Here’s what I mean. I am frequently asked “what is the best book you have ever read?” And then, at times, this question is asked: “what is the best book you have read on the subject of ____________________?”
I do have some answers:
The best book I have ever read is Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
Or, maybe, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
The best book I have ever read about time management is: Getting Things Done by David Allen.
The best book I have ever read on racial issues is: as of this moment, How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. (But I’m pretty sure that I am going to switch that answer to Caste by Isabel Wilkerson in about three weeks).
But, here’s the deal. I am not a literary critic. I am a simple learner. I do read some books for fun and enjoyment, but I mainly read books to learn. To learn in specific areas. And to help others learn from these books.
And what I have learned is that if your purpose in reading books is to learn, though there may be one “best book on _________________,” one book, even the best book, is never enough.
For example, this month, I am reading The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap by Mehrsa Baradan. (I will present my synopsis of this at the Urban Engagement Book Club, sponsored by CitySquare, on Nov. 19). Is it the best book I have read on racial issues? No. But is it important? Yes, it is.
I am learning some history that I did not know well enough. And I am learning a lot about the long-term strategies of people in power – white people — to keep Black people segregated, generally down. And I am even learning about their strategies to use (abuse) Black people as a means to maximize wealth by using Black people as a major source of money accumulation; all without Black people being given a fair chance to be full participants in the endeavors.
In other words, this book is filling in knowledge gaps that I had, and did not know that I had.
This has happened to me time and time again. I will read a book. It is a good book; or, at times, even a mediocre book. But it has something in it that I did not know, and it is something that I needed to know.
You know that phrase “life-long learner?” Take that phrase literally. Learning is LIFE-LONG! You have not yet read the book that would make you say: “OK. That one did it. Now I know enough about everything I should know.”
There is always the next book to read, because there is always the next thing to learn.
Your questions are:
What am I learning right now?
What will I want and need to learn next?