Learning, the act of gaining knowledge, is a craft unto itself. It starts with questions - the what ifs, how abouts, whys, . . . leading from the unknown to the known, through inquiry, experimentation, travel, and of course pure accident.

This is about how it happens in my life.

"Readin' is good for ya" *

There is something tragic in the concept of "not reading". I don't mean illiterate: can't read.  That too is a tragedy, with potentially catastrophic results.
But choosing not to read, as in "Oh, I don't read" or "Reading is boring" or "Why bother?" . . . that is a sadness beyond sad.  It's one of those things I can understand, yet is incomprehensible to me at the same time.
Of course an appreciation of reading develops through positive experiences in a range of settings.  The habit of reading needs to be modeled and molded, cultivating a sense of inquisitiveness, and finding enjoyment by diving into the world of words.  Audio books, other alternative formats, ebooks and print: it's all reading.

Me, I love reading. My Mom could have written the book on raising a reader.  And my Dad was always impressed when he came home to a smudge of newspaper ink on my face, even if it was only from the funny pages. Both my Grandpas like to write, and most of the family loved Scrabble. Words, and reading, were all around me, every day: novels, cookbooks, newspapers, encyclopedias, dictionaries, games, first aid training manuals with rather gory pictures, trips to the library, and of course children's books of all kinds.   Endless amounts of information. I learned to browse at an early age and was always rewarded for my curiosity with some nugget of knowledge.

Reading is a gateway to learning, acquiring knowledge, gaining perspective.  Exposure to new ideas throughout life hones critical thinking skills, keeps us sharp. It's like living out the Socratic Method.
I've developed some specific online reading habits over the years, hitting various news sites and blogs almost daily.  One site I've really enjoyed (wish I could remember where I first learned of it!) is The Big Picture blog, written by Barry Ritholtz.  He's an equity analyst, author and a pretty smart guy, as far as I'm concerned.  He works with FusionIQ , a successful quant firm.**
The whole point of quantitative analysis is objectivity: find the relevant data points through testing and modeling and create a strategy based on the results.  It is an iterative process, requiring the ability to change course when circumstances warrant.  Check your bias at the door.
He regularly posts what he calls a LinkFest, and yesterday's subtitle reminded me again why this site first caught my attention.  Go check it out.

With more materials available than ever before, and opportunities to explore the knowledge accumulated over centuries in ways only imagined in science fiction, it seems impossible not to find something.
Yes indeed, reading is good for you.

*Barry Ritholtz on The Big Picture Blog April 19, 2011. 
** I have no relationship whatsoever to this firm

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