Audiobook season: Taleb’s Antifragile

antifragile-e1357363505650My reading habit has been weak lately, so I’m going to supplement with audiobooks. I’ve been listening to nothing but podcasts while I drive, so it will be simple to switch in some audiobooks. And there will be plenty of drive time over the next few weeks around the holiday to make good progress.

My first audiobook will be Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragile. I’ve been intrigued with this book for a while but had only downloaded a sample until today. It’s about the value of disorder and stressors and uncertainty. You don’t want to just be able to withstand difficulty; you want the difficulty to make you stronger. You want to be the opposite of fragile. You want to become antifragile.

I’ve started listening and can already tell that Taleb’s provocative writing style and counterintuitive approach will make for a worthwhile read/listen.

This theme, embracing uncertainty and disorder, is right in my Stoic wheelhouse. A Stoic sage would purposely take on hardship – forgoing food or shelter for a short time, for example – in order to strengthen his appreciation for what he has. A daily cold shower (which is actually part of my morning routine) or regularly visualizing the loss of what you hold most dear are the kinds of strategies a Stoic might pursue to steel himself and strengthen his character.

I’m looking forward to seeing how well a challenging topic like this takes hold by listening rather than reading.

Always have a poet in your pocket.

John Adams advised his son to “always have a poet in your pocket”, to be prepared to make good use of found reading time. With our technology, we’ve got no good excuse for not always having quality information at hand. Whether it’s a conventional book or e-book or audiobook, fill your mind with wisdom and insight and occasional doses of contrariness from smart people. And if you get stuck in a rut of not finding time to sit and read, give an audiobook a chance.