Reading and learning go hand-in-hand. Of course, there are many ways to learn and achieve knowledge, but for those who easily get inspired by words and thoughts, books are top-ranked. One such person is Alejandro Plater, COO of A1 Group, who sees books as great vehicles of information. In this A1 Story, he shares his insights on his personal reading and learning journey and encourages us to dive into a new world, too. Are you ready to take the risk to change your mind?

Within A1, Alejandro is recognized as a passionate reader, who always has an interesting book recommendation when meeting employees whether through an online stream or in person. Actually, for him it is not so much about the reading itself, but the importance of learning, with reading being just one of multiple possibilities.

In this interview, he emphasizes the importance of learning, what a book needs to have in order to catch his attention and how he thinks about writing a book of his own. Enjoy reading and learning.

»I am learning as much as I can.«

Did you enjoy reading books in school?
No, I didn’t read much in school. But my parents were reading all the time, so they were good role models.

What do you find most inspiring about learning?
Learning gives me fresh input; it opens up new ways of thinking, makes me reflect while showing me new perspectives. How we see reality depends on the complexity of our knowledge. Our lack of knowledge limits our view of the world, learning broadens it, otherwise you don´t get rid of your pre-conceptions and biases. I often search especially for material, which is opposed to what I think, and I look for evidence that proves my beliefs. Of course, that often leads to changing my opinion. That´s the “risk” of learning.

»If you‘re not willing to change your mind, you can‘t learn.«

What does it take to make you curious about reading a certain book?
I´m listening a lot to podcasts and very often the topic is the presentation of a new book. Of course, I also get recommendations from friends and colleagues, who know that I like reading.

Is there a book that you have read more than once?
Yes, sure, because there are books that when you read them the first time you understand nothing, the second time you understand something and then you explore the real messages and stories. Books I´ve read more than once are for example “El Aleph” by Luis Borges, “The Anticrist” and “Thus spoke Zarathustra” by Nietzsche or some books from Derrida, just to name a few.

In which language do you read most of the books?
Most of the books in read English, if it´s originally in Spanish then I take the original.

How many books do you read per month?
Four to five per month and all of them at the same time usually.

Which was the last book you couldn´t put away?
The last book that trapped me was from the Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård, “My struggle”.

Do you finish all books you start reading?
No, definitely not. The problem especially with some specialist literature is, that those books need to be sold, and it seems as if for some publishers the number of pages is a sign of quality. But for many books less would be more. I prefer to read a condensed content in 30 pages instead of going through 300 with no insights on many of the pages. Unless of course the reading itself is worth it, then I´m enjoying the process a lot, the journey of reading, no matter how long it is.

What is the best setting for reading a book?
Saturday morning, on my sofa at home with nice music in the background.

Do you read ebooks or paper books?
Paper books are a nicer experience, ebooks are more practical, I do both.

Have you ever thought of writing your own book?
Yes, I already started to write one. It´s a collection of short stories about free will, philosophy and psychology.

And finally, some recommendations please!

It is really hard to just pick a few … there are so many great books.

  • »Free Will« by Sam Harris
  • »The Spinoza Problem« by Irvin Yalom
  • »Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity« by Carlo Rovelli
  • »Thinking, fast and slow« by Daniel Kahnemann
  • And this one was one of my favorite readings during the quarantine: Albert Camus, »La Peste«

In case you scrolled down to read the end first ;-) Here is Alejandro’s advice:

»Learning is exploring the world. Get out, be curious, be open-minded, explore, just enjoy the ride.«

Type 1 (1-4): Fantasy:
The real world does not have enough secrets left for you. You need elves, vampires and unicorns to relax.

Type 2 (5-8): Facts, Facts, Facts:
No matter if it is the mystery of history or the hidden sides of human behavior or Artificial intelligence – you prefer deep diving into books rather than into the ocean.

Type 3 (9-12): Novel aficionado:
Close to reality and still some fantasy, you enjoy reading, no matter if there is a learning aspect included.

Type: 4 (13-16): The everlasting child:
You need pictures to find a book interesting.