Issue #18: Reading

First, I apologize for the late issue. My fiancé and I moved into a new apartment this weekend and have been spending the last week getting things ready and are still in the process of settling at the new place.

Moving always presents an opportunity to get rid of things I don’t need and, frequently, didn’t even know I had. I don’t think I have a lot of stuff, but I certainly have less now than a few days ago. I found mail yet to be tossed, dozens of extra pens, old books I enjoyed, and others I didn’t. Sifting through all the books and papers made me think about how and what I choose to read.

When I was a kid I loved reading books, especially thick ones. There were many nights my parents caught me reading late into the night with my nightlight on and a book propped on my chest. When I left for college, I nearly stopped reading books entirely. I just didn’t have the extended periods of time to myself conducive to reading books. Instead I read blog posts, newsletters, Tweets, interviews, and listened to podcasts. Now I read a mixture between the two groups, with books holding a minority share.

While I have a book or two going at any one period of time (most recently The Outsiders and Midnight at Chernobyl), I’ve found a few characteristics to blogs and newsletters that I prefer over books. First, there are virtually no barriers to publishing writing online. This not only means I can find high quality reading quickly, but there are more professionals to choose from. Low barriers to writing online means many of my favorite investors and thinkers have an online database of their thoughts I can read. And with new tools like Substack, writing online is easier than ever.

Second, writing online gives writers the ability to choose what they write and vary the timeliness of their writing. There are some investors who frequently write about financial events that are fascinating and up-to-date while others write about evergreen topics and take their time publishing.

Third, blogs are easier to read (can be read on any device with an internet connection) and share with others. In my Capital Notes below, I haven’t listed a single book. If I did, you would have to go find the book, order it, wait for it to arrive, read it, then determine the value of the information. With blogs you click the link, read within a few minutes, and get to the valuable information quicker. Ideas in blogs travel faster and there’s inherent value to speed and reduced friction.

All this to say, I love reading but over the years I’ve shifted to online sources rather than books. It’s not clear what the right mix and strategy is going forward, I don’t know what the right answer is. I’d love to hear about your mix and how you choose to read, please feel free to reach out and share.

Capital Notes

  • Here’s my biweekly plug for Tim Ludwig on Twitter. His tweets are simply fantastic and I learn a ton following him. If you don’t have a Twitter account, I highly recommend creating one and following him immediately.

  • Dan McMurtrie (@SuperMugatu) wrote a fantastic annual letter for his hedge fund Tyro Partners. His writing has quickly become must-read material for me.

  • Following up on hedge funds, Scott Miller at Greenhaven Road Capital released his Q4 letter which was excellent as usual. For the curious, my favorite hedge funds to read are Greenhaven Road, Tyro Partners, and Askeladden Capital.

  • My favorite quote from Vicki Boykis’s article titled Good Things Don’t Scale: “The answer is, I’ve realized, that it is hard to scale systems that are based on humans.”

  • Will Schoeberlein wrote a great article about Indutrade, a Nordic SMB serial acquirer.

  • Mikel Berger wrote a great article about due diligence in response to questions on Twitter.

  • For those who didn’t make it to Capital Camp last year, they’ve been posting videos of a few presentations including those by Dan Rasmussen, Michael Mauboussin, and Josh Wolfe. All three are fantastic.

If you found an interesting article, podcast, or interview that I missed, please let me know, I’m always looking for interesting stuff.

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