Ten Book Challenge

Planning your self-education ten books at a time.

“The interesting thing about setting big goals is that once we get serious about planning for them, they tend to be achieved more quickly than we initially expect.”

- Chris Guillebeau From “The Art of Noncomformity”

Lately, I have been talking a lot about the importance of assigning yourself homework. Naturally, I thought it would be fun for this week’s edition to include a recent homework assignment I gave myself.

This challenge was relatively simple: to pick ten books I own/ am currently borrowing and setting out to reading these books in their ENTIRETY, before planning any additional books I would like to read.

Fighting The Abundance

Let’s face it. We are over-inaudated by book recommendations from podcasts, YouTube Videos, online courses, friends, collaborators, etc.. how to fight this abundance?

Well. You could start by choosing the books you plan on reading next with more intent. This is something I have struggled with genuinely, and it is why I have decided on planning the next ten books I intend to read.


Here is my list of my next ten books I plan on reading:

1. "The End of Education" by: Neil Postman.

2. "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind" by: Julian Jaynes

3. "The Fountainhead" by: Ayn Rand.

4. "Deschooling Society" by: Ivan Illich.

5. "The Printing Press as an Agent of Change" by: Elizabeth Eisenstein.

6. "The New Media Reader" by: Noah Wardrip - Fruin.

7. "The Place of Thomas Nashe in the Learning of his Time" by: Marshall McLuhan.

8. "Thought and Language" by: Lev Vygotsky.

9. "Modern Man in Search of a Soul" by: Carl Jung.

10. "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" by: Tom Wolfe.

The Deciding Process

How do you decide where to start? This is an invariably hard question to answer, but here is my best attempt. Start with your base interests that are top-of-mind for you.

If I were to lump my base interests together.. it goes a little something like this:

  • Alternative visions of what an education can be, let alone tackling the question of what an education even is.

  • How language shapes our consciousness? How language shapes our waking as well as unconscious realities?

  • How to start an intriguing adventure? What can I learn from previous brave souls who set out to do something unconventional?

  • Learning more about the psychological environments we enter as a result of the adoption of the latest technology.

  • Diving into a more systematic exploration of the contexts created by different ages of technology, and how that impacts humanity on a vast scale. Comparing and contrasting this from the invention of the printing press to the invention of the internet.

What I am hoping to do with reading these next ten books is simple: to explore the above ideas.

To explore ideas that I know are incredibly complex. To be eager to start chipping away one book at a time, to challenge my intellect and to develop better questions. Without questions, how are we supposed to come with better answers to our personal challenges as well as the worlds biggest challenges?

Challenges Need To Be Fun

When setting yourself a challenging goal, it is important to lump in some fun into what you are striving towards. As far as this relates to the present plan of attack for planning my next ten reads, this is why I have added an extremely fun read “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” by Tom Wolfe.

Ideally, the last step towards your goal should feel like play, because after all it is an acknowledgement for all the hard work you have done to that point.

I decided to put reads that I have been putting off for a long-time, books in which I may find incredibly challenging to parse my way through.. but this is all speculation.

A lot of times challenges overall appear more intimidating than the procedure of pushing through the challenge and realizing… “woah, this was a lot easier, than I thought it would be.”

Due Dates for this Challenge?

None. Zilch. Notta.

However, one thing I am requiring to be “due” everyday, is that I must sit down and read for an hour a day. This ensures, a continuation towards the goal of finishing one of the next planned books.

For this process, I legitimately set a single hour timer to ensure it is an exact hour of reading. Trust me, the first five minutes is the hardest part, if you make it through that threshold, you will be golden.

I suggest you try adopting a similar method (like setting a timer), to hold yourself accountable to a set amount of time of reading a day. In the meanwhile, you may end up cultivating the wonderful habit of reading.

Call To Action

Here is the part of the newsletter, where I ask for more from you in terms of using a more concentrated approach to your self-education. I dare you to make a pledge to read ten specific books. I dare us to actually go through with it.

The thing I have learned about learning (so meta I know) is that setting an outrageous goals, and chunking it into fun, diverse goals that eat away in terms of progression towards our goals is the only way we can accomplish anything extraordinary.

Hence, this is just a sliver off of my goal of striving towards reading 1,000 books. However, it is a sliver, that I want to make public. And to dare others to get involved.

Shoutout to those who have already submitted me their next ten books that they plan on reading. These individuals include: Brendan Schlagel, Maria Papadopoulou and Anthony Morley. (I will update this list with whoever else sends me their next ten planned reads!)

I am still convinced that a world in which we share our learning goals, while writing and reading to uncover more about ourselves is a better world for all involved.

Feel free to share your list of ten reads that you plan on reading next with me by either mentioning me on Twitter, replying directly to this email, and/or sharing your list in the comments.

Let’s do our part individually in setting a more concerted approach in making the most of our self-education.

Cheers to Lifelong Learning,

Adam Bartley

Parting Note

Also, a reminder to check out the very first Newsletter Creator Club. Starting March 22nd, 2021 through hyperlink.academy. Entry is $25, and we will explore the power of being a dedicated group writing online together, with the shared goal of publishing our individual work consistently.

If you're enjoying The Freelance Graduate Student, I would really love it if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to subscribe. I try my very best to put out my best ideas out each week, and I hope you have as much fun reading them, as I do creating them.

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