tv Gary Hoover The Lifetime Learners Guide to Reading and Learning CSPAN October 14, 2021 7:36pm-8:02pm EDT
and support. this is sort over the past year. parents are back in the driver side, they have been rian powered to take the reins of their children's education, and seek other options. and, there is so many educational entrepreneurs, online learning programs, and community resources that are there to step, and support these families, with a different way to learn. >> carrie, the author of this book, on school, raising curious, well educated children, outside of the conventional classroom. thank you for joining us on book tv. >> great to be with you, thank you. background, love of reading and some of the books he has in his library . >> gary hoover is the author of this book jerry hoover is the author of this book, the lifetime guide
to reading, and learning, but before we get into the themes of the book, and nearby are graffiti, it says, you live in a 33 room house. 32 rooms, of which, containing books. 57,000 books, in total. can you explain? >> i'm afraid, a few more came last week. i need to be closer to 60,000. it is an addiction, and there's no 12 step program for book collectors. >> 33 room house though? >> i found a good bargain on an abandoned community health clinic in, a small town in texas. so, it's got all of these little exam rooms. they are just perfect for filling up. so, each room is a different subject. it's a very unusual living arrangement, to put it mildly. >> how many of those 60,000 books have you read? >> i, i actually, don't read
books. or, with the limits. i have a method. it's in the book we're talking about today. i call it, digesting a book. what i really am, is an information junkie. i collected world atlas, us and maps, when i was seven years old. just trying to figure out how the world works. michael was to have a personal reference library, where i could look up anything in a book. a lot of questions, you can answer from a book, but anything that wasn't a book. i began to build this nonfiction reference library. so, there's very little fiction in there, but it does cover almost every subject imaginable, as far as nonfiction. many people are surprised when i say 70% of my library is not available online. i speak to young people, and they say i look it up online, and yet, there is so much great stuff. old stuff, that hasn't been scanned, and more recent stuff, under copyright. but, my method, i call it digesting a book. i normally spend 15, to 30 minutes, when i get a new book, to grasp what it is about.
it wouldn't work for a novel, but, for nonfiction. the kind of stuff i read. social sciences, things about business, lots of history, lots of geography. really, to get the fundamental ideas of the book. i have a method i go through. for example, i look at the index first, and only use amazon look inside to see the index, when it's available there, but, i will look for things i already know something about. because then i read those sections of the book, which allowed me to remember everything i see. but, i'm not a speed reader. i don't scan, or anything like that. really, it's about slowing down, and thinking about the book. and, at the same, time realizing the book is mine now. that i've brought it, or got it at the library, so i don't have to read a sequentially, from front to back. i can skip around, studied the stable of contents for ten minutes, or 20 minutes, to get the whole concept. and, if i want to go longer than a half hour, i'm free to. a good encyclopedia, or dictionary style book, and
often spend two or three hours with. >> mr. hoover, i was struck by the fact that what you wrote in your book, the lifetime learner scared to reading and learning, that 70% of your library is not contained on the internet. how did you reach that percentage? >> it's just a general conclusion. i have a couple of blogs. my main things now, is business history. i have a nonprofit called the american business history center. an american business history dot org. i am always researching. and how much there is online. the depth of business history, the connections, the full biographies of the great business leaders. but, it would apply to and i've been to 45 countries. i always studied them before i go, and all of the information i gather about china, and with the politics, are and how they're economy works, how their government works. i lead tours of mexico city to understand it.
i had to go to the mexican census bureau, and gather their books. so, it's just a huge amount of stuff. but, it's not online. the other thing about online, is when you try to study long term trends, which fascinating me, really, because it's the only way to see the future clearly, is that the internet is awful on long term trends. if you try to look up something like what beverages to americans consume? how they move from milk, to orange juice, or whatever, your, wine, coca-cola, all you will find is this year, a case last year, and this month, against last month. nobody looks up more than say, three years, which would be a long term chart. you can google, long term chart, on any subject. and yet, i go back in my book. special government publications, and i can find those answers, readily, 50, or 100 years. that is what you need to understand what is going on. then, that applies to a lot more things than just beverage consumption. >> mr. hoover, you say you are
a proponent of wikipedia. >> yes. i will tell you. i believe, you always have to be a skeptic, not a cynic, where you always got people's motives. but you need to be a skeptic. born in missouri, show me. in business history, wikipedia is often awful. sometimes it's okay, but a lot of times, it's a rant from someone who worked at the company, or hates it. you read a history of the company that is 100 years old and will say two lines about the founding, and in 2007, they sold out to so-and-so. there's all of that missing. but on the other hand, if i want to look at protective animal, a bird, a city, its population, a country, wikipedia is pretty good. but, certainly, if i'm going to put something in writing, in a book, or in one of my blogs, or newsletters, i'm going to check, and double check, and make sure the sources are right. but, certainly, the world is better because of wikipedia,
then without it. >> mr. hoover. 57,000 books is not a cheap hobby. how do you make your money? or, how did you make your money? >> i made a bunch, first thing. really, i am a retailer at heart. that was among my first passions. that, and, trains which i picked up as a little boy, and continues today. i started a chain of bookstores out of austin, texas. my friends and i did something called book stops, and we were one of the first giant bookstores. we about them coast to coast, san diego, miami, and when we were seven years old, barnes and noble bought it. that's how they got in the big bookstore business. amid some money there, and the make friends and i created a company that i didn't call it this, but later called, hoover is not tom, which was the biggest website about information companies back in the world. that went public, and in the meantime, i've gone back to retailing, and started a travel
business. and win the airline stopping commissions on airline tickets, i lost all my money in the first two. so, i had a big house on like austin, which was a beautiful thing and austin. two and a half acres, and 250 feet of lake front, and all of that. i sold all of, that downgraded, downsized, but i never sold a book. i've given away a few, but, no. i've been a bookseller, a book collector, and an author, and a book publisher at hoover's for a while. so, no, the books aren't going anywhere. and when i die, they become one of the best book stores in the country. there are some one-of-a-kind stuff in there, like a first addition of general motors, signed by the chairman, and maine stockholder, mr. dupont. so, i have all kinds of crazy stuff that i have collected for almost 65 years, or 62 years, or something like that. >> you write, in the lifetime learner, that the most fundamental skill of the
curious person is to look, and to observe. >> i'm sorry? >> to look, and to observe. >> yes. i talk a lot about the ways that we learn, and, you know, the want to study. i was in the classroom, and i was an entrepreneur who was a resident of the business school at the university of texas. i've talked to a lot of classes to entrepreneurs, and i've spoken all over the world. so, study, whether it is classroom, or just watching c-span, something that's perceived as being passive, but it shouldn't be. when i watch a documentary, i make notes, and arguing with the documentarian in a lecture, or something. i'll be taking notes and going up afterwards, to ask about this, or that. that is one way we learn, and then, there's a number of them. trial and error, or experience and experimentation. conversation is the way most people learn.
most of what they know. but, one of them that gets left out, because they don't do it in classrooms, as observation. when i teach classes and entrepreneurs, i take them to a shopping mall, and they have to go into little teams. one, or two person teams, depending on how many people in the class. one group esther compare the types of cars that are parked behind nordstrom, with the types of cars behind jcpenney, which, are different socioeconomic markets. different target markets. and one group estacada in, estimate the annual revenue of every food court tenant. i send the four engineers, in the austin area, who have a business idea, but have never studied business. they are into technology, you know? mainly, they are men, and i send them to compare the cosmetics department set macy's, pennies, and nordstrom, because i've never set foot in the cosmetics department. or, compare the lighting, or the flooring, as a retailer i know, those are critically important. most customers never look at it,
so it's subtle. it's just the stage of a play. so, the powers of observation, and everywhere, i have 45 countries, maybe 2 million digital pictures i've taken. videos, i video screaming video channels, and i think time-lapse videos all over the world, i'm always just watching. just sitting there, and people watching in the café, the airports, and the train stations, and on the street. how are they walking? how fast are they walking? what kind of phones are they using? are they and family groups? how do they treat their kids? as a retailer, and i would say, retailing is an applied social science. so, i studied under milton friedman, joy stickler, and a couple other great economics people at the university of chicago. i love sociology, psychology, and all of that. really, businesses even more importance than finance, and marketing. sometimes, it's more rare, but, to understand retailing, you
have to apply geography, demography, sociology, anthropology, psychology, economics. so, really, to grasp the world, and understand all of those human aspects of the world, which is an important aspect. you just watch. and if you go into any reasonably well run supermarket, and go on for a half hour, even if it's closed, you should be able to come out of their, and tell me the f that the ethnicity of the customers, the average family size, the income, so much about the people. just the way a good grocery store's merchandise. especially a locally oriented one. and, there are a big change, like where comments in the northeast, or a tv in texas, and publix in the south. even though they are big, they still, really, focus on the individual customers in each store. everywhere you look, there is just so much to be seen. and yet, everybody is so caught up watching their catch it. i got rid of my smartphone, because i founded a
distraction. and you still carry a tablet, but it's such a distraction, and then draws away from seeing, and learning things that may be helpful and understanding the world. >> do you consider yourself to be a renaissance man? >> you know, all those words, renaissance person, and poly mat, and all of that. i just like to learn. even my mother, even after a successful business, a top two on the phone and she said, what did you learn today? if you meet somebody on an airplane, it's not, oh, can i help you get rich, or do this or that, it is what did you learn? and i believe there is no person on earth who can't learn. so, i flew into kolkata, and give a talk to the interpreters there. the president of the club had driver. the president is a 35-year-old guy, earning a steel mill. i learned lots from him. i learn more from the driver. one of my key questions, going in for my research was, what about literacy rates between, men and women, in india? that is a major block to their economic development. little girls aren't in school. so, i knew that a rich guy, little girls would be in school,
but the question, this is the driver's little girl and school? if you sit next to me on a plane, flying across the atlantic, in the pacific, and you think are going to sleep, you know it must be coming. i've met trustee tablet, i've met pence here, and i have 1 million questions for you. and, i remember milton friedman. i had dinner with him, and his wife rose, in the nineties. man, the guy is curious about everything. and he went down to latin america, and all of those things, and the aunts, and how they moved on the ground in costa rica. virtually, all of the people i really admire. all of the great entrepreneurs have this driven kyrgios city. the drive the people around them nuts. asking questions. people say, how will that help my sails this month, or how will that help my stockholder portfolio? and i said, those are all relevant questions, but, no. sam walton, one of the most curious, inquisitive leaders in american business history.
they took on serums, which was 100 times as big, when i was in retail stocks, and wall street in the seventies. and now, sears, basically, is dust. it said. it was really one of the greatest companies in the world. but, sam walton, realizing the curiosity, the lesson was money. it wasn't contacts. it was one where he was headquartered, stolen arkansas. it wasn't all the things you might hear in a typical nba program. not to knock my friends who teach business school too much. >> in your book, the lifetime learners guide to reading and learning, you give 116 book recommendations. do you recommend reading shakespeare? >> i'm sorry, again? >> with your book recommendations in the lifetime learners guide to reading and learning, do you recommend reading shakespeare? >> you know, it is not on the list because i don't do fiction.
i'm not an expert in that. it's kind of parallel for the people who say, you go on my advisory board, in this high tech software start-up. when i give advice, i retentive and business plans may be, but when they say go on our board, i say no. i can give you the names of 20 people, right, now you know 100 times as much as i do about building a hardware, or software company. it would be silly for me to venture into shakespeare. again, i know good world at looks. i know we're good encyclopedia. i know a good book on world history, or a good social science book. so, i tried to just stick to my wheel house, as they say. but, i do think learning art, and music, and architecture, is critically important. i actually, touch on architecture, because that is a field of a great interest in. two rooms in my house, architecture, books and urban studies. how cities of all of. but, no, the more you, read the
more things. if you look at how great ideas are created, and study all of the great people, who created great businesses in our business history that we talk about all the time, it's just connecting to things everybody seen all along, and never put together. so, you put them together, but then the key to, that is that the more subjects who have studied, and are interested in, or at least have some knowledge of how they think, how economists think, how anthropologist think, and so on, that, exponentially, geometrically, increases your odds of coming up with a breakthrough idea. because, then, when you sort through ideas, instead of oh, i just know dogs, and core events, or whatever, and how can i combine ideas from those? all of a sudden, you have shakespeare, and daniel burn, i'm the great architect, in the story of h. jay hines, and comrade hilton. you understand walmart. the more subjects who are interested in, and your chances are coming up with, really, something innovative. it just goes up, geometrically. so, i would never tell anybody
not to study any subject. but, to really, to study it, and to go deep, and to start with the history. where does it come from? who first had this concept? what role hasn't played in society? go back as far as you can. i just wrote to news later we published later this week, we're talking about a family, and how they ran their business, and how parallel it is to the way venture capitalist sack today, in terms of the division of the stop between the money, and the people to in the work. it's just about the same. it's like 15 century, which was the surprise to some people. >> and is there any significance to the 160 recommendations? >> i just ran out of steam, and pages. i put down 160, cut it off their. i could do 1000. i always invite people to email me. hit contact on one of my websites, or hoover's world, the other website. and ask, what is a good book on
this? if it's in my areas of interest, usually, i will fire right back within, usually, an hour to. but, sometimes 24 hours, if i'm traveling like i am now. i can give you a list of books. sometimes a room to my library, interpret checked the office, and titles. but, you know, i started what i thought was it most importantly. i would say, i buy very few best sellers. you know? and by relatively few current books. i do by recent publications. but, huge chunks of my library are pre 1970. and, a decent chunk is pre-1920. sometimes, the best book on the subject, a lot of times, was done in the eighties, or nineties. and how do i say it nicely. amazon search tool is a disaster, you can't find your books. that's gotten a lot worse in recent years. somebody is not minding the store. i love all book solace. i loved arms nobles, mama stops,
used bookstores, new book stores. i have frequent shopper cards from stores and singapore, tel aviv, and moscow, just from one visit. i like all the booksellers. but, to find an old book, artist type in the author, and the title in google search, and then the amazon link will pop up. that's, now, almost always, much faster than searching inside amazon. so, i hope amazon is listening, it would make my life easier. >> one of those 160 books he recommended is how to read a book. a classic guide to intelligent reading by more amr adler, and charles mandarin. >> what about that book? >> it's just a great book. i think, if i recall, they make five different methods of reading a book. i was pleased to see my method is fairly close to what they call inspection or reading. another thing, they mentioned, i think, the next level of reading. i do this once in a while, but
should do more often, is to get three, four, five books on the same subject, lay them out, turn to the same story, for the same section. so, when i was trying to understand the palestine israeli conflict, it's hard to find books that work on on one side, or the other. but, there's three, or four books that are down the middle, and really tell the history of what the british did, in the battle for declaration, and then i have three or four, and i could lay them out, and i could turn the pages, and sewell. here's two views on this. i recently wrote a biographical article about a guy named ahmed, the founder of atlantic records. amazing guy. i started studying his, life and the record industry, and all of that. they don't realize, there, almost every booze the story, or history surely i study, those two views. anytime there's a meeting. well, he thought this is what they set, and she thought no, that's what he said. but when i got into the record industry, every story, there's
like six views, because of how many people. how many discovered the beatles? it sounds like thousands, i guess. on the other hand, when a group bombs, nobody had anything to do with them, or ever met with them. i can't say it nicely, a lot of people in the record business or liars, and cheats. i've been blessed to be in the book publishing business, and selling, and retelling, where i found extremely high levels of honesty, and ten take rudy. it's a shock to me when i read all of these people lying to each other left and right. but, it is fascinating. and the man i rode up with. it's worth studying. it's interesting how we lived his whole life. really, he was one of the greatest man's. he met eric clapped, in all of these guys, who crowded's funeral. mick jagger and stuff. he was such a force of the music industry. >> gary, i don't know if you are aware of this, but you seem to use a lot of quotations in your writing. is that purposeful? >> a lot of what? >> a lot of quotations.
a lot of quotes. >> oh, gosh. i've been writing all my life, thanks to the great madison heights high school, in anderson indiana. miss simmons, and then, the university of chicago. i've been working on wall street where i had an english teacher is a senior analyst, who taught me half of what i know about retailing, or more. i think you just develop your own writing style. and, you know, yeah. i think you get to a point where you feel comfortable with it, and you probably tend to over use certain techniques, here and there. but, yeah. when something -- quotes, usually, when i use them, it isn't like a direct quotation of someone saying something. i say, well, i'm not sure this is what they say it means. like, oh, it was a terrible
event, or something. i can't think of a good example. but, maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. so, air quotes, like now. >> cultivate the skills of contemplation, take the path lewis traveled, 5% of the time, and be skeptical. three pieces of advice in gerry hoover's lifetime learners guide to reading and learning. thank you for joining us on book tv. >> thank you for having me. i enjoyed it. have a great day.