Thursday, October 2, 2014

Speedy Books

Each point in life has its own needs and interests in order for you to grow to the next point. If you like the title of a self-help book for example, odds are that you're looking (more or less consciously) for ingredients to make your next stepping stone.

In that title-appealing book you might not be interested in all the stories or exercises, but some sentences might change your life, providing a crucial part of the stepping stone by resonating with you more than others. So, how can one take what's useful from that book without taking too long, namely, going through the whole book? (most interesting bits do not depend on the rest of the book).

So here's my recipe:

  1. you find an attractive title that promises to give you that crucial piece of your next step
  2. read 2 reviews to see what it's about
  3. read the table of contents to see the structure - look for chapter summaries or any other shortcuts given by the author
  4. look through the pages - don't read everything, just look and see what words pop up to you. Read the beginning of a paragraph and its ending to search for hints
  5. once you find a sentence or exercise that makes you sizzle, write it down (copy it if it's short, write it in your own words if it's long) (if it's your book you can highlight the sentence - much better than stopping the reading flow to write - ebooks make this really easy)
  6. self assess yourself to figure out where you are now (if you haven't done so already) and integrate your findings from that book in order to go to your next stepping stone and move on to new grounds

I'd like to see an app extract those juicy parts from a book and just lay them out to you. But something else happens when you skim through the book - you get exposed to its content and you might find something relevant where you least expect. Your brain takes bits from what you quickly read and then produces something unexpected - this would be avoided if one relied on an app.

But then again, it all comes down to time. You might want to spend 1h skimming the 200 page book, reading here and there, or you might want to spend 10 min reading the output of the app. I think it depends on the book and the needs of the reader - a handful of books actually deserve to be read whole, while others become relevant and useful if they are taken apart.