How to read (non-fiction) books

As we grow older, I think a lot of us struggle to keep up with reading books. I can think of a few a reasons:

  • Adult life obligations keep piling up (working, maintaining relationships, just generally surviving)
  • Other forms of entertainement or leisure are more readiliy available and generally provide a quicker (if not better) return on investment - think Netflix, etc..
  • Social media seems to have shortened everyone's attention span, as shorter content is much more prevalent everywhere

I've been on a mission to try and read more, and along the way I've discovered a few tips that help make reading non-fiction more pleasurable and more effective. Some of them come from Naval Ravikant and a bunch of podcasts he was a guest on, while others are just based on my own personal experience. Here they are:

  • Start reading multiple books at the same time, and then whenever you want to read you can choose a book that interests you the most in the moment. In this way, you reduce the chance of just getting bored with one book, and then stop reading completely.
  • Feel free to quit at any time. If a book just gets boring or annoys you, you don't have to finish it. And if you have already started multiple ones, you will always have something else to choose from. Reading should be pleasure, and never pain.
  • Feel free to skip around the book. A lot of non-fiction books could have been essays or longer blog posts. Sometimes the best way to get value from a book is to read only the good parts. If you find yourself bored, just skip a chapter and see if there's a more interesting one ahead.
  • Try to take notes. I'm not really good at this yet, but a lot of value from non-fiction books comes from remembering the key concepts they teach you. If you have good notes, you won't have to reread the books. I'm currently trying to find a good way to manage a mix of notes that come from ebooks vs. regular books.
  • Have a good mix of fiction and non-fiction in your reading list. A lot of the tips I've outlined here aren't good for reading fiction, but by having a good mix you're more likely to maintain a reading habit.
  • If you're trying to learn new concepts, regular books are better than audio books. Stick to audio books for re-reading or for fiction.
  • Even a page a day helps establish a habit. As with a lot of things, getting from 0 -> 1 is often harder than getting from 1 -> 100.

That's about it so far - hope it helps you as much as it has me. Happy reading! 😊📚

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