“Randy, can you tell me the best book on _______?” – No, I can’t! And here’s why

The best book? It's a mystery...
The best book? It’s a mystery…

This is a question I am asked with some frequency. “Can you tell me the best book on ____________?” I can never answer this question. And, without putting any one down, I’m not sure anyone else can answer this question.

This might help…

I had a professor in my graduate school days. One day, a student said: “I’ve read everything written on ___________.” And the professor stopped him right there – (with a pretty hefty tone of indignation, by the way). The professor asked the student:

“Do you read German?” – “No, I don’t.”
“Do you read Italian?” – “No, I don’t.”
“Have you been through every library’s collection of academic journals? – “No, I have not.”
“Then you have not read everything written about ______________.”

I’ve never forgotten that interchange. So, I am very careful when I answer “what is the best book on ____________?” I try to answer this way:

I can only tell you the best book I’ve read on it the subject. Though I’ve read quite a few books, I have not read every book on the subject. But, I think the best book I’ve read about _________ is this book: __________.

So many books, so little time…

But I can say this — every book I read tells me something I had not read, understood, grasped before. The best books tell me much that I needed to, and was glad to, learn.

Yes, there is always the next new thing to learn.

Maybe humility is a trait worth cultivating…


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