Reading is important. Reading is critical to achieving success. But reading a book can gobble up lots of your time, unless you know a few secrets. The way you were taught to read as a child, is not the best way to read as an adult. The public education system is not structured so that you relearn how to read a book, in a way that’s suitable for an adult. You are taught to read a book word by word, but the problem with that technique is that not all words are created equally. To manage your time when reading a book, you have to figure out which words are more important – which words are more equal. Additionally, the way you read should depend on why you are reading the book in the first place.
3 Reasons for Reading a Book
In the book, How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren say there are three reasons to read a book.
- Further knowledge
Before you read any book, you first have to decide why you are reading it. When you are reading for entertainment, you will read a book very differently from when you are seeking information or trying to further your knowledge on a certain topic of interest. You take more time when you read a novel for instance, than when you read a business book. In a novel, the setting and imagery are important, so you do not want to skip over those scenes. A business book will have information that is not important to you, and authors repeat information to add emphasis. Therefore, you have more information that you can skip when read a business book.
Seeking Information/Furthering Your Knowledge
When you are seeking information or trying to further your knowledge on a subject, you have a specific need, therefore you have to redefine the meaning of reading. Reading a book doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to read the entire book – word for word. The Pareto Principle, or as most people know it, the 80/20 Rule, in this instance, means that you can read 20 percent of the book to get 80 percent of the ideas that the author is trying to communicate. Sometimes, good enough is good enough, and understanding 80 percent of the ideas of the book, by only reading 20 percent, is good enough, and is a good time saver.
Before Reading a Book
Before reading a book, you have to do some pre-work, but this will save you a lot of time in the end. The first thing is to write down the questions that you want the book to answer, then spend about 20 minutes scanning the book to get a sense of what the book is about. To scan the book,
- Read the publisher’s book description.
- Scan the Index.
- If the book has a section that defines words and phrases, read that as well.
- Read the Table of Contents.
- Jump to sections of the book that catch your eye, while reading the Table of Contents. Scan that section.
- Read the Foreword.
- Read the publisher’s Introduction.
- Flip through the entire book
The pre-work may sound like a lot of work, but you really can scan the book in 20 minutes. After scanning the book, you will have an idea of which sections of the book to read, and read only those sections. If you have read 20 percent of the book and you get the information and knowledge you wanted, you have read the book.
Reading to Learn a Subject
Darren Hardy, author, keynote speaker, and publisher of SUCCESS magazine, says that to master a subject, you have to read 5 books, listen to/watch 3 CDs/DVDs and take one seminar. The focus in this post, is on reading the five books. Mortimer Adler invented the concept of reading syntopically, which is reading books in relation to each other. To learn a new subject, choose the top five books, then read them simultaneously. To do so, you have to do the pre-work for the five books, and read only the sections that will answer your questions. It is worth noting that if you are unsure of what the top five books are on a subject, ask a librarian at your public library, and also ask friends and colleagues for recommendations.
All these time-saving tips are for nought, unless you take proper notes while reading, that you can re-read later and refer to. This is the one of the best ways to remember what you read. Another way is to teach what you learn from the books you read. Take notes by hand, because studies show that you remember more of what you read and learn, when you write your notes by hand, than when you type them.
In conclusion, the average book takes the average person at least eight hours to read. And if the book is very technical, it will take even longer. If you read only the relevant sections of a book, you can read the book in half the time, isn’t the time you can save, worth following the tips and secrets above? Don’t feel guilty about not reading the entire book, because authors repeat a lot of information simply for emphasis.