It took me one full year to finish reading Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It wasn’t because the book was boring – but the opposite. The book had so many startling insights, that I had to put it down every few pages and digest what he’d written. I was bookmarking interesting insights to re-read and discuss with my wife. And the bookmarks were everywhere.
I’m usually a fast reader, but that would have been a travesty with Antifragile. The book demands reflection. And the various sections of the book are linked to one another – variations on a common thread. It’s safe to say that it’s had more of an impact on my everyday life, than anything I’ve read so far.
Can’t Summarize Antifragile Easily
If you’re looking for a quick summary, I’m sorry I won’t be able to provide it for you here. The most I can say is that it makes you look at the world in a whole new way. It makes you question conventional wisdom, and before you know it, society will never seem the same again. All of a sudden, a huge bunch of disparate things make sense.
Why will economic crashes keep happening? Why do you feel so miserable when you have more “stuff” than ever? Why do you instinctively know that it’s a bad idea to get that elective surgery? Why do large corporations fail so dramatically with no warning? Why are so-called “safe” jobs, not really safe?
With a single central though, Antifragile weaves its tendrils deep into almost every aspect of life. It felt like Taleb was giving voice to ideas and opinions that were only half-formed in my own mind. One big idea, the ramification of which are astounding.
The biggest example for me, is that I’ve been saying for years that humanity will never recover from a major, global catastrophe. That there’s too much specialized knowledge making our world go around. But I was never able to fully justify this instinctive idea, until now. Taleb makes the above observation a foregone conclusion.
My Personal Life has Changed
The best example of how path breaking Antifragile has been for me, is in how it’s changed my own life. Because of this book, I now do a lot of things differently. I no longer rely on centralized financial planners, no longer check the time on my phone, I’ve started fasting now and then, changed my walking shoes, changed the way I listen to advice from doctors, and a lot, lot more.
Life is No Longer Boring
The #1 malaise in my life has always been boredom. Without realizing it, I was falling prey to a particularly vicious form of “efficiency”. In a way, modern life has an excess of convenience – something that I used to admire in American society. But after reading Antifragile, my opinion on this has changed. “Efficiency” and “metrification” are anathema to healthy living.
Taleb’s insights, when taken to their logical conclusion, worm their way into your everyday life, and it’s hard for me to fully explain their impact. So if you’re looking for your next non-fiction read, give it a shot. I guarantee you’ll come out of the experience with a completely new way of looking at things. Perhaps the biggest benefit will be the ability to spot bullshit a mile away. And that in itself is a tremendous achievement!