You Are What You Read, Even If You Don’t Always Remember It

Here’s Dave Rupert (from my notes):

the goal of a book isn’t to get to the last page, it’s to expand your thinking.

I have to constantly remind myself of this. Especially in an environment that prioritizes optimizing and maximizing personal productivity, where it seems if you can’t measure (let alone remember) the impact of a book in your life then it wasn’t worth reading.

I don’t believe that, but I never quite had the words for expressing why I don’t believe that. Dave’s articulation hit pretty close.

Then a couple days later my wife sent me this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.


Damn, great writers are sO gOOd wITh wORdz, amirite?

Emerson articulates with acute brevity something I couldn’t suss out in my own thoughts, let alone put into words. It makes me jealous.

Anyhow, I wanted to write this down to reinforce remembering it.

And in a similar vein for the online world: I cannot remember the blog posts I’ve read any more than the meals I’ve eaten; even so, they’ve made me.

It’s a good reminder to be mindful of my content diet — you are what you eat read, even if you don’t always remember it.

Update 2024-04-12 shared this story in response, which I really liked:

At the university I had a professor who had a class with us in the first year and then in the second. At the beginning of the second year’s classes he asked us something from the material of previous year. When met with silence he nodded thoughtfully and said: “Education is something you have even if you don't remember anything”

I love stories that stick with people like that, e.g. “something a teacher told me once...”

Some impact is immeasurable.