Recently, I was thinking about the similarity between foraging vultures and my book-reading friends. If the connection isn’t immediately apparent, which of course it wouldn’t be, let me explain. Both are networks that provide access to resources (animal carcasses on one hand, knowledge and insights on the other) that would be out of reach to a lone vulture or solitary book-reader.
Vultures forage across the sky in vast interconnected networks. One eye (or nostril, in the case of some New World vultures that possess a keen sense of smell) is trained downward, sensing for food, while the other eye keeps tabs on other vultures in the sky. When one or a few vultures on the horizon begin descending, it’s a good indication there’s some tantalizing grub off yonder.
It’s the same thing for book-readers, more or less. A single book-reader can only read so many books, and they’re often on the hunt for the next great read. When swilling some Pinot, say, with a fellow book-reader who you haven’t seen for months, you can get a quick overview of all the books they’ve read in the meantime. Not only do you get summaries and critiques of all these books you haven’t read, but one of these reviews might just direct you to your next favorite book. Like a vulture some six miles away that is descending at a shallow angle to the horizon, your friend is pointing toward an edifying source of knowledge and/or an enjoyable literary experience.
If you’re a vulture, it’s good to have other vultures around. Ditto for book-readers.