I've been reading this book, Antifragile, for almost four weeks. I call it reading. I've turned all the pages. I've read all the words. That's reading, right?
Or is it?
I started off pretty well, somehow managing to get my brain around the whole idea of antifragile, a word the author, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, admits he made up. There is no real word in English that properly names this idea. Everyone understands the idea of fragile, something that is destroyed when stressed. But the opposite of fragile is more than just something that survives difficulties. Antifragility, Taleb tells us, is the idea of a phenomenon that goes beyond mere resilience; antifragility is the idea of something that actually improves with difficulties and uncertainty.
I'm high-five-ing him, right and left...love this idea of antifragile, Taleb.
That was the Prologue, however. Round about the second or third page of Chapter 1, I find that I'm reading along, with no idea what Mr. Taleb is explaining. He tries, he really does, and now and then I read a paragraph and think I'm back on the highway. The Soviet-Harvard Department of Ornithology, for example. (How well do I know that department, the people who lecture to birds about proper techniques for flying, observe and write reports about the birds' flying abilities, and then seek funding to ensure that the lectures will continue!) But, soon I'm back driving in the dark again.
I don't know if I really read this book. Can I add it to my 2013 Book Log? Does it count? Please don't ask me to summarize it or outline it or (heaven forbid!) don't test me on it.
But if I didn't really read it, why did I like it so much? And why can't I stop thinking about it?
Maybe what I did when I read Antifragile was antireading. Maybe antireading is the kind of reading where you turn the pages and read the words, but understand only a smidgen of what's there, and then you think about it for weeks, and come back to the book again and again, and maybe try to reread it, and it tweaks your map about this life, even through you really didn't understand much of what you read to begin with.
Maybe antireading is the best kind of reading of all.
Wilma Rudolph, born prematurely, 20th of 22 kids, had polio when she was four,
and went on to become one of the world's greatest runners:
Wilma Rudolph is antifragile, I think.