About Knowledge Lust

Knowledge Lust is a blog for lifelong learners and autodidacts who want to systematically learn new subjects and skills on their own outside of school.

Our mission is to teach you the principles and tactics of effective self-education, so that you can become an expert in your chosen subjects and, ultimately, lead a more intellectual life based around the pursuit of curiosity and depth.

Our support comes in a variety of written forms, from self-education roadmaps and reading lists to study tips and inspiring stories of people who have achieved amazing things through self-education.

In most articles I’ll also share my own trials, learnings, and experiments in self-directed study. Hopefully this insight will give you helpful techniques to borrow and show you some silly mistakes to avoid.

Our Future Plans

In the near future, we hope to launch a community where autodidacts and polymaths can form study groups and discuss their chosen subjects and books.

We would also like to begin interviewing today’s remarkable thinkers about their own adventures in self-directed learning. 

Our Vision

We hope that in today’s intellectual climate of increasing superficiality Knowledge Lust will encourage and empower people to think more deeply, read great books, and pursue their curiosity.

Taking a broader view, we hope your individual efforts in self-directed study will help bring about a more thoughtful, and as a result a far healthier, society, one where we can all speak to each other, regardless of political affiliation, with respect, open-mindedness, and intelligence.

There’s no silver bullet to the world’s problems, but education is the closest thing we’ve got.

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About Me, Sam Rinko

“I began my education at a very early age; in fact, right after I left college.” — Winston Churchill

You could easily apply Churchill’s quote to my own life.

After graduating college with an economics degree I realized I was dissatisfied with myself and my education.

I’d learned the ins and outs of quantitative micro and econometrics. But I hadn’t more than grazed the other fields of knowledge. And I certainly hadn’t gotten what one might call a liberal arts education.

I felt like I didn’t have a solid foundation in the major subjects of study, especially the ones that interested me most — literature, philosophy, politics, psychology, art, and history.

And I felt like I was somewhat culturally illiterate, having read almost none of the classics of these fields — none of Plato, Rousseau, Descartes, Herodotus, Dickens, Austen, Du Bois.

If I had read them, it had only been in excerpts for class.

In other words, I felt like I was nowhere near reaching my full intellectual potential.

I could stop here and rant a bit about how our education system often fails students and makes kids dislike learning and reading. But, as is usually the case, most of the blame is on me.

As an adolescent I just wasn’t interested in school. I was too young to appreciate learning, and too interested in friends, video games, sports, and sleepovers to devote time to homework and studying.

Though I was great at cramming for exams and bullshitting essays, I didn’t apply myself much. And I know I missed out because of it.

Ever since I graduated college, I’ve been making up for lost time.

Education is a lifelong process, after all:

“The person who stops studying merely because he has finished school is forever hopelessly doomed to mediocrity, no matter what may be his calling. The way of success is the way of continuous pursuit of knowledge.”

Napoleon Hill

At 23, in between cold calling people at my tech sales job, I started reading literary classics and philosophy, and had a bit of an intellectual awakening (or re-awakening — I think a combo of formal schooling around middle school, and burgeoning adolescence, put it to sleep).

All of a sudden I wanted to start doing what adults had been telling me to do for years — to learn!

These feelings of intellectual insufficiency and curiosity, combined with my newfound desire to become a writer and my awareness of how well-read all the writers, thinkers, and leaders I looked up to were (think Teddy Roosevelt, George Orwell, or Virginia Woolf), catapulted me into what would become four years of self-education, haphazard at first, and growing slowly into something more systematic.

Now, on this blog, I hope to teach others what I’ve learned from four years of going it alone, and to share my current challenges and learnings as I continue this lifelong mission for a well-rounded education.

I’m by no means a public intellectual or genius, just a regular guy with a wide range of interests and a fascination with the art of self-education.

I want to help others thrive in their own self-educations and develop well-rounded knowledge outside of school, with a special respect to the classics and humanities.

I also hope to help you cultivate your critical thinking and self-directed study skills, and to gain insight into which fields of study interest you most so you can pursue them to the point of expertise.

Whether you went to college or not, I believe you can give yourself an incredibly well-rounded self-education through reading, online courses, and other means.

Speaking of which, grab my 8-part checklist to quickly gain a foundation in any subject when you sign up for our newsletter:

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In the newsletter you’ll receive helpful articles and tips about self-education, reading the classics, autodidactism, and more.

After all, having support in your self-directed studies is a key to your intellectual development. That’s what Knowledge Lust is for!

The intellectual life is not restricted to the halls of academia. Thinking, reading, and study are accessible to all of us, provided we have the drive and curiosity to participate in this lifestyle.

My hope is that recording my journey in self-education and writing about my learnings and mistakes will help you achieve your own self-education goals — whether that’s gaining a well-rounded foundational education, becoming an expert in a topic like philosophy or economics, vetting an academic field for formal study, developing your intellectual faculties, or simply satisfying your many curiosities.

Why Did I Start This Blog? A Mission Statement.

Five reasons really.

To fill an unsatisfied need of mine.

During the pandemic I was doing a lot of self-directed study in fields that interested me. I kept googling “how do you study X systematically?” and all I would get was lists of books or general tips, when what I wanted was a guide that at least somewhat matched what a college student would go through, so then I could have a process to follow and trust to reach at least a foundational understanding of say political philosophy or english literature.

After a while, I decided to just start creating these roadmaps on my own. I’d research syllabi, look at what experts had done, find advice from autodidacts, and then amass that into a step by step process for myself to follow that’d take me from moron to someone capable of competing with a major.

I found this process quite addicting. I found that I was actually pretty fascinated with the art of learning, not just the content that could be learned. And so I said, “hey, if no one’s making this stuff, then I’ll do it and post it online and help others learn the stuff they’re interested in.”

To build a community of self-learners.

Autodidactism can be lonely, so I thought, “hey, it’d be cool if there was a place where autodidacts and the intellectually curious could hang out and talk about what they’re studying.”

I haven’t built an online community yet, but I hope to do so in the future, a place where people can easily form study groups and book clubs, where people can find mentors outside of academia.

To hold myself accountable to study and read.

I’m pretty self-motivated. Usually my curiosity takes me pretty far. But, as any autodidact knows, it can sometimes be hard to push through a long dense book when it doesn’t relate at all to your career.

This blog holds me accountable to self-study. If I don’t do my readings for the day, I’ll feel like a fraud. Is that healthy? I’m really not sure. I believe though that the benefit outweighs any costs. Reading makes me feel good and alive, so having more motivation to do it is great.

To share my love of learning and classic books with other people.

I’ve come to care immensely for the subjects and books at the core of Western civilization, especially the humanities.

Unfortunately, the humanities have taken a hit in higher education. People aren’t majoring in history or literature or philosophy or languages anymore.

That’s surely do not to lack of curiosity among students but to the absurd price tag of higher education. If people are gonna go to college and pay 160k they should probably learn a skill that leads to a high-paying job.

Another reason is that the humanities have begun to shy away from teaching classics. I think this is a grave mistake, not just for civilization’s intellectual life, but for their department’s attendance.

I think that people crave the classics, and that this is an unmet need. People want to read Plato, Dante, Dickens, Austen, Baldwin, and other great thinkers and artists in the humanities.

Students sense, correctly I might add, that there is wisdom in those books that will help them better understand themselves and the world they must navigate.

To provide an alternative to expensive formal programs.

I hate the idea that you can only be educated if you go to college. It’s toxic. College is helpful, yes, but it’s not the only way to become well-read, or an expert in a topic, a master of a skill.

There have been so many well-educated writers, thinkers, entrepreneurs, artists, and craftspeople throughout time who’ve mastered their crafts and become respected thinkers in their chosen topics, all without higher education.

I wanted therefore to bring this to the attention of people, to share stories of people who learned skills and subjects on their own and achieved amazing things.

I feel like my real education began at 23 once I graduated college, when I started reading and grappling with the classics of the Western tradition.

I’m not sure how much I got out of my Econ degree. I wasn’t committed. I picked the major because it sounded practical. It was somewhat interesting, but I only read what I had to to get good grades. I’d cram before exams, do well on it, then forget everything. Only the classes that I really found interesting did I take something from.

To really learn your heart has to be in it, and mine wasn’t. I was checking a box. I wasn’t ready to embrace wisdom, to wrestle with ideas, to fall at the feet of great thinkers.

To me, college felt, academically at least, like an extension of high school, something I was supposed to do and didn’t mind doing. This is privileged for sure, and I wish I’d given more of myself to the experience, but I was young and naive, too focused on girls and friends to care about class.

It’s perhaps my greatest regret that I didn’t spend more time in the library and choose a major like literature, which has always called to me from some void.

Alas, I now have the freedom to study that which I please, and I will not take this time and these books for granted.

And there are so many free resources, MOOCs, books, online lecturers, and other ways to teach yourself whatever you find interesting.

My Story of Autodidactism and Wide Reading

Hi, my name’s Sam Rinko, and I’m addicted to learning, sometimes to a fault.

I wasn’t always this way, obsessed with books.

My grandmother, an English teacher and avid reader of history, used to chide me regularly for my attitude towards learning.

“But learning is just about the most fun you can have!” she said once, as she watched me mourn over the news I had just received that we’d be taking a trip to the Civil War History museum.

For most of my life, learning was near the bottom of the list of fun things to do, right there next to brushing my teeth and going to sleep.

I know now, upon reflection, that this disenchantment with education was not due to my lack of curiosity — I’ve always been inquisitive. At just two years old I was happily driving my parents mad on car rides and bed time tuck-ins with questions ranging from “why’s the sky blue?” to “do turtles have friends too?”

Instead, it was my distaste for authority that caused my disaffection with learning. When teachers started to mandate readings and to assign certain books, my reading ceased almost entirely. I considered it a chore.

From around sixth grade to Freshman year of college I read almost no books at all, aside from those assigned for class. And, believe me, I skipped plenty of those too.

In college, something happened. I began to read again. Perhaps it was the the free time, a maturation of my mind, or the marijuana. Whatever it was, I started to flirt with books — not my course readings though — those I neglected with pride.

Instead, I read books on subjects that interested me. Like many college students over the last few generations, I was naturally drawn to books on the more mysterious topics — eastern philosophy, meditation, lucid dreaming, quantum mechanics.

These books seemed like treasure chests the adults had hidden from me, and I spent many a night digging through them, marveling at those glorious, if at times unscientific, secrets I found inside.

My reading habits existed in much the same way through my college years. I neglected most of my school readings, except for the economics texts I needed to know for exams, and focused a bit too much time on random topics that stoked my curiosity.

When I should’ve been reading a novel based in the slums of Brazil for my Literature class, I was reading a book on Film Production. When I was supposed to be working my way through Descartes’ meditations, I was, at a snail’s pace, grappling with Walden.

I missed out on many great books because of this habit, but I did something much more important. I followed my curiosity, read what I wanted to read, and in doing so, revived my love for learning. Anyway, now I can learn those books on my own. In fact, I have.

Since graduation, I’ve read classics (in no way all of them, but some) spanning history, literature, psychology, philosophy, and religion. I’ve read more practical books on writing, sales, marketing, even reading. I’ve read current novels and pieces of long-form journalism.

For a while there, it was a bit of a free for all. I was making up for lost time, I guess. I focused too much on range, and now I want — no, need — some depth.

Now, I’m starting to self-study one subject, or subdiscipline, at a time. I’m becoming more deliberate, and taking time to plan my self-education projects.

A lack of structure was one of many of the mistakes I’ve made over the past four years I’ve been engaging in self-education.

I’ve learned a lot, and I want to share it with you, helping you to avoid tactics and mindsets that wasted my time, and to become self-educated in the subjects that pull you, be it philosophy, politics, biology, or some wonderful combination.

On Knowledge Lust, I’ll post step-by-step self-education roadmaps that will help autodidacts get the fundamentals of a discipline systematically and without going to school. These are designed to be followed sequentially, but you can also just use them as a starting point.

I’ll also share some tips and progress updates on my own self-education journey. Right now I’m tackling English Literature!

Speaking of which, grab my 8-part checklist to quickly gain a foundation in any subject when you sign up for our newsletter:

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Thank you for subscribing!

Grab Your Free Checklist to Self-Learn Any Subject

Subscribe to our newsletter and get the 8 key elements of any self-education roadmap. 

In the newsletter you’ll receive helpful articles and tips about self-education, reading the classics, autodidactism, and more.

On Knowledge Lust, I’ll give you some self-studying tips and strategies that I’ve found useful.

I hope my content helps you gain some structure to your self-directed studies, as well as some confidence that it’s possible.

As always, if some step or tip doesn’t vibe with your curiosities, don’t listen to me. I’m learning as well. In the end, you should rely mostly on your own interests to guide you. Curiosity is king when it comes to autodidactism.

If you’re just starting out with self-learning, I recommend reading this piece (one of my most popular), on how to become well-read in 3 years. It’ll show you what’s possible if you make reading a daily habit.