Probably not. Will you remember anything you read a week from now? Of course.
If you read 25 articles this week, which ones will you remember next week? Of those articles you remember, what percentage will you remember? What ideas will you remember?
Now what about a year from now? What stands the test of time?
Malcolm Gladwell talks about going to the library for research in his writing course on Master Class1. He talks about research and using older sources:
Another mistake people make is they assume that if something is not current, it’s not useful. Nothing could be further from the truth. Right? In fact, I almost feel like the better stuff is the older stuff. Particular the stuff that has stood the test of time.
Here are some things that make me think of standing the test of time.
- Getting Things Done (by David Allen) is standing the test of time of self-development material. I re-read it recently (a decade after I first read it) and had so many moments where I thought, “Oh yeah… that’s why I do it this way now.” There are things that I still do almost directly from the book (Stopping to think “What’s the next action?” if I’m blocked on a project) and things that were heavily influenced by it (Setting reminders like a tickler file to review certain things a few months down the road).
- But What if We’re Wrong (by Chuck Klosterman) made me realize just how little is actually remembered as you get further and further out in time. People basically only remember Babe Ruth from 100 years ago. Then again, with technology we’ll be able to remember everything. Which might make it even harder to stand out. Twenty years from now, think of the word “Jordan”. If you’re 20-40 years old in 2040, will you think of him flying through the air, getting your first pair after standing in line somewhere, or a crying face? Do you care about players and games you didn’t actually watch? Maybe, but not as much as games you watched as they were happening.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People (by Dale Carnegie) stood the test of time. Never forget that it has a sentence starting with “Charles Schwab told me…” The lessons in the book will remain relevant for as long as people enjoy talking about themselves.
If you read enough self-development books you start to see the same things referenced. Eventually you realize that most (not all) of these new books are some version of a book written in the 80s which is some version of a book written in the 60s and on and on.
Go read something old.