I read a lot of books. For the past 3 years, I’ve averaged finishing a book every 2-3 weeks (thanks to this post inspiring me). Through all this reading, I’ve learned a tremendous amount thanks to a specific philosophy I’ve had on what I choose to read. Since I just published the organized list of all the books I’ve read and recommend, I wanted to explain how I arrived at this list. These are my strategies when choosing how and what I read:
- Only read for purpose – I read books on subjects I want to learn about (i.e.: non-fiction only), so reading is about education not relaxation or escape for me.
- Stick to highly recommended books – I ask trusted friends, mentors and observe leaders in tech for books to read. I hate wasting time on a bad book, so I work hard to ensure anything I read isn’t a waste. This is why I include a section in my books list on books not to read.
- Read to solve current problems or satisfy current interests – This helps me quickly apply whatever I read to challenges I’m facing in my work and/or personal life.
- Write in the margins – If I don’t write down the ideas sparked in reading, I won’t remember nor apply them. It also makes it easier to revisit concepts I found interesting in any book I’ve read.
- Read in small bites – I read when I’m on public transportation, which generally means 15-30 minute bursts. This ensures I have plenty of time to think about each concept I read about and absorb as much as I can. Credit to Leo of Buffer for expanding on this subject here.
- Share – When I learn interesting concepts or a great book, I share it. The subsequent discussion with others leads to even more learning.
How do you decide what books to read? What motivates you to read?
Nice, I’ll have to explore your book list more over the holidays. To add, I think it’s important to re-emphasize reading what’s important for you NOW. My ‘to-read’ list is several dozen books long, plus many lengthy web articles. Prioritizing reading has been so crucial to my productivity. Although, futuristic topics always make for a nice hybrid: educational-escape.
Lastly, it’s probably more of a personal preference, but I like to read books from front to back in one or two sittings. Immersing yourself can help with understanding and applying the concepts, but I admit intermittent reading could be better for serendipitous connections back to your work.
Glad to hear it! My reading list is massively long too. I can’t think of a better way than what you feel you can best use to learn *right now* to pick off the list.
I think reading mode is all about personal fit; some people would rather set time aside 1-2 weekends a month to read, while others, myself included, prefer a steady routine of reading.
Wow, thanks so much for sharing your reading list. I also practice the short-burst-on-commutes style of reading. Never thought about that it actually helps to absorb more of the concepts but actually makes a lot of sense :)
I’m currently reading “The Score takes care of itself” and I love it. Heard a lot about “How to win Friends”. I guess that will be my next one over the holidays. Awesome list.
Love your list and your blog – we seem to have lots of interests in common! Anyway – back to topic: being a big non-fiction reader myself, I have to say that the occasional fiction book does more than “relaxation or escape”. It often helps me see a different perspective on how to solve a problem or think of a new business opportunity. Also think of a better way to use storytelling for business,
Do consider it. A suggestion to get you started: “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures” by Anne Fadiman – combines some history, some anthropology and a great storytelling skill.