Building A Second Brain: A Book Better Off Than Listicles

About 30 pages in Building a second brainTiago Forte’s book, which promised a “tested way to organize my digital life and unleash (my) creative potential” – and god knows I need both – I was more lost, overwhelmed and frustrated than when I started.

As I waded through another smug and repetitive paragraph, I wondered if this might have been a playlist of snappy “how-to” videos with actionable points and takeaways. This approach would actually have served the purpose for which most people reach for such a book. Then, suddenly, a portion of a footnote that revealed Forte’s main goal and purpose stood out: “This book focuses primarily on the potential of digital note-taking.”

Wild. What on earth is going on in the self-help genre? When I got to a paragraph where Forte moves digital notes and says that in them “(Quotes) from a philosophy book written in antiquity might stand next to the latest clever tweet,” my thoughts took the form of today popular an recalled saying, “This meeting could have been an email.” The voice in my head was horrified enough to mimic and modify this: “This book could have been a list.” From that moment on, that thought became the biggest hurdle in getting through the novel-length navel-gazing about… well, how to Notes app uses your device effectively.


Building a Second Brain – A Proven Way to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential : By Tiago Forte, Hachette India, 272 pages, 399

Forte has an entire website, Forte Labs, with courses and other resources to help people organize their minds digitally. In fact, if you google the title of this book, it doesn’t bring up the book, but Forte’s second website,, with their courses and email subscriptions (you click “Yes, I want to build my second brain”, if you would like to receive his email guide) and old videos about the already popular “Method”. More reasons this book basically shouldn’t have existed.

It does have a few interesting nuggets, however. For example, about Taylor Swift’s songwriting process – she jots down phrases as they occur in her phone’s Notes app – and the genesis of her hit song blank space. But little things aren’t good enough to justify a whole book. Building a second brain It does a great disservice to the really interesting points that Forte wants to draw attention to – for example, how a “recency bias” can affect creativity and why we would benefit if we organized and organized our previous knowledge and collected ideas had readily available.

It’s not enough just to have something to say – as authors often advise – if you want to write a book. You have to know how to tell it. Forte’s book made me wonder if more life coaches like this could benefit from the approach taken by Alain de Botton, particularly in his 2016 book The Course of Love. In it he proselytizes his reflections on love through the life of a fictional couple. This is how moralistic fables have worked for children. New Age gurus would do well to remember, or even know.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.