How to read

Yeah, no really.  I’m not talking about reading for fun or anything really gripping.  I’m talking about reading those dry but meaty books that you’re really trying to learn from.

What works

Notecards

No seriously.  A small 3X5 notecard with a pencil will do.  Write down page numbers or quotes that appeal to you.  Go back to them later for reference.  You can even (depending on how small you write) capture thoughts or reactions from the reference material.  Be comfortable.  A small notebook can work too if you like to write a lot.  I prefer 1-2 notecards because they are easy to reference later and serve as bookmarks to boot.

What doesn’t work

Reading on the bed.

It didn’t work in school, why do it now?  If you’re anything like me, being on the bed just keeps reminding me of how much I’m not sleeping.

Reading at night.  

See above.  Even if it’s not on the bed, you’re still not as alert as you should be and won’t be able to absorb the key points.  Concentration is key and you should give yourself an honest shot at grasping themes, tones, etc of what you’re reading.

Reading with distractions.

I know it sounds obvious, but a lot of times, we set ourselves up for this one.  “I’m going to read [insert length] every [insert duration].”  And the only way we succeed is by cutting into family time, tv time, or meal time.  You’re probably not going to get far multi-tasking as the “distraction” will be more engaging than the material you’re reading.

If you’re looking for an example, here’s the output of a good book I recently read.

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