’s John Grisham? No problem, clean out your desk on Monday and kindly remove yourself from this group.” Ok, probably not that extreme, but what a fantastic situation for Opportunistic Shortcutting (the method of wisely using shortcuts to your advantage)! Thus, I have developed a novel idea where, instead of READING books, one can simply read ABOUT books.
This idea makes all kinds of sense in my head. If my goal is to conversationally hang with well read intellects, why would I spend hours upon hours actually READING books when there are myriad resources for reading ABOUT books? Before we peruse the available resources, let me provide a simple mathematical rationale for engaging in this breakthrough behavior. The average person reads 200-400 words per minute. Therefore, a typical 300 page book will take the average person just over four hours to read, in one sitting. Contrast this with the result you could get by investing four hours reading ABOUTbooks. My guess is that you could hammer out eight or nine popular titles. That’s a nine to one ratio! Most lifelong readers would be impossible for a young whippersnapper to match in terms of sheer number of books read. But, at the rate of nine books to one book, there is hope for the under-read. It's like racing a toddler in the 100 yard dash. Look out argyle clad library nerds, we are catching up faster than Buck and his team pulling the mail sled across the Yukon (if you don't understand the metaphor, read about Call of the Wild).
How can I deliver, though, on the nine to one ratio? I decided to put my idea to the test. The internet, as with most other fields, is your key to quick and advanced uptake of information. Thanks to the advent of sites like Wikipedia.com, SparkNotes.com, BookRags.com, etc. a person can now view plot summaries, character analysis, author biographies, and read discussion boards. There is, in essence, a free crash course on most books right at your fingertips. Just last night (true story) I made it through some of the classics: The Old Man and the Sea, The Great Gatsby, Grapes of Wrath and Oliver Twist to name a few. You know how long it took me? Around two hours...right on pace. And with the quizzes on SparkNotes.com you can even role play a future discussion opportunity. Next time the book group assembles guess who will be taking the lead?
Me: 'So Bill, what are your thoughts about Dickens’ approach to Victorian stereotypes?'
Bill: 'Well in my opinion…'
Me: 'Yeah that’s great. In his assertion that poverty and vice are fundamentally connected, I feel that Dickens forces us to evaluate our own prejudice that people are supposedly bad from birth. How can we get involved to positively impact less fortunate people? After all, Oliver Twist’s greatest inheritance was not money, but relationship.'
Please know that I understand and respect the experience of reading, how it sets the table for unmatched imagination and takes the mind on an academic journey. In fact, since writing this I have consistently increased the number of books I read (actually read…not read ABOUT).But, if the purpose is to appear an accomplished bookworm, then reading ABOUT books is the most efficient tactic. It is an ideal assignment for Opportunistic Shortcutting. Oh, and if you want to bypass hundreds of pages in that bestselling novel on the shelf, just wait a few months. The movie will be pretty similar, you only have to invest two hours of precious time, you can discuss it with other people,and you won't have to read a single word!"
Isn't he an incredible writer? Love you honey!