When you open the Amazon online bookstore, you’re hit with numerous filters, categories, and recommendations. Currently, there are about 4 sections of books Amazon thinks I’d be interested in on my Kindle bookstore. That’s all great because the probability that I’ll like the book I buy is greater than if I just see a random set of books.
On the other hand, by reading only what Amazon recommends to us, we’re limiting ourselves by default. We eventually start reading the same things over and over again, written in a slightly different way.
Just take a look at the financial books section. Pretty much every book tells us to start a business that will make us millions while we sleep, or to invest what we don’t spend in the stock market. The vast majority of them talk about this in a slightly different way.
Now imagine going into a bookstore. No algorithms or personalized recommendations, maybe only a few exposed bestsellers. It’s way easier to find books you wouldn’t read otherwise.
The other day I stumbled upon an interesting series of short history books that I intend to read. Last summer, when I wanted to cash in a voucher in a bookstore, I discovered Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed, which I currently really enjoy reading. There’s a pretty slim chance I’d intentionally start searching for history books or stumble upon Rebel Ideas on Kindle.
There’s also a way to use the internet and avoid the algorithms to discover new books. Read what the people you admire also read. A lot of them are sharing their book recommendations online - just try Tim Ferriss, Naval Ravikant, Warren Buffett, Peter Thiel and others. There’s also a brilliant website called Most Recommended Books where you can discover books that successful people recommend. A great Instagram account is also Library Mindset.
This principle can be applied in every way possible. Avoid the recommended series on Netflix, products on Amazon and posts on Instagram. Step out of the bubble. Not using these platforms is too radical, but relying entirely on their recommendations for discovering content is nonsense. Invite some serendipity into your life and get a different substrate. Then you become different from the rest.