Nice post from Lifehack by Dustin Wax that really encompasses my approach when I read the books I review here. I try to engage and debate and discuss with the books, try and understand what the author is trying to get across. I want to see the strengths but also to evaluate the weaknesses and flaws. Especially since I've been reading a lot of business/technology strategy and trendwatching books -- books that need to be put into perspective and context.
I'll give the bare bones of the different suggestions that Wax makes for reading productively, filling in a couple of details too:
- Use an index card as your bookmark.
- Have expectations.
- Keep a reading journal.
- Talk about it.
- Teach it.
- Pay attention to structure.
- Google it.
- Take a moment. People want to read fast, to get it done. That’s why speedreading courses are so popular, despite the fact that you almost never come across anyone who can successfully speedread. The reality is, reading takes time, and learning takes even more. If you only have 20 minutes to read, read for 15 and spend 5 minutes thinking on what you’ve read. If you’re not pressed for time, take long breaks between chapters, even between sections, to reflect.
- Interrogate. It’s a cliche, but not everything is true just because it was in a book. While developing a Stephen Colbert-like distrust of books is probably overkill, it’s a rather good idea to ask from time to time, “How does the author know this?” and even “Does what s/he’s saying really mean this?”
- Make a list.
- Switch it up.
- Accept defeat.