cat book

How to Read a Book

One of the questions I get asked a lot is how I manage to read as much as I do. In this post I want to share with you some of tips I have for reading quickly and still be able to retain the information.

Speed reading 101

First things first, you have got to increase the number of pages you can read in a specified amount of time. One of the best ways to increase your speed is to stop reading the margins. By this, I mean, don’t allow your eyes to read an entire line in a book. Stop about half an inch or so from the margins. Your peripheral vision will pick up the rest.

Another speed reading tip is to look in the important places. If I need to get through a book really quickly I will skim the pages. When I skim a book I will typically read the entire first paragraph of a chapter and the entire last paragraph of a section. When I skim, I also only read the first and last sentence of each paragraph in between the first an last paragraphs. These places are where authors place their main points. Most of the other stuff is just filler.

What to skip

There are plenty of times where I will start reading a book and realize a couple of chapters in that it’s not the book for me. If you get to this point, simply put the book down and start reading the next one. You should never feel like you need to read a book from beginning to end. The point of reading it to learn something. Reading from end to end will not always accomplish that.

One last tip about what to skip. Most introductions are a waste of time. You can skip them 95% of the time and not miss a beat. Try it.

Teach me something

Recently, I started a business book club. Originally, I started the group as a networking opportunity. What I found was that I was retaining the core concepts from a book longer than usual.

After you finish reading a book it’s best to share what you have learned. This is a great way to improve comprehension of a subject. It forces you to remember the material because in order to tell someone what you have learned you must process it again.

Mark it up

Now, I don’t recommend this if you have borrowed a library copy, you will pay dearly (note to self, don’t hand in school assignments completed in a library book) but, if you own the book, you should make a mess of it. Highlight it, dog ear it, underline the important parts. The act of acting on a part of the book you just read will help you remember and retain the information. This tip is quite useful for visual learners, however, it takes a bit more time and care to highlight only the important parts.

Take a break

As much as I like to read, it’s important to take a break from time to time. Your eyes will get tired or you mind will wonder. Neither of these things is good for speed reading or comprehension. So, if you have an exam or book club event where you need to be finished at a certain time, I suggest you get started early as possible.

Now, speaking of taking a break, that’s it for today.

What reading tips do you have? Share with me on Twitter @trebrandjordan