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Mike Tyson Takes on Soren Kierkegaard. There's a Lesson Here for You.

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Source: Charles Williams via Flickr

There are myriad names you might expect to see in a Wall Street Journal byline. Mike Tyson probably isn't one of them.

But the surprises don't stop there. Of all the things that Iron Mike might write about in The Wall Street Journal, the following would probably not make your top 10 list:

I'm currently reading "The Quotable Kierkegaard," edited by Gordon Marino, a collection of awesome quotes from that great Danish philosopher... I love reading philosophy. 

Not that it's just about philosophy for Tyson. It's also about... love letters.

In general, I'm a sucker for collections of letters. You think you've got deep feelings? Read Napoleon's love letters to Josephine. It'll make you think that love is a form of insanity.

And to be fair, Tyson's Twitter followers were probably not shocked to hear about the boxer's proclivity for deep thoughts.

There's a lesson in here. Or, at the very least, a reminder. 

Reading is one of the best ways you can use your time. I feel pretty comfortable saying that's true in general. For investors though, it's doubly (at least) true. 

A great quote from Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger comes to mind.

In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn't read all the time -- none, zero. You'd be amazed at how much Warren [Buffett] reads -- at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I'm a book with a couple of legs sticking out.

Over at the ever-insightful Farnam Street blog, Shane Parrish came up with what he called "the Buffett formula." Here's how he described it: "Read. A lot." After all, as Parrish further notes, it's exactly what Buffett does:

Warren Buffett says, "I just sit in my office and read all day."

What does that mean? He estimates that he spends 80% of his working day reading and thinking.

An important next question is this: What is reading? Checking the prices of stocks in your portfolio isn't reading. Watching stock charts isn't reading. And while browsing your Twitter feed might technically be reading, I'm pretty darn sure that that's not what Munger and Buffett are referring to. 

There are plenty of good books out there to be read. And sure, there are lots of books specific to investment, but books about business may be even more useful -- we are, after all, investing in businesses (this is where Fool co-founder David Gardner turns for much of his reading). There are also SEC filings to be read -- they're not always the most enthralling reading, but it's a great way to get to know the bones of the companies you're interested in.

And while the flood of content available on the Interwebs can be overwhelming to pick through, there is good reading to be found there, too. Recent articles on have included a review of a study into Warren Buffett's investing success, a reflection on the overuse of the word "bubble," and a dive into the world's five strongest economies. The aforementioned Farnam Street blog is also a great place to find solid reading material.

While a WSJ column from Mike Tyson admittedly caught me by surprise, I have to give Iron Mike a big thumbs up for a superb reminder.

So go ahead. Go read. Go read a lot.

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  • Report this Comment On December 20, 2013, at 8:18 AM, duuude1 wrote:

    Read on Fools!! :)

    Although the Tyson bit is somewhat tongue in cheek, Iron Mike was actually an amazing student of boxing in his earlier years when he was being closely mentored by Cus D'Amato and Kevin Rooney. The young Mike had unbelievable skills that he developed through really hard studying and training. After Cus died and Rooney was fired at Don King's insistence - the thug in Mike came out and it was all down hill from there.

    So good reading and good mentoring are two keys to developing great skills. Without those mentors you're just a washed up thug.

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