How to Read More: The Simple System I’m Using to Read 30+ Books Per Year

Warren Buffett, the man commonly referred to as the greatest investor of the 20th century, was standing in front of 165 wide-eyed students from Columbia University.

One of the students raised his hand and asked Buffett for his thoughts on the best way to prepare for an investing career. After thinking for a moment, Buffett pulled out a stack of papers and trade reports he had brought with him and said, 

“Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” 

Buffett estimates that 80 percent of his working hours are spent reading or thinking. It’s enough to make you ask, 

“Am I reading enough books?”

When I asked myself that question recently, I realized that there were some simple reasons I wasn’t reading as much as I would like to, and I developed a reasonable system that is helping me read more than 30 books per year.

Let me explain…

Keep reading


Continuing our series on the Ozarks, this slim volume is from the library of John G. Neihardt and was written by Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey.  Mahnkey was born in 1877 into a family of avid readers and writers.  She and her siblings sought out books and education for themselves even though reading material was scarce in the Ozarks. With support from her parents, Mahnkey completed high school and went on to finish courses in an area teachers’ college and business school.  After getting married, she ran a household, had four children, served as a postmaster, and helped her husband keep a store.  She wrote a monthly column as a rural correspondent to the Springfield newspapers for 18 years. See this article from the local history section of the Springfield-Greene County Library to learn more about her life.

Mahnkey was also a poet, and looking through this little collection, I’m struck by her keen sense of the beauty and tragedy of her Ozark surroundings. In her poems, roadside wildflowers bloom and fall color lights up the hills, but nameless babies also cry in ramshackle cabins, and child-sized coffins are a recurring theme.  Mahnkey’s poems are more complex than they appear to be at first reading.  As John Neihardt notes in his foreword, “here and there throughout the collection, a warm, soft light breaks through, lives briefly in phrase or line, and then is lost.”

Mahnkey, Mary Elizabeth, 1877-1948.  Ozark lyrics / by Mary Elizabeth Mahnkey. [Springfield, Mo.] : [Sunshine Press], [1934]  MU Ellis Special Collections J.G. Neihardt PS3525.A412 O9 1934


I got carried away with the photography on this one, especially considering that (yet again) most of these are more diagram than map, but hey! They’re really neat.

Kircher’s work is elaborately and beautifully illustrated, and well worth a more thorough look. You can see find more info and images here and here.

BookKircher, Athanasius. Athanasii Kircheri … Mundus subterraneus, in XII libros digestus; quo divinum subterrestris mundi opificium, mira ergasteriorum naturæ in eo distributio, verbo pantámorphou Protei regnum, universæ denique naturæ majestas & divitiæ summa rerum varietate exponuntur. Abditorum effectuum causæ acri indagine inquisitæ demonstrantur; cognitæ per artis & naturæ conjugium ad humanæ vitæ necessarium usum vario experimentorum apparatu, necnon novo modo, & ratione applicantur. Amstelodami, apud J. Janssonium & E. Weyerstraten, 1665.

  • Working Man
  • Rush

Happy Birthday, Geddy Lee!

Geddy Lee Weinrib (b. July 29, 1953), known professionally as Geddy Lee, is a Canadian musician, singer and songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist, bassist, and keyboardist for the Canadian rock group Rush. Learn more about this 2013 Inductee at the Library and Archives!

Audio clip: Rush, “Working Man,” recorded at the Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 26, 1974. From the Frederick S. Boros Audio Recordings.

WEIRD FORMAT WEDNESDAY: Compositions 1961, Fluxus Special Editions - La Monte Young, 1963

La Monte Young was often regarded as 

The first minimalist composer

He was born October 14, 1935 and is 79 years old.  As an avant garde composer, musician and artist, he created a large body of work.  Young collaborated with Yoko Ono and George Maciunas of Fluxus, contributing works for publication in Fluxus compilations.

This tiny book measures 9 x 10cm.  

Find it in the catalog

Want to learn more about this piece?   Check out Title: Draw a straight line and follow it : the music and mysticism of La Monte Young by Jeremy Neal Grimshaw

Find more La Monte Young materials in our rare art book collection!


if i hand you myself by the spine and ask that you read me, please read me.
read the worries that i’ve etched into my forehead and the poetry that has dried like white roses between my teeth, 
scrape secrets off the bottom of my tongue.
please, don’t stop reading, and 
don’t think you know what will happen
before you turn the next page,
just turn the next page.

i don’t loan myself out to many people.
though i believe in libraries,  i wouldn’t want to live in one.
my lungs are filled with too much dust already. my heart is tattered. it’s like even my close friends have no respect for books these days.

i’ve been dog-eared, scribbled in, and teacoffeevodkatear-stained.
i’m like a bible, but no one thinks of me as holy.
(i’m like a bible. i am holy.)
ripped pages, torn out, cut out, pinned up,
i’m like a magazine sometimes–
something cheap and disposable.

what you get from me is yours to keep,
but i will change you one way or another.
i want to change you, one way
or another.

i’d like for you to read
not just the words clearly printed, but the ones that smear together.
decipher my ink stains. it will tell you more about yourself
than it will tell you about me, but it’s important to imagine people complexly.
it’s important to think about others like yourself.
we are written with the same hand but a different pen.
my words will shape you like your thumbprints will shape me.

if i ask you to read me, do not seek a meaning that isn’t there.
do not look to learn how to love me. you won’t find anything.
i don’t know how to love myself.

i am aware that it might not mean much to you now
should i hand you a copy of my soul,
but please read it anyway.

—  On Loan // a.l.h. // 7-29-15

“And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.” 

― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
With 10,699 books printed, Windsor library’s self-publishing machine is a hit
Sue Perry likens her role at the Windsor Public Library to that of a midwife. Perry runs the main library’s self-publishing Espresso Book Machine...

“These people have worked on this work for months and years and years and they bring me this file on a flash drive and I plug it into the machine and (these) Willy Wonka noises happen and out pops a book. And you hand the book to them and it’s still warm,” Perry said Monday of a moment that often involves tears of joy.

“They hold what they’ve been working on forever in their hands and you just see their face change. Their dream is now in their hands.”

Fresh-baked books! Anyone who goes on and on about libraries being made obsolete by the internet needs to take a look at some of the stuff libraries are actually doing.

Are You the Dimber Mot of a Diddle Cove? Slang Words of the Week #11

Enjoy this latest entry in the slang of yore by one of our great student library assistants!

It’s time for week eleven of slang words from 18th and 19th century slang dictionaries.

Diddle is such a great sounding word, and the best part about having words with multiple meanings is making sentences out of them. “You diddled me out of diddle at the diddle cove!” 

Here’s a neat new compliment to add to your vocabulary. Try telling someone they look very dimber. Also, dimber damber is quite fun to say.

Not to be confused with eavesdroppers, who listen in on private conversations, eve droppers will steal your chickens. 

Thanks for reading, and be sure to check back next week for more slang words!
271 Years Before Pantone, an Artist Mixed and Described Every Color Imaginable in an 800-Page Book
"In 1692 an artist known only as "A. Boogert" sat down to write a book in Dutch about mixing watercolors."

“Spanning nearly 800 completely handwritten (and painted) pages, Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau, was probably the most comprehensive guide to paint and color of its time. According to Medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel who translated part of the introduction, the color book was intended as an educational guide. The irony being there was only a single copy that was probably seen by very few eyes.

It’s hard not to compare the hundreds of pages of color to its contemporary equivalent, the Pantone Color Guide, which wouldn’t be published for the first time until 1963.”

The entire book is viewable in high resolution here, and you can read a description of it here (it appears E-Corpus might have crashed for the moment). The book is currently kept at the Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France. (via @erikkwakkel)” - via Colossal 


For her entry into the biannual Sculpture by the Sea in Aarhus, Denmark, Swedish artist Susanna Hesselberg installed this ominous library that plumments into the ground like a mining shaft. While visually arresting, the piece has a somewhat somber intention. Titled “When My Father Died It Was Like a Whole Library Had Burned Down,” the artwork makes reference to lyrics from Laurie Anderson’s song World Without End. The piece joins an additional 55 sculptures on display right now at the 2015 Sculpture by the Sea through July 5, 2015. (via Hyperallergic)