Posted by: donmihaihai | June 29, 2008

On reading.

It is just so unthinkable that I have been reading alot for a long period as my standard of English does not really allow me to fully understand on what is on the paper and book. But well, this is the side effect or benefit that I gain from investing which has an unbreakable link to reading as one can’t get to improve investing skill without a great amount of reading and learning. So I bet I will be reading more and more and it is possible that in not too distance future, I might go back and re-learn the language of English. Hmmm… Let see if I will go into that path.

After a long break in the 1st half of 2008 where I tried to spend more time to gather a paper so that I have a better advantage in job seeking in the not too distance future, I jump straight back to reading book again. And I have not been reading on how to invest, buy stock or value investing for quite some time. The last two books that I read related to the subject of investing are “The Dhandho Investor” and “Financial Shenanigans”. I have been reading less and less on this subject even before that because I finally recognised that investing or value investing is like a door, once I entered, I already has the nearest thing to holy grail in investing and there is no point wondering around searching on how and the exact method because there aren’t any out there. The prerequisite for investing is actually English and accounting which I already acquired, poorly learnt is the correct words. From there onward, the fields of knowledge are so wide that it is impossible to learn just by reading on a narrow subject like how to invest. After wondering around on book of other subjects for some time I start to appreciate it because I somehow become better as compare to before. It is the ability to bring knowledge from elsewhere improve my skill on investing not the other way around or just say I am able to walk rather than crawling.

And I am not going to stop doing what I have been doing because like Charlie Munger said, like having my hand chop off. “Poor Charlie’s Almanack” is the book that tears open my brain and this book is for the top small percentage of all human which is not where I belong to. Reading it the second time, with a lap of about 2 years, after seeing some results from my reading as wide as possible(I hope so), I still don’t understand at least half of the whole damn book. It is not that it is a useless book, just that I am not at that level of intelligent and knowledge to grab it. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to gain an advantage to your age cohort.

Usually I do not know what and how much I will gain before reading any book. More interesting is re-read the same book after some time lap because knowledge acquire from elsewhere. Just like I get a better grab of “Twilight in the desert” on the re-read after I finished on books like “The Prize : The Epic Quest for oil, money and power”, “Titan”, “When the rivers run dry”, “The War of the world” and “Collapse”. Individually, each book is wonderful, wide with little connection as “The Prize : The Epic Quest for oil, money and power” is the history of oil up to 1990, “Titan” is the biography of John D. Rockefeller which is also the history of early American oil production , “When the rivers run dry” is about water, underground water which has direct effect on the production of crude oil, “The War of the world” tell alot on Jewish and “Collapse” which is on the fell of societies put a link on why we are using crude oil in the way where there is only one word stupidity when look backward. When put together, the effect is extraordinary or perhaps it is just extraordinary for me. Not just on crude oil, book like “Collapse” and “When the rivers run dry” teach me more about agriculture than I could learn elsewhere and it will be of great help when I am looking at agriculture companies because the main costs of those companies will not appeared in the accounting of expenses of the companies. It is the limitation of accounting rather that there are no such expenses.

The reason why I write this post is because I have finished “Guns, Germs, and Steel” by Jared Diamond which happen to also the author of “Collapse” or just take it as I am bullshitting here :). It is such a great book that why it took me so long before I finally read it, I means Charlie Munger has been pushing it for other to read with great efforts. This book is about the human history from about 7 millions year ago to now. I won’t try to write anything that from the book because it will be a disservice to any would be reader. The greatness of “Guns, Germs, and Steel” is not only that he bring us to a tour of human history by the foundation that he lays, it is the ways he the ways he do it, written within 500 pages. It is like watching a grand master demonstrating his multi-disciplinary skills on the subject of human history. It take me quite some time to finish it not because it is hard to read but because I keep wonder out on other subjects and companies, that slow me down. If I can just do even half of what Jared Diamond has demonstrated, I think I will have a very bright future and fruitful life because I don’t see people around me showing and using a wide range of multi-disciplinary skills.

Beside the point of me bullshitting and whatsoever, I think “Guns, Germs, and Steel” is the book for everybody. I know there is quite a number of Singaporean visiting my blog so I write about it and I hope more will read it. Even thought how much one can get out of this book is different, net-net everyone should be better after reading it besides knowing more about human history.

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