How to Read: Lots of Inputs and a Strong Filter

Aviral Vaid

Hatched by Aviral Vaid

Aug 19, 2023

3 min read


How to Read: Lots of Inputs and a Strong Filter


In today's information age, the ability to read effectively has become more crucial than ever. But with an overwhelming number of books and resources available, it can be challenging to navigate through the sea of information. This article explores the concept of reading with a strong filter, drawing inspiration from Charlie Munger and Mark Twain. Additionally, we delve into the idea of the Decision Stack and how it can help us make better choices in our reading selections.

The Power of a Low Bar:

Charlie Munger, renowned investor and business partner of Warren Buffett, once shared his approach to reading: "Most books I don't read past the first chapter. I'm not burdened by bad books." This statement emphasizes the importance of having a low bar when it comes to choosing which books to invest our time in. Rather than setting strict criteria, Munger suggests that even the faintest tickle of interest should be enough to make the cut.

By adopting this mindset, we open ourselves up to a wider range of books and ideas. Kindle samples, for instance, offer a risk-free opportunity to explore various genres and authors. With minimal excuses, we can sample books and quickly determine if they resonate with us. If a book fails to capture our attention within the first 10 minutes, it is unlikely to provide a satisfying reading experience. In such cases, it is better to close the book and move on to the next one.

Principles as a Filter:

Beyond the realm of reading, the concept of a strong filter can be applied to decision-making in general. The Decision Stack, a framework for making better choices, emphasizes the importance of having principles that align with our vision and strategy.

Good principles should make our values actionable. They should serve as a guide to answer the questions, "How are we going to build this?" and "Why are we building this?" simultaneously. It is crucial for these principles to be a reflection of both our individual vision and our collective strategy.

Creating Principles from the Bottom Up and Top Down:

Principles should not be solely dictated from the top down; they should be a shared responsibility. By incorporating perspectives from both the bottom up and top down, we can create principles that truly reflect the needs and aspirations of the entire team or organization.

From the bottom up, retrospectives provide an excellent opportunity to discuss recurring debates or discussions. By identifying the trade-offs we regularly encounter and the decisions we have recently said no to, we can distill valuable principles from these experiences.

From the top down, reinforcing our strategy becomes crucial. Articulating acceptable trade-offs as principles helps us understand what will make our strategy successful. By clarifying the trade-offs we are willing to make and the actions we will not take, we can align our principles with our overarching goals.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace a low bar: Be open to exploring a wide range of books and ideas. Even the slightest interest can be the gateway to new knowledge and perspectives.
  • 2. Use Kindle samples wisely: Take advantage of the free samples offered by platforms like Kindle. It allows you to gauge your interest in a book before committing to it fully.
  • 3. Apply the Decision Stack: In decision-making, consider the principles that align with your vision and strategy. Reflect on trade-offs and regularly discuss them to create actionable principles that guide your choices.


Reading effectively requires a strong filter to navigate through the vast amount of available information. By adopting a low bar and embracing even the faintest interest, we can expand our horizons and discover new ideas. Additionally, the Decision Stack framework reminds us of the importance of aligning our principles with our vision and strategy. By incorporating perspectives from the bottom up and top down, we can create principles that guide our decision-making effectively. So, embrace the power of a strong filter, and let it enhance your reading experience and decision-making process.

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