Reading is just one of the many skills that we are able to learn and improve.
You get better with practice.
Reading books is a great way to get knowledge and improve your worldviews without paying fortunes.
“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries,” René Descartes once said.
Good reading can help you develop other areas of your life.
For example, a reading habit can improve your memory and cognition skills.
The important question is: “How do I read more books and still retain more of what I read?
One of the best ways to make reading productive is by making it a fun process or easy habit to embrace. If it’s a chore, you won’t sustain it.
The second thing to get right is your motivation for picking up any book.
If you can nail these two requirements, you are off to a great start.
If you want to read effectively and retain more as quickly as possible, make your reading habit personal: forget the rules and practice what helps you read and comprehend more.
Start with what you want out of it and why — why are you interested in those specific books? What do you want to get out of them?
For every book you choose to read, first understand why.
I bought The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel because I wanted to understand how our emotions affect how we invest and what to do about it.
I’m actively investing in index funds; good investing knowledge will help me manage the many ups and downs of the uncertain market. Panic buying and selling didn’t help me in the past.
Maybe you want to change a specific behaviour, upgrade your skill for a new job or project, improve your emotional intelligence or become wiser to lead a better life.
Whatever your goal, make it obvious.
Use that as a guide to finding exactly what you want in the book.
For me, reading hundreds of books have never been the goal.
I like to read deeply, so I choose my books carefully and tend to read slowly to get as much out of them as possible.
I take my time to learn a lot from great minds.
“All I have learned, I learned from books,” Abraham Lincoln said.
Active reading: slowing down, making personal notes, underlying best ideas and circling the author’s best arguments help me retain more faster.
If your goal is to become wiser, upgrade your skill or change your mind about an old mental model, learn to read deeply and slowly.
If you can maintain that practice and read consistently for at least a week, you will get more out of any book in a week than most people get in a month.
Active reading is a skill – with practice, it will become a habit you can use to read all the books you choose to buy.
Don’t aim to read 100 books in a year. It makes you rush the reading process.
What’s the point if you don’t remember or retain anything you read but crush a terrible goal. The point is to use what you learn or read later in life ( if you focus on non-fiction).
Aggressive skimming won’t help you achieve that.
Don’t force yourself to finish a book faster. Deep reading is the only way to engage with the content of any great book.
Remember, you don’t have to finish every book you start.
Don’t suffer through a book that doesn’t provide the insight you want or solve your specific problem. Make reading enjoyable.
You can skip chapters or ignore certain pages whilst you look for actionable knowledge or unique ideas.
Get the value, apply what you learn and move on. Reread if you must.
“Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life,” Mortimer J. Adler said.
Finally, use your gap times to read more: read when you are on your break, waiting for your coffee and commuting to work.
You can also set a specific time, like an hour before bed to read.
You can try a no TV day and use that time to read. It’s surprisingly calming. I tried and read more in a single night than most people do in a week. Listen to audiobooks when you don’t have time to read.
You can easily make reading productive if you mind your habits and do more of what’s working or helping you retain more of what you read.