Library Notes

July 20, 2020 • #

Jumping off from my Friday post on literature notes, I’ve taken the first step here in what will hopefully become something more meaningful over time.

I just finished up filtering back through all my highlights and notes on Matt Ridley’s How Innovation Works over the weekend. Part of what this process helped me figure out is a standard model for organizing literature notes by section, so if I publish the complete notes, they’ll be browsable by part and chapter of any book I have notes for.

Book notes

All I’ve got up right now are Summary and Key Takeaways sections. I’m going to make myself put together both of these on any book with published notes, which will require deep thinking to distill the content of the book into a few paragraphs and bullet points. Again, I want to publish my key learnings here, not necessarily a complete synopsis or review. Reviews have a different place on the blog, and I’ll still be doing those separately from this.

I like this idea and think it’s something I‘ll enjoy doing. The forcing function of having to write sensible, consumable notes not just for myself, but for others should lead to better thinking. The effort to build coherent notes should be useful for others and create an archive I can openly reference in future writing. The long-term vision here is to eventually draw connections between books, making references between ideas for deeper insights. And if others learn something along the way from my effort, that’ll be fantastic.

If the work is in the open, it’ll make it better and more polished, though polish isn’t a hard requirement. I’m just hopeful that others may find it useful.

“But what about fiction books?” you ask? Or books that are shallow, or simply not good? That’s easy: no one’s making me go through this process for every book. Over time, if there are books in the library that have no published notes, that should speak their value and worthiness. I tend to have pretty discerning taste for what I’m willing to spend time on, so some books may get “read” enough to determine they don’t need to be on the shelf. I do plan on making notes on fiction, but we’ll see how that works out.

I have some other ideas in store for this later on. This is just a start.