I’m intrigued by Elon Musk’s concept of Tree of Knowledge. He says, “it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e., the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”
Vishal Khandelway created a helpful illustration to explain the difference between the trunk, branches, and leaves.
The trunk. Start here and build your foundational principles by reading biographies, history books, philosophy and other non-fiction.
The branches. These are podcasts, medium posts, new best seller books on Amazon, Op-eds in the Atlantic, NYT, Washington Post, etc.
The leaves. These are random tweets and Facebook posts. Back in the age of newspapers, these used to be Letters to the Editor. These are mostly noise.
Spend your time on the trunk and the branches. The leaves are seductive but don’t build help your build foundational principle that acts as your guidelines for making decisions.
Always start with your principles.
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl – This is a book you can read over an over again. It’s about how we cannot avoid suffering, but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and live a full life.
True Grit by Charles Portis. It’s an old-school Western story. Read the book and then watch the Coen Brother’s movie after reading the book.
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. If you read Sci-Fi and enjoyed Dune, then you’ll enjoy this book. It’s the first Chinese Sci-fi book I’ve read and will definitely go back for more.
A Life Worth Breathing – Max Strom. It’s a practical life guide to applying yoga and meditation to real life.
Artemis – Andy Weir. Follow up to the Martian. Old fashioned action story set on our moon.
The Dude and the Zen Master – Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman. It’s a conversation between Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman on all things Zen. Maybe you’ve been too afraid to ask in the past or have been expected to know, this book covers all those kinds of questions.
Illusions by Richard Bach. I recommend reading this book every year. It’ll offer up something new every time. Gets better as I get older.
FDR by Jean Edward Smith – This is a reminder that politics has always been a contact sport in the United States. It’ll give you hope in 2018. The past is prologue.
Season of the Witch by David Talbot – Give this book to anyone who complains that San Francisco has changed too much over the last decade. The book explains how the only constant in San Francisco is that it’s changing and that’s what makes it so great.
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry – Probably the best Western I’ve read. Epic.