Education never stops. Acquiring knowledge is an ongoing process. In your quest for financial literacy, there is an endless supply of books. It is important to choose the rights books. Quality is better than quantity. But quantity is important – whatever book you read, each will teach you one lesson that you did not know before. Each book has one Big Insight or Secret. If you miss that, you miss the book.
So how do you go about reading books more quickly? Here are 4 steps to follow:
1. Read the table of contents.
This should give you a quick idea about the range and depth of the subject matter. Figure out what you want from the book: what it can teach you.
By doing this beforehand, you can dramatically shorten the amount of time you need to spend with the text itself. Your subsequent reading will be targeted and efficient, because your subconscious mind has already begun to think along the right lines and your interest has been primed.
2. Read the introduction and/or first chapter.
One of these usually serves as a sort of executive summary of the entire book. This is where you can pick up the author’s main argument and discover – if the book is well-written – the big idea within the book.
3. Read the first paragraph of each successive chapter and the first sentence of each successive paragraph.
You will be amazed at how much information you can pick up this way.
Using this method, you are only reading 20-30% of the text, but you are getting 80-90% of the content
To get the most from this process, I usually assume that each chapter has one useful thing to teach me – and that’s what I look for.
4. Finally, read the entire last chapter and/or epilogue.
Like the introduction/first chapter, at least one of these will often serve as a summary. Reading them gives you a chance to internalize what you’ve already discovered and to make notes if you haven’t already.
To make a book more effective, you should keep some sort of reading journal in which you record the title, author, big Idea, and smaller ideas of each book. If you make your entry just after you’ve finished a book, it shouldn’t take more than five or 10 minutes.
Review what you’ve written once within 24 hours and then again sometime the following week. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll remember about the book.
When reading a book, especially those relating to personal finance, it is important to remember that they are raw material for your imagination, not finished artwork. So you should go through them as you might go through a big pile of kindling, looking for a few straight, dry pieces. Don’t waste your time fooling around with what’s not important. And don’t feel compelled to read every word.