What was one of my favorite things to do as a kid?

Nerd that I am, I loved reading the encyclopedia! We had a full set of The World Book Encyclopedia that my grandmother had bought for us.

I would just pick out a volume and open it up at random. I’m sure my search was not actually random – I was a kid. So I probably looked a lot at, say F-T in the alphabet, and mostly looked in the middle of those volumes. Although I definitely remember some excursions to the opening of each volume, where they explained the origins of the letters.

At this point, more than 50 years later, I don’t remember any specific thing or article from all that encyclopedic reading. But some of it must have stuck, right?

This was mostly when I was between 7 and 9. I know the dates because it’s when we lived in San Diego, and we moved there when I was six, and moved away when I was 9. My 10th birthday party was in Mendocino.

I had just learned to read, so I was at least six, in first grade. And I doubt I could have read much of the encyclopedia in first grade, so it must have been after that. But even as a 7-year-old, there’s no way I could have been comprehending much of what I was seeing in those volumes.

But I’ve always remembered “reading the encyclopedia” as a defining activity that I did.

I had another book at the time that I also loved reading, called “Tell Me Why” by Arkady Leokum. You can still get it, or a version of it. A big thick book (of course, I was 7 at the time, so how big could it have been?) full of answers to questions like “Why do we eat?” and “Why does Saturn have rings?”

I was always ferociously learning, in those days and still today.

However, my pace of reading has slackened recently.

I’m finding reading to be less fulfilling than I used to – but partly that’s because so much of what’s on my pile to read – my tsundoku, a word I just learned two weeks ago for the pile of books you intend to read – is serious stuff, business stuff.

Books I have to pay attention to, that are “worth my time,” and that will “help me be more successful.”

That is, not necessarily fun. Not like flipping through the encyclopedia until I find an interesting entry – Tropical Birds – with pictures of toucans and bower birds.

About the author

Your host and author, Nils Davis, is a long-time product manager, consultant, trainer, and coach. He is the author of The Secret Product Manager Handbook, many blog posts, a series of video trainings on product management, and the occasional grilled pizza.

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