What will I do differently?
I really enjoyed trying to reach my goal of reading 50 books this year. And I do think I can reach new heights in 2016 pretty easily. With my MBA now behind me, I’ll have gobs of time I didn’t realize existed before! But, I’ve had the nagging feeling, how can I be more strategic in my reading? I don’t read a ton of fiction, so I am learning through most of my reading. But too many times I realized I didn’t capture and retain the main goals and points from a book. Sure, I still learn, even if I cannot quote the book, but I have this nagging feeling I’m not capturing all I can.
So for 2016, I came up with three ways to more strategically read. Reading is fun, but reading is also learning, so I want to maximize my learning. Below are those strategies.
Reread 10 books
During 2015, I focused solely on reading books I had in the bookshelf. While I read a lot, I purchase way too many books. During 2014, I really learned A LOT from the top books I had, and I’ve wanted to pick them up and reread the books. Unfortunately, I’ve been distracted by all the new unread books on the shelf.
So, my goal for 2016 is to read 52 books, but I want 10 of those to be rereads. By rereading, you’re taking what you already know is a great book and trying to capture more information. It’s the same as practice. By going to the gym to shoot the basketball during college, I went from a horrible three point shooter to a pretty good shooter. All it took was repetition. Through the repetition, I learned what I was doing wrong.
Also, a new perspective can be gained. I know we’ve all watched a movie and hated it only to be forced to rewatch it later and realized that wasn’t so bad. Time and place can change perspective, and as a learning and growing individual, time and place changes. Time and place mean something that previously meant nothing now means so much more. It can also mean those passages that caught my eye before now mean something different.
There are so many things you can learn from rereading, and it’s a shame I haven’t taken better advantage of this in the past.
Keep more notes
I used to read a book, set it down, move onto the next. I would shutter at seeing underlines or handwritten notes. Now? I underline and write notes like a madman, even journal post reading, and write book summaries when finished. So, why is this on the list?
Well, I’ve realized while I do keep notes now, I don’t always spend time on them. It’s always a rush to get back to reading. And while I do it now, I don’t always do it immediately or consistently. I need to be more consistent and more immediate. By rushing through the process, I’m losing a significant piece of the value. By being more strategic in my note taking, I can learn more and compare notes from different periods.
I’ve always been envious of those who write great book reviews. I’ve never thought I was a particularly good book reviewer, and notes can help me achieve my goal writing more book reviews.
Plan my learning
Once I start a book, I read it. But, I don’t plan what I’ll read next. When it comes to fiction, we don’t need to plan, just read whatever hits your fancy. But with business, spiritual, and other serious topics, it makes sense to plan your reading. By planning, or batching, books you’re able to learn an immense amount on a topic quickly. Also, this allows direct comparison of expert opinions on a single topic.
Along with the note keeping, this allows me to see different opinions on topics. While reading from an expert is great, reading from multiple experts stretches your mind. At the spots the books disagree, it forces you to dive in and form an opinion. Now instead of passively agreeing you’re actively examining.
No reading system looks the same, so these are not hard and fast rules. But, I hope by sharing my strategies I’m encouraging others to be more strategic in their thinking.
If you’re intrigued, check out the category on the side. You can find my previous posts on reading and some book suggestions along with it.
What are some ways you retain reading content?