How to Read a Business Book

How to Read a Business Book

I love to read. And over the years, I’ve found some shortcuts to get the most out of a book without slogging through the slow parts. Every book has them, at least every business book I can recall reading.

If you are in the same boat – you love to learn, to stimulate your brain through reading, to find new ways of looking at things around every page-turning corner, then this is for you.

Try this the next time you pick up a book at the library, or scan through at the book store trying to decide whether to buy or not to buy.

Don’t force yourself to read the whole book unless, of course, you just can’t put it down. My son got through a double major and a Masters degree in university by strategically scanning a ton of material, which, if read word for word, might have meant no time left for fitness or family life.

Check out the author’s bio and his or her reason for writing the book. Some non-fiction writers even suggest How to Read This Book.

Fan the book pages to see how it is laid out. Some books require a concentrated effort to read. Others are easy to scan because they have illustrations, excerpted passages, and lots of subheads.

While you’re at it, take a quick look at the illustrations. If a picture really is worth a thousand words, think of the possibilities!

Study the Table of Contents. A good book tells you what it is going to tell you. And a good table of contents allows you to use the book as an easy-to-access resource.

Read the first paragraph or two of a few chapters. You can determine the writer’s style. Is it heavy with research quotes, full of real-life stories, a bit humorous?

If there are summaries for each chapter, read or scan them all for a quick understanding of the contents. If any of the chapters are of particular interest to you, the summaries (and the table of contents) help you to prioritize your reading material.

Cement the knowledge you gain from reading any book, whether scanned or read all the way through, by writing down the main points of the book. A journal (digital or paper) is the best way to capture important ideas and the act of writing itself improves your recall many fold. And finally…

Share your new knowledge. Cultivate at least one friendship with someone who shares your love of ideas and with whom you can discuss what either of you have learned.


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