Whatever you want to know, you can read about it in a book. Whatever you want to do, you can learn how to do it through a book.
Information? We’re in no shortage of that. What we’re in a shortage of? We are in shortage of effective reading strategies. We are in shortage of people who execute and implement of concepts that are actually in the books.
This is because we were trained from an early age to accumulate information and not how to use it. This is a mental model from school that no longer serves you. As a result, the information you read evaporates from your head like water in the Sahara after a couple months (weeks even). This is no bueno.
If you’re going to take your life to a new plateau, you need to follow through on what you read in books and take action.
In this article, I’m going to show you a step by step way to acquire the information in a book through effective reading strategies and how to follow through on whatever you read – with decisive action.
Effective Reading Strategy Step 1: The Catalyst
All learning starts with an introduction to an idea. At first, we are outsiders to the idea. We then learn the rules and conventions that surround the idea, familiarizing us with the concept.
Every book is centered around one single idea, lesson, or motif. The chapters and parts of that book make up the rules that explain that idea.
With an idea comes the promise or the expectation. “What’s in it for me?” “Why should I read this book?” You read it because you want to learn a new skill, lose weight, enjoyment, whatever. Whatever it is, you want to gain something out of reading this piece of prose (or poetry).
You then click “Place Your Order” on Amazon or you go to the local bookstore to grab it.
Effective Reading Strategy Step 2: The Acquisition
The moment you’ve waited for is finally here! You’ve got the book! Time to dive in. Not so fast.
Scan through the table of contents before you begin. It’ll give you a nice overview of what the book’s all about and so you can prepare your mind for what’s about to come.
Read the back cover so you can grasp what the book’s all about. Then read the reviews of the book. This will let you know if the book lives up to the hype or not.
Effective Reading Strategy Step 3: The Reading
Reading a book and using effective reading strategies requires a good degree of discipline. You’ll get much more out a book if you have set objectives that you want to achieve from the reading. For this, I recommend you quickly write out some of your expectations from the book.
- What do I want to gain from reading this book?
- How can I apply this to my life?
- How will this change my perspective on how I view things going on in my life?
When you ask these questions, you’ll be able to zero in on what’s important for you in the reading.
There are three different ways you can read books:
- Breezy – quick reading, no highlighting, no notetaking
- Inspect – read + underline/highlight
- Thorough – read + underline/highlight complete with detailed notes and/or quotations
There’s just a lot of information that’s not going to soak into your mind the first time around. I would highly advise against the first option, especially when reading sooooper dense books like Think & Grow Rich. Don’t be afraid if you have to put a book down and set it aside to let the information sink in.
Always ask yourself questions. Some questions that are part of an effective reading strategy are:
- What is being said here? Read between the lines. Sometimes the point won’t be obvious.
- How does this connect to other information in the book? Think of each sentence or paragraph as a thread in a tapestry that the author’s trying to weave.
- What are some key themes or phrases that the author uses over and over again? Remember, every book and every chapter is centered around a key idea. What is it?
In my opinion, the best way to glean key insights from books is:
When you write down points on a piece of paper, you can then break those points down into sub points. You’ll be able to connect ideas and internalize them in a much deeper way.
Now for the final step, and the most important one – action.
Effective Reading Strategy Step 4: The Application
You need to take action. You need to take these effective reading strategies and apply them.
How can you make your life better than what it is right now by reading this book? What lessons can you learn from it? How will you make it a permanent part of your worldview?
The way humans learn is through repetition. Read these books so that they become a part of you. Put books on your bookshelf then come back to them when you have some kind of road block in your life that relates to that book. It’s like someone rewrote the whole book.
In addition to repetition, we learn by associating things with certain ideas. This is the cornerstone of deliberate practice and learning new skills. Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool call these “mental representations” in their book Peak. When you apply something from a book to your life, you’re hard wiring it deeper into your brain.Reading without application is like loading a gun and not firing it. Click To Tweet
Don’t be one of those egotistical people who read books for the sake of reading books. That’s not reading books effectively. The man who has 5 books and knows them inside out is much better off than the man who has 500 and can’t remember a single word.
Determine what it is that you’re going to take action on in your life. Start with one area. Once that’s done, move to the next. And the next. Soon, you’ll start to connect the dots between ideas. Certain ideas that seemed like they were unrelated start to come together. You start to grasp the world with greater understanding and insight but that’s only if you take action on what you read.
Just so you know, effective reading is a lifelong endeavor. You’ll always be seeking out new forms of knowledge in response to new problems or things that pop up in your life. Using these effective reading strategies will help you absorb knowledge at a much higher level leading to a greater and more fulfilling life.