Suppose we generated enough time each day to read something meaningful. This is in no way a small achievement, and if you can read every day you are probably one step ahead of 90% of your peers. Now, what do we read to make the most of this time? The answer is probably quite complex… This post is inspired by this article.
Let us state our goals
It is easier to generate meaningful results if we have a goal. When we read, we should probably also state our goals. What do we want to achieve? Here are some common ideas for personal goals and it is probably best to have on main goal and two secondary goals which you can revise on a monthly basis.
- Learn the latest professional and business news. Probably you will choose to read a variety of blogs, such as extremetech, techcrunch, businessinsider, seekingalpha etc. The actual choice is based on your profession personality and taste. Typically the focus in such reading is on speed, filtering out the irrelevant and focusing on useful.
- Get some fundamental knowledge in a new field. This implies reading some books that are considered to be fundamental by the specialists in the field and reading the books very carefully. It is easy to get a reference to such books using a search string “best books to learn ____”. The focus in such reading is on comprehension and analysis of different perspectives on the subject.
- Reading that facilitates networking. Some subjects, books and articles are trendy. People around you will discuss them, and you want to have a say in the subject. When reading such content focus on your experience and building a unique perspective on the subject that can benefit others.
- Mood-altering reading. Motivational literature, biographies, some fiction will change our mood and will make us perceive things and make decisions differently. To some extent we are what we read. If you read religious literature, you will likely make more moral decisions. If you read heroic epos, you may act more courageously.
- Cultural reading. Some books will enrich our dictionary, add a new layer of cultural references to the things we do and feel, build new associations to mundane events. For example, poetry and classical literature may have this effect on people. When reading such content, do not focus on what it says, but on how it is said….
Fit the time of the day to the complexity of the material
Some of the books we read are boring, some annoying, some complex. We cannot read all of the books we want whenever we want and expect good results. We should adapt our reading to the time of the day, our mental state etc. This is why I typically recommend having more than one reading goal so that it is easier to adapt. Generally, we would want to take a short break before reading to get us into the mood, and a short break after reading so we can analyze all we just read. If we read more than 30 min it makes sense to make breaks while reading, every 20 min or so. Quite often it makes sense to have the same reading time every day, then when the time comes we will be poised to read. However, it is nice to make variations occasionally to read different materials and read them differently.
Build a journey
The books and articles you read generate a story. Typically we cannot plan the story when we start reading, but with time we can build it like a puzzle. Each time we read something different we can see how it relates to everything else we know and what place in a puzzle it can take. As the puzzle becomes more complex, we will get a feel of missing pieces and a tremendous feeling of accomplishment once all pieces connect and interlock correctly. The few small pieces that do not quite fall in the puzzle are typically cues for something new we should read and learn.
Do not read alone
While reading is a lonely thing, you do not have to be alone. You can have a blog, be active on social networks, and even approach the authors. Today authors are much more approachable than they were 100 years ago, and the author will probably be happy to communicate with you if addressed politely with an interesting question or proposition.
People are more than willing to suggest books to each other and then discuss different perspectives on these books.
If you think you want to read a book, write that idea down. If you read a book and learned something from it, write that down. Keep a diary, a wishlist and a record of your accomplishments. If you read something and forget what you read, maybe you should read it again really fast.
Books are trendy. Various blogs publish lists of most trendy books on their subject. Interesting people publish the books that had the deepest influence on them. Follow the trendsetters, be open and discover things you would never think could interest you.
When finding a book to read, be organized, since what we read influences who we are.