Understanding doesn’t have to be hard

Why waste any more time on books full of fluff that were only written to build the authors reputation?

Our books are different.

  • We make sure that each chapter, each page, and each sentence helps you understand.
  • We never use fancy words or overcomplicate things to appear smarter.
  • We cut out all fluff that is usually included solely to make the book longer.

The Trouble With Books

As a beginner, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stupid. It took me quite some time to realize that the main reason for this phenomenon is that most books aren’t written for the reader, but for the author.

I first understood this by reading the following little sentence from the book The Variational Principles of Mechanics by Cornelius Lanczos:

“Many of the scientific treatises of today are formulated in a half-mystical language, as though to impress the reader with the uncomfortable feeling that he is in the permanent presence of a superman.”

This made it click for me: It’s not my fault that I’m confused all the time. Instead, the real problem is that most authors do not care about me at all. Instead, they are primarily concerned with their own reputation. Their primary focus is on how the book makes them look. That’s why most books are unnecessarily complicated. If a book is hard to understand it makes the author appear like “Superman”.

Also, I now know that writing a book can be extremely scary. You’re exposing your thoughts to the scrutiny of the whole world.

As the final deadline day comes closer the idea to remove any part that could be criticized becomes increasingly attractive.

It’s almost impossible to criticize some text that you don’t fully understand and it’s much safer to stick to the boring stuff.

For these reasons, most authors avoid any more in-depth discussion about what, say a given equatíon, actually means since this could quickly lead to criticism.

A third aspect that explains why so many books are hard to understand is that most of them are written by experts. While this sounds like a good thing it usually isn’t. On the one hand, experts have a lot to lose and therefore do care a lot about their reputation. On the other hand, they usually suffer from the “the curse of knowledge“.  All experts learned their field of expertise a long time ago and thus they already forgot what problems a student faces. To quote C.S. Lewis:

“It often happens that two schoolboys can solve difficulties in their work for one another better than the master can. […] The fellow-pupil can help more than the master because he knows less. The difficulty we want him to explain is one he has recently met. The expert met it so long ago he has forgotten. He sees the whole subject, by now, in a different light that he cannot conceive what is really troubling the pupil; he sees a dozen other difficulties which ought to be troubling him but aren’t.”

Don’t get me wrong. Most authors don’t write books that are hard to understand on purpose. It’s more of a subconscious thing. It takes a lot of training to notice these thought patterns yourself. And that’s why it’s so incredibly hard to write a good book.

We believe that there is a need for books that are written primarily with the readers’ needs in mind and this is why NoNonsenseBooks.com exists.

What we do different

  • The goal of most authors is to demonstrate how smart they are, while our books are written solely to help you understand. At the same time, we always follow Einstein’s advice that “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” This means while we always prefer the simplest possible explanation, we avoid oversimplifications and stick to the facts
  • Our No-Nonsense Books are written by non-experts. We firmly believe that someone who has just learned the subject himself understands the needs of beginners much better
  • We value the time of our readers. This means we actively remove any fluff from our books and ruthlessly focus on the fundamentals. We ignore any written or unwritten rules that dictate how long a book on a given subject is supposed to be. The only thing that matters to us is that all truly essential aspects are covered and explained in detail.
  • We believe in the concept of “just-in-time learning”. In practice, this means that each concept is introduced only when we truly need it and we always emphasize why it is important. This makes sure our readers are never left wondering: “why should I care about this?”
  • We dislike dogmatism. On the one hand, this means whenever there are several viable options we don’t act as if we knew the answer but instead discuss all possibilities. On the other hand, we explain any subject in the most convenient way and do not simply copy the structure of all other books.
  • Our books are written with the big picture in mind. We make sure our readers don’t get lost in the details and always see the forest, not just the trees.
  • Last but not least, we take the feedback from our readers extremely serious and regularly updated our books accordingly.

Jakob Schwichtenberg

founder of NoNonsenseBooks.com



Our Books


Why do people read these hard to understand books after all?

One primary reason is that most beginners only know those books that are recommended to them by professors or experts: the “standard books”. As a beginner, you believe that you have to understand these books to master the topic. You then try reading them, understand little to nothing, give up and then conclude that learning the topic by reading is just not “their thing”.

The crux is that the standard books are seldom beginner-friendly. Instead, they usually resemble how experts think a topic should be taught.

To make the situation even worse, recommending a book that is hard to understand is good for your ego. Indirectly you’re signaling: “Well, I understand and even enjoy this super-complicated stuff. I’m smart! In contrast, if you recommend a book that explains everything in great detail you indirectly send the message: “I needed such dummy treatment to understand the subject. I’m not particularly smart.”

Be assured that if you read some treatment of the subject that was written with the readers’ needs in mind first and then read the super-complicated stuff, you will understand, too. Don’t panic, don’t feel stupid. It’s the same for everyone.

The message to take away is: Stop Reading Books you don’t understand immediately! There is absolutely no reason to feel ashamed or stupid. If you don’t understand something, simply search for another explanation that makes sense to you!